Korea Qualifying: Same old story as too good Vettel claims pole yet again

Sebastian Vettel will start the Korean GP from pole position

Sebastian Vettel will start the Korean GP from pole position

World Champion elect Sebastian Vettel once again – in ‘Groundhog Day style’ – delivered an outstanding lap when it really mattered, to claim his fourth consecutive pole position and set himself up nicely for four wins in a row and with it took a step closer to his fourth World Drivers’ title.

The Red Bull driver needed only one lap, his first in Q3 to claim the top spot start position with a time of 1:37.202 and with it stamp his authority on day two after playing second fiddle to Lewis Hamilton on the opening day at the circuit in Mokpo.

The result was a big milestone for Renault, as this was 208th Formula 1 pole position by a Renault powered car, which matches the all-time record held by Ferrari.

Vettel said after his 42nd career pole, “I think it was fairly close. We had a very good lap on my first attempt. I knew it would be tricky for me to beat that time. I tried but I caught Kimi on [my] warm up lap on the second run. I was a bit too close, [it was] not ideal. Fortunately, the first lap was good enough.”

Pole winner Sebastian Vettel celebrates in parc ferme

Pole winner Sebastian Vettel celebrates in parc ferme

“As expected Mercedes was very strong. It’s a tight battle. It’s a bit of a surprise that we’re very good in sector one, which is mostly straights. We have got the balance right this weekend and I improved the car from yesterday as I was not entirely happy after practice so we can be happy with what we’ve achieved,” added the triple World Champion.

It was Hamilton and Mercedes who took the fight to Vettel, but in the end he was 0.202 of a second down on the top time and he will start from second place on  the grid, but his body language in parc ferme revealed a driver resigned to the fact that his main rival currently has an edge that is simply out of reach.

“You’ve always got be looking ahead, but we did as good a job as we could. We got the most out of the car. It has been a good qualifying [session] for us and hopefully tomorrow we will be able to fight with [the Red Bulls]. There’s threats all around but I’m just looking forward,” said Hamilton.

Lewis Hamilton was second fastest

Lewis Hamilton was second fastest

Mark Webber could not match his teammate, however, he did set the third fastest time – a fraction off Hamilton’s best – but will drop down ten grid places due to receiving a third reprimand after his ‘taxi ride’ in Singapore. The Australian had a good look at the ‘taxi’which gave him the lift that night when he was in parc ferme after Korean quali.

Webber summed up his thoughts, “I’m pretty happy with qualifying. I could be two positions better off but will start in 13th because of the penalty. It was a tight qualifying session. We wanted to improve the car. The conditions will be different again tomorrow and we will see how it goes.”

Although a Red Bull versus Mercedes cat-fight was predicted, Romain Grosjean gave a good account of himself and threw himself in the mix with the fourth fastest time. Lotus may lack the outright pace of the Red Bull’s and the Mercedes duo. In race trim he may be the thorn in their side and will be chuffed to be starting on the clean side of the track, behind Vettel.

Mark Webber has a good look at his Ferrari 'taxi'

Mark Webber has a good look at his Ferrari ‘taxi’

Nico Rosberg has not been able to match his teammate so far this weekend at the Yeongam venue. He was fifth fastest, albeit over a quarter second down on his Silver Arrows teammate.

Row three (thanks to Webber’s demotion) will be an all red affair with Ferrari pair Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa sixth and seventh respectively. The Maranello outfit will also be buoyed by their starting positions as they too have a race pace capable of challenging for podium positions, and even victories.

The next row will also be all Ferrari powered with the pair of Saubers of Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, eighth and ninth on the timing screens also benefiting from Webber’s penalty. The Swiss team carries the momentum which they enjoyed in Singapore to Korea and have trumped some of their more illustrious rivals. It was their best qualifying session of the season thus far.

Romain Grosjean will start from third on the grid

Romain Grosjean will start from third on the grid

Kimi Raikkonen’s weekend in Korea has hardly been memorable, a crash in the dying moment of FP1 put him on the back foot; he was no match for his teammate. Consequently he was down in tenth on the timing screens at the end of Q3.

