Webber edges out Vettel to take pole in Korea

Mark Webber claimed a surprising pole position at the Korean Grand Prix, edging out his team-mate Sebastian Vettel to take Red Bull Racing’s 44th in the sport.

The Australian upstaged pace-setter Vettel with a brilliant Q3 lap. It seemed the reigning world champion was heading for his 35th career of poles after setting the fastest time in Q1 and Q2.

In fact, the 25-year-old German’s first Q3 lap was three tenths of a second clear of the opposition.

But then Webber, who had been third in the provisional order, found a half-second improvement on his last pole attempt to set a time of one minute, 37.242 seconds.

The result was also the 200th Formula One pole for Red Bull’s engine supplier Renault.

Vettel’s response was simply not fast enough, with a poor first sector preventing the German from improving on his earlier mark. That ensured pole for Webber by 0.074 seconds, despite his software glitch.

Fernando Alonso was initially in second position following his first Q1 run, but Webber’s pole lap and an improvement from Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren pushed the championship leader back down to fourth.

Lotus showed better form with Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean taking fifth and seventh in their upgraded cars, featuring the Coanda exhaust. The black and gold cars will sandwich in between the Ferrari of Felipe Massa.

Nico Hulkenberg took his Force India to eighth, beating the Silver Arrows of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher.

There could have been several surprises in the early part of qualifying, but in the end the only major upset was that Jenson Button did not make Q3.

The McLaren driver’s first Q2 lap was compromised by an error, and then he missed the cut by 0.013 seconds when Jenson had to back off on his second run as yellows flew for Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso parking with a gearbox issue.

Had the end of Q1 worked out differently, neither McLaren would have reached the top ten shootout. As Hamilton was one of few drivers not to use the super softs in Q1, and as others found big gains on the quicker Pirelli, his early time meant he was only 17th fastest.

The McLaren was sat in the pits and was unable to respond due to the time limit, but Hamilton escaped a shock elimination as Bruno Senna’s final lap was not good enough, leaving the Williams down with the Caterhams, Marussias and HRTs. Senna’s team-mate Pastor Maldonado fared only marginally better, qualifying in P15.

Alonso did use super softs and had to do two runs in Q1, yet that was only 16th quickest… There were no such problems for either Hamilton or Alonso in Q2, though.

Sauber had to settle for P12 and P13, while Paul di Resta blamed traffic as his Force India ended up only P14.

While at the back, Narain Karthikeyan did not set a time due to brake problems with his HRT. As for Charles Pic, the Marussia driver qualified in P21 but will take engine penalty meaning he will start last on the grid.

Qualifying positions for the Korean Grand Prix:

1.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m37.242s
2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m37.316s
3.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes     1m37.469s
4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m37.534s
5.  Kimi Raikkonen        Lotus-Renault        1m37.625s
6.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m37.884s
7.  Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m37.934s
8.  Nico Hulkenberg       Force India-Mercedes 1m38.266s
9.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m38.361s
10.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes             1m38.513s
11.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m38.441s
12.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari       1m38.460s
13.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari       1m38.594s
14.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m38.643s
15.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m38.725s
16.  Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m39.084s
17.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m39.340s
18.  Bruno Senna           Williams-Renault     1m39.443s
19.  Vitaly Petrov         Caterham-Renault     1m40.207s
20.  Heikki Kovalainen     Caterham-Renault     1m40.333s
21.  Timo Glock            Marussia-Cosworth    1m41.371s
22.  Pedro de la Rosa      HRT-Cosworth         1m42.881s
23.  Narain Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth         no time*
24.  Charles Pic           Marussia-Cosworth    1m41.317s**

107 per cent time: 1m45.082s

*Did not set a time, requires dispensation from stewards to start
**Ten-place penalty due to engine change

18 thoughts to “Webber edges out Vettel to take pole in Korea”

  1. After taking his ‘second’ pole position of the season – his first was inherited from Michael Schumacher’s grid penalty at Monaco – Mark Webber was in great mood in describing his ‘near perfect’ pole. Autosport.com has the details.

    Mark Webber admitted that his lap was near perfect after taking his first outright pole position of the 2012 Formula 1 season in Korea.

    It was the Australian Red Bull driver’s 11th career pole position, and it will be the second time this year that he will have started from the first slot, after inheriting the position from Michael Schumacher in Monaco in May.

