Red Bull will be confident of continuing their recent ascendency over the Formula One grid as they start tomorrow’s Korean Grand Prix with a stranglehold over the front row. To the surprise of many, it is not the man who has won the past two races, Sebastian Vettel, who will start on pole, but instead his teammate, Mark Webber.
The two Red Bulls head McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and championship leader Fernando Alonso, with Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and Alonso’s Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa completing the top six.
“It’s a great place to start the race from,” Webber said, according to Formula1.com. “I’m looking to get off the first corner very well, that’s important as there are two long straights after that.”
With Webber 60 points back in the drivers' championship and Vettel having climbed to just four points off of Alonso, there is the possibility of team orders coming into play for Red Bull tomorrow. For now, though, Vettel admitted he was disappointed to come second after having looked the dominant force in practice.
“On the last run, I had to back off starting the lap as Massa was there, it wasn’t his fault, but I had to back off,” he said. “Nevertheless, the second lap in Q3 wasn’t good enough. I lost time in the middle sector, which seemed to be okay all weekend, but when the circuit ramped I wasn’t able to go with it, so I lost a bit, but second is a good position so start from.”
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It was McLaren’s Jenson Button who had arguably the most disappointing qualifying result, however, as he failed to make it into Q3 and will start 11th. There is also much work for his teammate, Hamilton, to do on Sunday. The 27-year-old, who will leave to drive for Mercedes at the end of the season, has little choice but to go all out for victory as he seeks to close his 42 point deficit in the championship standings with just four races remaining after tomorrow.
“Beating the Red Bulls will be about making a good getaway, making all the right strategy calls, and not making any mistakes,” he said. “There’ll be good opportunity for slipstreaming into the first few corners at the start too. I’ll be going all-out for the win tomorrow.”
Hamilton’s qualifying was almost derailed when the man he will replace at Mercedes, Michael Schumacher, pulled out of his garage right in front of the British driver. Hamilton was able to go round the soon-to-be retired German but Mercedes was still given a €10,000 fine.
At the front of the grid, Red Bulls’ advantage was not as great as the rest of the field would have feared and Alonso is still clinging to the hope of emerging from Korea with his championship lead intact.
“Our aim tomorrow? It’s very simple: to finish ahead of Vettel,” Alonso stated. “From now on, how many points one has overall will not count for much, it will be scoring one more than my closest rival that matters.”
Coverage: The Formula One Korean Grand Prix gets underway from Yeongam at 2 a.m. ET. Coverage will be provided by Speed, with detailed timing and data available on Formula1.com. Viewers in the U.K. can watch a live stream via the BBC iPlayer.