Both McLaren drivers failed to progress beyond Q2, with Sergio Perez a mere 0.003 of a second up on teammate Jenson Button – they will start from 10th and 11th on the grid amid bitter disappointment for a team that last year was battling for the World Championship around this time.

Button reflected, “We had more time [in the car], but I came up behind Kimi [Raikkonen] on the last lap, and in high-speed corners you do get affected more than low-speed corners. The first couple of laps tomorrow [in the race] will be very important.”

It was also a disappointing day for Williams, a team that last year scored a famous victory, but this year has slipped down the pecking order at an alarming rate. Both Valtteri Bottas (17th) and Pastor Maldonado (18th) failed to make it beyond Q1 and were only just better than the usual bottom feeders Caterham and Marussia. How the mighty have fallen…

Esteban Gutierrez enjoyed a good qualifying session

Esteban Gutierrez enjoyed a good qualifying session

The script is familiar and can be penciled already: Vettel gets pole on Saturday, then on Sunday from the moment the red lights turn off his Red Bull powers into the distance leaving everyone eating his dust and two hours later he celebrates on the top step of the podium.

Perhaps the only glimmer of hope for his rivals, certainly one which several teams are clinging to as a game changer on race day, is that rain is expected.

Needless to say, the World Champion is not concerned what mother nature has in store, “It’s not a disaster if it starts to rain, we have rain tyres in the garage. They were talking about heavy winds. When I arrived on Wednesday, it was very windy, but it has died down since then and I think the typhoon has changed direction. If we get some rain from the typhoon, it doesn’t matter. The most important thing is that we did the job today.” (GP247)

Subbed by AJN.

Sebastian Vettel targeting his eighth win of the season

Sebastian Vettel targeting his eighth win of the season

Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying – Saturday, 5 October 2013

Pos No Driver Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Laps
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:38.683 1:37.569 1:37.202 13
2 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 1:38.574 1:37.824 1:37.420 16
3 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 1:39.138 1:37.840 1:37.464 13
4 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1:39.065 1:38.076 1:37.531 14
5 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1:38.418 1:38.031 1:37.679 16
6 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1:38.520 1:37.978 1:38.038 17
7 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1:38.884 1:38.295 1:38.223 16
8 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.427 1:37.913 1:38.237 17
9 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.725 1:38.327 1:38.405 15
10 7 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 1:38.341 1:38.181 1:38.822 17
11 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 1:39.049 1:38.362 14
12 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.882 1:38.365 14
13 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 1:38.525 1:38.417 14
14 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:38.988 1:38.431 15
15 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1:39.185 1:38.718 15
16 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 1:39.075 1:38.781 13
17 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 1:39.470 8
18 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1:39.987 8
19 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 1:40.864 6
20 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 1:40.871 6
21 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.169 6
22 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 1:41.322 6
Q1 107% Time 1:45.224

Note – Webber penalised 10 grid places for accumulating three stewards’ reprimands

  • Boycottthebull

    Grosjean out qualifying his team mate yet again. Unlike all the nay sayers I think Lotus will be more than fine next year.

  • famer

    Didn’t bother watching this morning. Downgraded my DSTV Package. As a commited Formula 1 fan for almost three decades , i’m about to throw in the towel for the rest of the season. I wanna watch a battle for the win not for second place. Monotonous Formula 1 season ending.

  • andre

    Expect more boo-ing if this dude wins tommorrow. It’s not just the tifosi that is boo-ing him. He’s not making friends at the moment. He is driving a dream of a car. By lap 2 he will be 3.5 seconds ahead of Lewis or who ever will be in 2 after the start, Grosjean ?

  • Frijns for WDC

    if he can obtain some consistency it will be a potential WDC i feel.

    Still i think Lotus will be fine considering driver line-up, but i also feel that they will be no contenders next year.

    Next year will be about beating the Newey-car once again. And the only ones i see able to really do that is a Brawn-car. Maybe ferrari lucks out in the WCC now that they have 2 super-consistent drivers for 2014. That might well bring them the WCC-title if they manage to build an at least half-decent car.

    RedBull should win actually every championship, since they are spending the most resources, it would actually be a major fail every time they don’t take the title.