    “The lap was very good apart from Turn 15,” Webber said. “I got in OK but the exit was not great.

    “Apart from that it worked well because I got [Turns] 11 and 12 absolutely as good as I could, so you take the rough with the smooth. But it was a tight session for all of us – scrubbed tyres, new tyres, Fernando [Alonso] did a reasonable lap on the scrubbed.

    “That is the way it is with the Pirellis, things can move around quite a bit.”

    Webber lost most of the final free practice session to a software glitch that prevented the team from firing up his engine. It meant that it was not possible for him to do a qualifying simulation.

    Nevertheless Webber said that Red Bull was quietly confident that another front-row lockout would be possible.

    “We didn’t get to run anywhere near what we like to in P3 and our information on the option [tyre] was limited,” he said. “There was bit of catch up going on. I had not the best sector two or three in terms of balance issues and other things. That is what we focused on in Q3, so we got the job done.

    “I think off the back of Suzuka we improved the car a bit,” he added. “You never get ahead of yourself, but we were optimistic after that, though we knew it wouldn’t be a given.

    “We have a handy car and the guys are working very, very hard, no question. That hard work is paying off but we’ll keep focused on ourselves and keep pushing the laptimes down.”

  2. Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel will not pin the blame on losing pole position by Felipe Massa. Autosport.com has the story.

    Sebastian Vettel insisted he would not try to blame Felipe Massa for his surprise failure to take Korean Grand Prix pole position.

    Vettel had looked a safe bet for pole as he dominated second and third practice, Q1, Q2 and the opening half of Q3 at Yeongam.

    But his Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber then snatched pole away, as Vettel could not improve on his provisional pole time at the end of Q3.

    A radio message from Vettel to his team seemed to hint that he was disgruntled about coming across Massa’s Ferrari, which he encountered just before he started his flying lap.

    While Vettel acknowledged he had been caught out by Massa, he underlined that the Brazilian was not at fault.

    “I don’t want to blame it on Felipe because I thought he was coming in,” said Vettel. “He stayed out so I had to back off, and the second lap was not good enough.”

    He added: “I don’t like all these discussions. We had a lot of them lately, these things happen.

    “It is not Felipe’s fault. I should have known earlier. If anything it was my mistake. I am not a fan of blaming anyone or anything for the result.

    “I am happy with the result in the end.”

    Vettel took consolation from the fact that he only started second in Korea last year, but was able to pass poleman Lewis Hamilton on lap one and go on to win.

    “Last year I had a good launch and here you never know what happens,” said Vettel. “You might start third, fourth, fifth and end up top.”

  3. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton has admitted he was very lucky to escape the elimination of Q1 after posting only the 17th quickest time in the early parts of qualifying. Hamilton was able to record a much fastest time which resulted in third position on the grid. Autosport.com has the story.

    Lewis Hamilton admitted he was very lucky to avoid the humiliation of a Q1 exit in Korean Grand Prix qualifying.

    The Briton ultimately qualified third, beaten only by the dominant Red Bulls.

    But Hamilton ended Q1 on the cusp in 17th place, and was fortunate that Bruno Senna did not improve on his final lap and eliminate the McLaren, which was back in the pits and tumbling down the order as others found time.

    “It was quite a shocking session,” Hamilton conceded. “I didn’t get a lap in and did quite a poor job when the tyres weren’t there temperature-wise.

    “I had a bit traffic and locked up. Very poor and I’m lucky I got through.”

    Hamilton remained unsure about his race pace, having struggled in practice two on Friday when most teams were doing race preparation.

    He was encouraged by the fact that team-mate Jenson Button – who qualified only 11th – had a stronger Friday.

    “I didn’t do a long run yesterday, – didn’t have great session in P2,” said Hamilton.

    “Jenson did a great job and had a competitive long run, so I hope I am able to do the same tomorrow.”

  4. Championship leader Fernando Alonso insists that he can fight Red Bull for the Korean Grand Prix victory. Autosport.com has the story.

    Ferrari can be a factor for victory in the Korean Grand Prix if it puts together the perfect race, according to world championship leader Fernando Alonso.

    The two-time champion, who will start from fourth on the grid – his best qualifying result since taking pole position in the German Grand Prix in July – reckons that strong race pace and teamwork can help him match Red Bull’s car advantage in the 55 lap race.

