Vettel, Webber thump rivals in Korea qauly

during practice for the Korean Formula One Grand Prix at the Korea International Circuit on October 22, 2010 in Yeongam-gun, South Korea.

Sebastian Vettel powers to pole position for the Korean GP

Oct.23 (Grand Prix 247) Sebastian Vettel left it very late to steal pole position for the inaugural 2010 Korean Grand Prix, while team mate Mark Webber annexed the front row for Red Bull by going second quickest. The pair rubbishing predictions that the RB6 would be compromised on the high speed Yeongam circuit, leaving their rivals scratching their heads as both McLaren and Ferrari expected one of their cars on the front row.

Pole position Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday 23 October 2010.

Pole position winner Sebastian Vettel with Mark Webber (second) and Fernando Alonso (third)

Vettel said, “It was very close at the end. I was happy with the car in the first run but couldn’t put the lap time in especially in the first sector. In the second run I was happier there. In the last run I gave a little bit too much margin and lost in the middle section and I thought maybe it was not enough so I speeded up in the final sector and it was enough for pole. It’s good after a difficult day yesterday.”

Webber commented, “I wasn’t that happy on my first timed laps so it was more stable and comfortable for me to do two timed laps. It would have been nice to get pole but it’s a good place to start the race. Fernando will be pretty solid off the line, for sure. But that’s not going to make or break the world championship.”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari in parc ferme.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday 23 October 2010.

Fernando Alonso's in parc ferme after qualifying

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso had to settle for third place on the grid, which will give him a grid slot on the clean side of the grid tucked in behind Vettel. There was very little to separate the trio, 0.181 seconds in fact.

Alonso reflected, “It was a nice qualifying for us. We found the pace straight away with the prime tyres and the car was very very quick on the soft. We knew we had a little possibility [to be on pole] but not too much because Red Bull are normally quicker than us in Q3. P3 is our maximum potential today which in a way is good news because qualifying is not our strong point so we are in good shape for the race. We must take care for the weather and we must make sure we finish the race.”

Up next was Lewis Hamilton who made it four title contenders on the first two rows by going fourth quickest in his McLaren Mercedes.

Nico Rosberg delivered the surprise of the session by claiming fifth place on the grid and thus will head up the third row in the Mercedes GP.

Felipe Massa, again failing to match his Ferrari team mate by almost a second, will start from sixth.

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday 23 October 2010.

Jenson Button after qualifying

The fifth contender, Jenson Button, struggled throughout qualifying with lack of grip and was over half a second down on McLaren Mercedes team mate Hamilton. Button will start from seventh on the grid. He said, “The car was good yesterday and this morning I felt very happy with the car but this afternoon I just didn’t get the tyre temperature. But the good news is I’m on the clean side and there are two long straights so it’s going to be a fun start.”

Starting from eigth will be Renault’s Robert Kubica who topped the timing sheets earlier in the day, during free practice, but well over a second down on the Renault powered Red Bulls.

Rubens Barrichello (BRA) Williams and Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP.  Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday 23 October 2010.

Rubens Barrichello and Michael Schumacher have a post qualy chat

Mercedes GP’s Michael Schumacher was ninth fastest with Williams veteran Rubens Barrichello tenth best. The growing feud between the two, which started with the race incident in Hungary earlier this year, was further fuelled after  what Barrichello felt was a block from his former Ferrari team mate.

The Brazilian said afterwards, “I don’t want it to become personal, we have had problems in the past and still having problems like in Hungary. I am a very cool guy and I have respect for the slowest and the quickest ones. We all make mistakes. He just came to apologise that the team did not tell him but he had mirrors. I am a little bit sad.”

Q1: Liuzzi fails along with usual suspects

Early shower for Vitantonio Liuzzi

Early shower for Vitantonio Liuzzi

Vitantonio Liuzzi increased the pressure on himself, to retain his seat at Force India for 2011, by failing to make it out of Q1 and will start the Korean GP from 18th with fellow Italian Jarno Trulli heading up the tenth row in his Lotus, fastest of the new team drivers.

Liuzzi told BBC, “Basically we are suffering with (tyre) graining, and I picked up a puncture in practice so didn’t get as much running. In my third lap the car was understeering massively so it might be a big problem for the race but it will make things exciting that’s for sure.”

Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock was 20th with Lotus driver Heikki Kovalainen next up in 21st with Lucas di Grassi  ending 22nd on the timing screens.

At the foot of the grid were the Hispania Racing pair of Sakon Yamamoto and Bruno Senna in 23rd and 24th respectively.

At the top it was Hamilton top ahead of Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Kubica, Rosberg, Schumacher, Hulkenberg and Button. The reigning World Champion radioed his team early on in the session: “I am really struggling to get the tyre working, to get any temperature in them at all.”

Q2: No big surprises

Granstand view

Granstand view

Nico Hulkenberg was fastest rookie but failed to progress as his time in the Williams was 11th fastest in the session. Kamui Kobayashi was best of the Sauber duo in 12th with Team mate Nick Heidfeld 12th  with a mere 0.023 separating them.

Adrian Sutil will start from 14th in his Force India while Vitaly Petrov who was 15th fastest will drop to 20th on the grid due to the penalty he incurred after his start line incident in Japan.

The Toro Rosso pair of Jaime Alguersuari and Sebastian Buemi were 16th and 17th respectively.

Red Bull fired a warning with Webber topping the timing screens at the end of Q2, ahead of Vettel, Massa, Hamilton, Alonso, Rosberg, Button, Schumacher, Kubica and Barrichello.

Qualifying – 23 October 2010

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 5 Sebastian Vettel RBR-Renault 1:37.123 1:36.074 1:35.585 19
2 6 Mark Webber RBR-Renault 1:37.373 1:36.039 1:35.659 21
3 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:37.144 1:36.287 1:35.766 23
4 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.113 1:36.197 1:36.062 20
5 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP 1:37.708 1:36.791 1:36.535 18
6 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:37.515 1:36.169 1:36.571 18
7 1 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.123 1:37.064 1:36.731 21
8 11 Robert Kubica Renault 1:37.703 1:37.179 1:36.824 21
9 3 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP 1:37.980 1:37.077 1:36.950 22
10 9 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:38.257 1:37.511 1:36.998 25
11 10 Nico Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:38.115 1:37.620 18
12 23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.429 1:37.643 15
13 22 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.171 1:37.715 16
14 14 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:38.572 1:37.783 18
15 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1:38.174 1:37.799 18
16 17 Jaime Alguersuari STR-Ferrari 1:38.583 1:37.853 18
17 16 Sebastien Buemi STR-Ferrari 1:38.621 1:38.594 16
18 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:38.955 10
19 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.521 10
20 24 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:40.748 8
21 19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:41.768 9
22 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.325 10
23 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:42.444 10
24 21 Bruno Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:43.283