Sebastian Vettel has done what he does best by putting his Red Bull Racing car on pole position. The German is on pole for half of this year's races and will start ahead of teammate Webber for tomorrow's race. Double champion Fernando Alonso will start from third.
Qualifying day sees the new Korean track still as dusty as ever, even though the FIA ordered the marshalls to clean the circuit thoroughly through the night. The weather meanwhile is cloudy and no sun is to be seen during this session.
Heikki Kovalainen is the first to put in a time. He does a 1:45.450 on the softer tyres. 9 minutes into the session Hamilton is the first of the big guns to put in a flying lap. One minute later Alonso puts in the fastest time and is on the harder tyre just like Hamilton.
Meanwhile Kobayashi and Glock find out why this is such a tricky circuit. When missing the racing line just slightly, you go of, through the grass, throwing a lot of dirt back onto the track.
Early in the second half of Q1, the Red Bulls take the track simultaneously and can easily mix themselves between the likes of Alonso and Hamilton. With only 5 minutes to go, Hamilton is quickest, 0.010s quicker than Vettel and ahead of Alonso and Webber. The 5th title contender is struggling badly and fails to get his tyres warmed up.
On the rear end of the timesheet, the usual suspect pop up. It is Liuzzi who joins the new teams to drop out of Q1 after Sutil and Kubica just nearly managed to go through to the second part of qualifying.
In the second session most drivers are switching to the softer tyre, but Vettel and Webber put in their first laps on the primes, with Vettel coming out fastest out of the blue. Webber is a single tenth down on this teammate, and a further tenth down are both Ferrari cars.
With 30 seconds left on the clock, Ferrari put in a few mighty laps on the option tyres. Massa is quickest when the clock stops, ahead of his teammate, only to see Vettel take the lead again seconds later. The top drivers are extremely closely matched though, with two tenths covering the top 5 runners.
A small amount of oversteer in the twisty section cost Hulkenberg his chance to move into Q3, but instead got stuck in 11th place. Behind him on the grid will be Kobayashi, Heidfeld, Sutil, Petrov, Alguersuari and Buemi.
Webber is the first to try to put in a flying lap in Q3. He is running a brand new engine since FP3, possibly giving him an edge over the other cars.
Webber's lap wasn't great though, and Button even went through the grass on his first flying lap. Alonso was quickest, 0.072s ahead of Vettel. Hamilton is third, ahead of Kubica, Webber, Button and Barrichello.
Massa on the other hand is trying a different schedule and goes for his flying lap with 4 minutes to go into the session.
It is particularly interesting how the Red Bulls put their times in through the different sectors of this circuit. The first one is where they generally struggle, down almost 5 tenths on the Ferraris, but then fighting their way back up through the twisty sections.
On the next attempts, Webber is out quickly and looks into setting 2 flying laps. His first one wasn't great, but the second one was better than anyone, except for Vettel. The latter managed to do a first sector being just 2 tenths down on Alonso, allowing him to let the Red Bull work through the corners.
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull||01:35.585||19|
|2.||Mark Webber||Red Bull||01:35.659||21|
|5.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes Grand Prix||01:36.535||18|
|9.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes Grand Prix||01:36.950||22|
|14.||Adrian Sutil||Force India F1||01:37.783||18|
|16.||Jaime Alguersuari||Scuderia Toro Rosso||01:37.853||18|
|17.||Sebastien Buemi||Scuderia Toro Rosso||01:38.594||16|
|18.||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India F1||01:38.955||10|
|19.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus F1||01:40.521||10|
|20.||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing||01:40.748||8|
|21.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus F1||01:41.768||9|
|22.||Lucas Di Grassi||Virgin Racing||01:42.325||10|
|23.||Sakon Yamamoto||Hrt F1 Team||01:42.444||10|
|24.||Bruno Senna||Hrt F1 Team||01:43.283||7|