    Red Bull has been the team to beat so far in Korea, just as it was in Suzuka, but Alonso is counting on Ferrari’s traditionally strong long-run pace to fight with championship rival Sebastian Vettel, who starts second on the grid.

    “I am reasonably confident to do a good race, if I don’t crash, normally they are good for us,” he said. “Yesterday [in practice] we were good with the race pace.

    “In the race there are many factors. In qualifying it’s only about the quickest car to get pole position, in the race it’s not only about the fastest car.

    “You need to have a good strategy, good tyres, good pitstops, good start… there are many things that can be involved and with those, in general, I think we are the strongest team. And thanks to these strengths we are leading the championship.

    “So we need to use our good points, hide a little bit our weakness – which maybe is qualifying – and today I think we did a good qualifying and we need to use our strong point now tomorrow.”

    Red Bull has taken a step forward over the past two races, and in Suzuka became the first team this year to record a front-row lockout, which Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel repeated in reverse order on Saturday in Korea.

    Alonso admitted he had been surprised by the jump in performance that Red Bull had produced.

    “It was a surprise in Suzuka maybe to see the big advantage they had,” he said. “Not only compared to us, in Suzuka they were out of reach for everybody, and I was a bit surprised.

    “So maybe Suzuka was the perfect layout for them or perfect characteristics. Here is maybe a little bit more normal, without forgetting that they were first in Q1, Q2 and second in Q3. So they are not bad.”

  5. Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen believes the team are in much better shape thanks to the car’s upgrade including the new Coanda exhaust. Autosport.com has the news story.

    Kimi Raikkonen reckons Lotus goes into the Korean Grand Prix in better shape than it has been for several races – but played down the new exhaust’s contribution to that progress.

    The Finn will start fifth at Yeongam, having taken his best qualifying result since Spa in late August.

    “It’s good for us to be higher up,” said Raikkonen.

    “We could have been in a similar position in the last one but I spun.

    “It helps us, it will make us a bit better in the race. It’s a safer and better position for the start.

    “But the good thing I think is that the laptime is closer to the front, so that should give us better chances in the race because before we’ve been further away in laptime so we knew that it was going to be very difficult.

    “Now I think we have a better chance to score better positions.”

    Lotus introduced a major new upgrade for Korea, including a Coanda-effect exhaust. Raikkonen was unsure about its effectiveness in practice, and reckoned the main reason Lotus had improved since Friday was set-up progress.

    “Today was just better overall,” he said. “I think the exhaust hasn’t changed since yesterday.”

    The end of Q2 was affected by yellow flags for Daniel Ricciardo’s Toro Rosso stopping on track.

    Raikkonen was among the drivers who improved at that point, but he was adamant he had still obeyed the warning signals.

    “I lifted in there. It’s normal,” he said. “Then I went faster than that with used tyres on the next qualifying lap I did.”

  6. Jean-Eric Vergne was furious with himself after missing out on a chance to shine in Q2 for the Korean Grand Prix.

    The Toro Rosso driver instead ended the session 17th fastest.

    Vergne set the fastest first sector time of all in the final moments of the middle segment of qualifying, before ruining his lap with a mistake at the final corner.

    “The performance looked very good and competitive this afternoon, but unfortunately I tried to take the final corner flat on my very last run, but I got it wrong and ruined my lap, nearly losing the car, so I am angry with myself for that,” he said.

    “The step up in performance compared to yesterday came partly from improving the car overnight and again since FP3 and partly from myself, in the way I was driving.”

    Vergne also had to give away time in middle sector during that lap, as ironically it coincided with team-mate Daniel Ricciardo being forced to stop at the side of the track.

    “I simply lost drive coming out of Turn 12, feeling as if the car was in neutral and I couldn’t find any gears,” said the Australian, who qualified 16th. “I could not bring the car back to the pits and had to abort the run at the side of the track.

    “A shame, because Q1 went very well and I was able to post a competitive time.

    “I don’t know if I could have eventually got into Q3, but whatever the result, this has been a missed opportunity.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  7. Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg admitted that ninth was the best the team could achieve in qualifying at the Korean Grand Prix. Autosport.com has the story.

    Nico Rosberg says his ninth-place grid slot represents the maximum Mercedes could have achieved in
    qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix.