    MB decided this year to not stick to the RRA (resource restriction agreement) which they did the previous three years, simply because McLaren, Ferrari and RBR also don’t respect the agreement, with RBR spending by far the most money.

    I only see a fight between MB and RBR next year, and that is only IF.. if they manage to build a fast enough car.

    I would like to see Vettel crushed though, but i rather see Vettel prove his quality in an inferior car. When Vettel finally moves to Ferrari we can judge how much was Vettel, and how much was Newey (of course we all know already)

  • Frijns for WDC

    btw im not saying that Vettel is bad driver, i think he is a very good and foremost, very consistent driver. Fr sure he is among the best, but it can’t be denied (especially after last Singapore GP) that he has by a long, long way the fastest car under his sweet buttocks ;)

    I think any other highly rated F1 driver could have done the same, given the same piece of machinery.
    Still awesome how the build RBR in less then a decade to what it is.. even though i will not watch tomorrow’s race. because the winner is already announced in Q3 today ;)

  • NaySayer

    Qualy head to head Kimi=9, Gro=5.
    Points: Kimi=149 Gro=57.
    Yeah…Lotus will be more than fine next year…

  • P.James

    BORING!BORING!!BORING!!!!!!!.time to watch COMPETITIVE sport…..F1 is currently CRAP……

  • backmarker

    @Boycottthebull do you really believe in your heart that Grojean can make his way from 10 or 13 on the grid to catch a podium over and over again?

  • Lotus is falling apart

    Face it Lotus is falling apart. They are going to put everything behind Grosjean now that Kimi has signed with Ferrari so Don’t expect Kimi to out qualify Romain any mote this year, but Lotus can’t take away Kimi’s superior race craft so in the end Kimi will still beat Romain more often than not even with Lotus putting all their eggs in Romains basket now.

    I think a lot of you are also forgetting a man named Rory Byrne who kicked Newey’s rear end for seven years.

    While Newey is very very good that are other designers who are as good and have designed cars that have beat his designs.

    Newey has also been known to design a few dogs for cars as well.

    Brawn, LOL, Brawn is not the designing the next Mercedes and look at how long they floundered until they did their illegal tire test under the leadership of Brawn. I don’t see Mercedes at the top next year and I see RedBull slipping, Lotus just do not have the money and will fall back to a mid pack runner and maybe even fold up due to lack of money. Ferrari is in the cat birds seat with Rory Byrne designing their 2014 car.

  • Red Bull Cheats

    @NaySayer, thanks, saved me looking up the stats. Grosjean is a joke. Hot and cold, and when he’s hot he crashes a lot.

  • farizY

    Boring,monotonous,blah,blah,blah! Go watch GP2 other supporting races, identical cars.
    You guys are saying it as if it is Redbull’s fault for getting the regulations right. Pftt.

  • Tinto

    Grosjean is a bit of a Vettel, but with emotionals issues. Wait and see, this guy is gonna grow.

    Vettel, a great Q3 when things really mattered.

  • Boycotthehaters

    “When Vettel finally moves to Ferrari we can judge how much was Vettel, and how much was Newey (of course we all know already)”

    People like you are really, really stupid. What lame excuses will you trot out when Vettel wins further WDC’s with a different team? No doubt that car, whatever it is, will also be described as “by a long, long way the fastest car”.

  • speeding

    hopefully no booooooing tomorrow because Hamilton is going to push Vettel into DNF…..

  • J Dubya

    This race has the best chance so far to be won by some one other than Vettel. With Grosjean starting P3, there’s an outside chance that he may take Vettel out in turn 1 or 2.

  • Sick of The Hate

    “Korea Qualifying: Same old story as too good Vettel claims pole “Same old story as too good Vettel claims pole yet again”

    What a biased and misleading heading.

    This is race 14; Vettel has won pole 6 times and Hamilton has won pole 5 times.

    Red Bull has won pole 6 times and Mercedes has won pole 8 times.

    Not exactly “the same old story”. The real Same old story is a so-called ‘Journalist’ attempt to sway opinion with a misleading heading.