    Both Rosberg and team-mate Michael Schumacher made it into Q3 – a marked improvement on last weekend’s form at Suzuka – but neither driver was able to get within one second of poleman Mark Webber.

    Rosberg said the car lacked the one-lap pace to challenge further up the grid, but was hopeful the situation would be different over a race distance.

    “Ninth place was the maximum that we could have achieved today,” he insisted.

    “We set up the car well but we’re lacking the performance to challenge any further towards the front.

    “We’re working hard to improve the situation, and hopefully our race pace will be better and we can score some decent points here in Korea.

    “The track layout here and the cooler temperatures should suit to us more than in the recent races, so I’m looking forward to the race tomorrow.”

    Schumacher meanwhile said the team had made progress from Japan but still labelled its qualifying performance ‘average’.

    “The positive aspect about today’s performance was that we made a step forward relative to last weekend and got into Q3,” he explained.

    “But overall, it was an average kind of day. We were expecting to end up somewhere between positions eight and 10, but things didn’t go quite right in the final sector of my quick lap.

    “Looking ahead to tomorrow, I think we can hope to look quite respectable: our long runs were quite good, as were the tyres. Let’s see how the race unfolds.”

  8. After missing out on the top ten shootout, McLaren’s Jenson Button is fearing the pace of the car will be wasted following his disappointing qualifying result. Autosport.com has the details.

    Jenson Button fears his McLaren’s very strong race pace will be squandered by his poor qualifying result in Korea.

    The Briton ended up only 11th on the Yeongam grid after a trouble Q2 featuring a mistake and a yellow-flag delay.

    Button had been optimistic about McLaren’s long-run performance on Friday, but suspects that speed will now be wasted in traffic.

    “My long runs were very good yesterday. But it’s disappointing to be so far back,” he said.

    “The race pace was really good yesterday. I think we were the quickest.

    “That’s why it’s even tougher to be starting where we are.”

    Button accepted the major shame of blame for his qualifying result, putting it down to an early mistake in Q2. Yellow flags for Daniel Ricciardo’s ailing Toro Rosso then interrupted his last run.

    “I locked up, ran wide, and had to go down to first gear,” he said.

    “So I got to that sector [on the next run] thinking there was a couple of tenths there and should have easily been through.

    “But it wasn’t to be due to the yellow flags.”

  9. Sauber is adamant that its midfield qualifying positions for the Korean Grand Prix are solely due to yellow flags interrupting Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi’s Q2 laps, rather than any lack of pace in the car.

    Perez and Kobayashi will start 12th and 13th respectively at Yeongam. They were among several drivers affected when Daniel Ricciardo’s gearbox-hampered Toro Rosso prompted yellows at the end of Q2.

    “I would have been easily five tenths faster but I had to back off when the yellow flags came out,” said Kobayashi. “I am quite disappointed, especially as we had improved the car for Q2.”

    Sauber’s head of track engineering Giampaolo Dall’Ara said that while the results might not reflect it, the team had made huge progress since practice and would have the pace to go forward on Sunday.

    “There’s no doubt we were unfortunate today with the yellow flags, but we have to take the positive from the day,” he said.

    “After having some troubles yesterday, we managed to improve the set-up significantly overnight and both our drivers were very strong.

    “I believe the performance of the car is stronger than the results suggest, so we have every reason to be positive for the race.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  10. It was a frustrating qualifying session session for Narain Karthikeyan. The HRT driver blamed a brake failure for not being able to record a lap time. Autosport.com has the details.

    Narain Karthikeyan’s high-speed spin during qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix was caused by his front-right brake disc splitting in half.

    The HRT driver was unable to complete a lap in qualifying after spinning at the fastest part of the circuit.

    It is not yet known what the cause of the failure was, although it is possible that wear was a factor.

    “When you first come out of the pits you don’t break at first,” Karthikeyan told AUTOSPORT.

    “I got to the third corner, touched the brakes and it [the brake disc] broke into two.

    “I don’t know the cause and it was a huge spin.”

    Despite not posting a time, the Indian will be allowed to start the race having posted competitive laps during free practice.

    Karthikeyan was frustrated at not having the chance to mount a qualifying attempt as he had outpaced team-mate Pedro de la Rosa during free practice.

    “Here, it was possible to [outqualify Pedro] because we have a better balance with the car,” said Karthikeyan.

    “My prime tyre run this morning was faster than his qualifying.”

  11. Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo was forced to retire during Q2 following a driveshaft issue. The Australian is expecting a gearbox penalty meaning he could drop down the starting grid order. Autosport.com has the story.

    Daniel Ricciardo expects to receive a gearbox-change penalty for the Korean Grand Prix after his qualifying problems.

    The Australian’s Toro Rosso ground to a halt at the end of Q2 with what the team now believes was a driveshaft issue.

    He was 16th fastest but reckons he will now start 21st.

    “It looks like it was driveshaft-related. Unfortunately it look like they’re probably going to have to get into the gearbox and make sure everything’s OK so it looks like I’ll probably start five places further back,” Ricciardo told AUTOSPORT.

    Jean-Eric Vergne and Ricciardo were sixth and seventh in Q1. The latter said the car had top-10 potential but that his lap was not going to be quite that good even before the failure. Vergne rued a mistake after ending up 17th.

    “After Q1 it looked promising. We could’ve had a crack at Q3,” Ricciardo said.

    “But looking at the lap up until then, I don’t think we would’ve been in Q3. I don’t think we would’ve got the time we wanted out of that second set [of tyres].

    “We maybe could’ve had a crack at Pastor [Maldonado] and Paul [di Resta]. If we couldn’t have got them, it would’ve been very, very close.”

    Despite potentially starting on row 11, Ricciardo remains upbeat about Toro Rosso’s progress.

    “The overall qualifying result isn’t really what we wanted, but in Q1 we definitely showed good signs today,” he said.

    “It was looking more promising so that’s positive and it backs up the last few weekends.

    “Tomorrow should be interesting.”

  12. Mercedes has been hit with a €10,000 fine for an unsafe release of Michael Schumacher’s car during qualifying.

    The German was sent out of the garage moments after Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren was, leading to the 2008 world champion having to drive around him in the pits.

    The race stewards, including former Lotus and Arrows racer Martin Donnelly, deemed that Mercedes was in breach of Article 23.12 of the sporting regulations, which deems it to be “the responsibility of the competitor to release his car after a pitstop only when it is safe to do so”.

    Hamilton did not have a problem with the incident and was just happy to have got ahead of Schumacher before the pit exit.

    “I didn’t have any problems,” he said.

    “I was let out of my garage before he was and then they tried to get him ahead of me but he was coming out slowly so I overtook him because I was already on the speed limiter, which is 100 km/h, and he was doing maybe 20 or 30 km/h.

    “But it gained position, which is very important.”

    It is the second time this weekend that Mercedes has been in trouble with the stewards after Schumacher was given a reprimand for impeding the HRTs of Pedro de la Rosa and Narain Karthikeyan during Friday practice.

    Mercedes has been punished for an unsafe release once previously this season after it sent Schumacher’s car onto the track with a wheel not properly attached during the Chinese Grand Prix.

    Source: Autosport.com

  13. Williams driver Bruno Senna has admitted that missing out on significant practice time was the main issue that he was unable to progress into Q2. Autosport.com has the details.

    Bruno Senna has blamed his failure to make Q2 for the third time this season on a lack of meaningful practice time.

    The Brazilian sat out first practice in Korea in favour of reserve driver Valtteri Bottas and his Saturday morning practice running was compromised by a front wing problem despite completing 18 laps.

    “It’s a typical result of losing the first session on Friday, then having an OK second session but a bad third session with technical problems,” he said when asked by AUTOSPORT what went wrong.

    “When you lose a session and then lose another session because of problems, that’s it.

    “On a tight grid like this, you don’t have a half-second margin to play around with.

    “I’m not surprised that we had a struggle after the morning session when we were chasing front wing problems and not really working on set-up.”

    Senna described his Q2 lap as “OK” but set-up shortcomings caused by his practice problems restricted the potential of the car.

    Although team-mate Pastor Maldonado was four tenths of a second faster than him, Senna believes that the set-up problems were to blame for the gap.

    “It wasn’t a bad lap – it was an OK lap, nothing special with no mistakes but the car set-up was out of the window,” said Senna.

    “We made some decision on car set-up in the afternoon and went the wrong way, which is understandable.

    “The result is where we are in qualifying.

    “We are not particularly quick anyway, but it looks worse than it is.”

    Senna did attempt a second flying lap on his second run in Q2.

    He would have bumped McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton had he been able to match Maldonado’s time.

    “I improved a little bit in the first sector, but by the halfway point of the lap the tyres had given up already.

    “It’s a one-lap tyre and [the track is] very hard on the tyres with he long corners.

    “I needed to try another lap because I knew that it wasn’t good enough but it didn’t happen.”

  14. Sergio Perez has ruled out one of his giantkilling fightbacks in the Korean Grand Prix after his struggles so far this weekend.

    The Mexican failed to make it through to Q3 at Yeongam after losing time when he backed off for a yellow flag in the final sector.

    Although there have been several times this season when Perez has battled back through the field from a lowly grid place, he doubts whether he can pull that off this time.

    “Will it be a mega day tomorrow? No,” explained Perez. “I think we can be in the points but I am not very optimistic to be honest. We can do some points and that is my target tomorrow. But not to score good points.”

    When asked by AUTOSPORT why he was not so confident about his chances, Perez replied: “First of all the wear is quite a lot on the tyres. Degradation is quite big and I think it will be very easy for most people to do the strategy that we are planning to do, unless we have a very big surprise tomorrow.

    “From us, for the long runs, there is quite a lot of wear on the fronts. It is not so much the degradation but the wear on the front. It is quite a lot.

    “You put a lot of load on the front tyres, so it will be interesting tomorrow to see how it improves.”

    Perez was confident that he would have been able to get through to Q3 if he had not lost time in backing off for the yellow flags that were out for Daniel Ricciardo’s stranded Toro Rosso.

    “It was going to be quite a lot better,” Perez said. “Today Q3 was quite possible, and without all the yellow flags I could easily have been in Q3.

    “It is a shame we could not make it today but on the other hand we are free to choose our tyre for tomorrow.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  15. Ferrari’s Felipe Massa is quite eager to show the true race pace in Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix. Autosport.com has the story.

    Felipe Massa believes that starting closer to the front of the grid for Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix will help him access Ferrari’s strong long-run pace right from the beginning of the 55-lap race.

    The Brazilian, who is seeking to build momentum following his second-place finish in Japan last weekend, feels that finding speed in his Ferrari effectively during qualifying has been his weakest area in 2012. Massa has failed to make it into Q3 10 times this season.

    But Massa starts Sunday’s race from sixth position, having been just 0.3 seconds slower than team-mate Fernando Alonso.

    Massa even hopes to able to fight with the Red Bulls for position in the grand prix.

    “Red Bull has a quick car, quicker than our car in qualifying,” he said. “McLaren was also a bit quicker than us in the qualifying.

    “But I hope we can see similar to what we saw in the last race, that our car is operating much better in the race and then maybe the possibilities get bigger to fight these guys – hopefully be even in a straight fight.”

    Massa added that he felt having qualified more effectively was a further sign that he is making good progress as his form continues to improve.

    “I didn’t do a perfect lap, maybe with a perfect lap it would have been one or two positions further up,” he said, “but I don’t think it would have been much better than that.

    “I think it’s important to have put the car in the right direction for the qualifying, which is something that didn’t happen in all the races for me. Starting in a better position definitely helps to use your pace from the beginning to the end.

    “I hope tomorrow we can have a good start. The start here is always tricky at Turn 1, then you have a very long straight and then Turn 3 as well, many things can happen at. So it is important to be clever.”

    Asked whether he was concerned about starting immediately ahead of Romain Grosjean, who has been under fire for causing first-lap contact with other drivers on several occasions, Massa replied: “He needs to worry, not me, because he was in a bit of trouble at the starts.

    “I think he has suffered already a lot with that. So I think he needs to be careful and he needs to understand how to do the starts.

    “I will try to do the best – I always try, whatever driver I am alongside I don’t think that’s important.

    “I hope he understood all these problems he had at the starts. He is a clever guy and he is a good driver as well. It’s not a difficult thing to learn and to understand.”

  16. Nico Rosberg sees opportunities for Mercedes to deliver a decent haul of points in the Korean Grand Prix after both cars qualified in the top 10.

    As part of Mercedes’ renewed push forward following the introduction of its downwashed-exhausts in Singapore, Rosberg will start ninth on the grid at Yeongam with Michael Schumacher one place further back.

    And although Rosberg concedes that his team is not able to challenge the main title contenders, he reckons it can still finish higher in Sunday’s race.

    “Lately we have been similar qualifying [pace] to the race, so it is not so easy for us to move forward – but of course we will try and take the opportunity,” Rosberg said.

    “With a good start and a good strategy, moving up a couple of places is possible. And, if we can target top seven, that will be a very good position for where we are at the moment.”

    Rosberg believes the chances of making progress in the race could be boosted by the good speed his car has shown in the first sector of the lap – which is made up of two long straights.

    “We were fastest in sector one,” he said. “Maybe it will help a little bit with overtaking. It can only be a benefit.

    “Overtaking should be possible tomorrow because the tyres are on the edge. There will a lot of graining on the front and degradation on the rear, so things could get very interesting.”

    Source: Autosport.com

  17. Lotus driver Romain Grosjean is expecting his rivals to start feeling the pressure, especially on the opening lap of the race. Autosport.com has the details.

    Romain Grosjean fully expects rivals to try to take advantage of the pressure he is under at the start of the Korean Grand Prix amid his controversial run of first-lap crashes.

    But the Lotus driver insists he can prove that he has conquered the issue in Sunday’s race.

    Just a month after being banned from the Italian GP as a punishment for triggering the Belgian GP first-corner pile-up, Grosjean ran into Mark Webber on lap one in Japan, provoking the Red Bull driver’s wrath.

    Grosjean is determined to avoid further incidents in Korea, and acknowledged that other drivers might try to take advantage of his likely caution.

    “I think drivers will play with the fact that they know I will be in a difficult situation. It’s not a secret,” he said.

    “But never mind, I’ll do what I need to do. I’ve done hundreds of starts in my life so I know deeply in me how to take it.

    “I just need to get the right objective and the right questions at the right time.”

    He added: “We have to get the proper objective for the race tomorrow and not get confused, and take extra safety if I need to.”

    Grosjean said he had reflected extensively on his Suzuka mistake since last Sunday’s race.

    “I think this week was quite helpful in terms of working on myself, and I hope tomorrow I’m going to show it,” he declared.

    With some rivals and commentators accusing Grosjean of carrying bad driving habits from the feeder categories, the 2011 GP2 champion accepted that he was adjusting to starts being less crucial in Formula 1.

    “In GP2 everybody has the same car and at the start everybody is able to win,” Grosjean said.

    “Yet today after qualifying we are where we should be: seventh. That’s our performance, more or less. Two McLarens, the Ferraris and the Red Bulls are quicker. That’s a fact.

    “So in the race you know where you should end up and whether we are ninth, fifth, eighth or third after the first corner, then normally in a long race and with strategy [a car this competitive] should finish seventh or eighth.

    “That’s why you need to understand things when you come to Formula 1. Even if I am 10th or 11th after the first corner, the car performance should help us to come back and to get a proper race and finish where we should finish.”

  18. Pastor Maldonado believes Williams has now been left behind by its rivals in the Formula 1 development race and needs to “work hard” to catch up before the season ends.

    The team qualified only 15th and 18th in Korea with Maldonado and Bruno Senna.

    “It was really bad,” Maldonado said when asked about his qualifying form by AUTOSPORT.

    “It looked better in the morning, but we struggled in qualifying. I don’t know why.

    “For some reason we’ve missed a bit of performance. That’s clear, both cars are at the back.

    “In the past we used to be closer to Q3 and quite often in Q3 easily. Now we need to work very hard to try to introduce something to become stronger, in qualifying especially.”

    He reckons Williams’s Korea form is a symptom of it dropping off the pace, rather than a one-off result.

    “I think the other teams improved more than us. We need to work,” said Maldonado.

    Although Maldonado acknowledged that Williams’s DRS is a weak point, he said that was not the sole factor in its Korea disappointment.

    “Today what we lost was not related to the DRS, it was related to many other things,” Maldonado argued.

    “We lost time in sector one, sector two and sector three. We struggled in general.

    “I think it’s general performance. We need to work very hard to be competitive again.”

    He promised to try and make up ground with an aggressive start, but fears he will not succeed.

    “We need to go for it, try to gain some places, and then we’ll see,” said Maldonado.

    “But it will be difficult tomorrow.”

    Source: Autosport.com

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