VF1blog: Vettel denies Hamilton pole at Korea
Sebastian Vettel has secured his 42nd career pole for the Korean Grand Prix, and will start the 55-lap race alongside the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. Although Mark Webber finished 3rd, the Australian driver will be forced to serve his grid penalty from Singapore. This will see the second row consist of Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg.
After three practice sessions around the Korea International Circuit, the teams and drivers finally took to the track for qualifying to determine the grid for Sunday’s 55-lap Korean Grand Prix. Both Lewis Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel had looked incredibly competitive during the numerous practice sessions, however only one man could secure pole. The opening segment of qualifying began in glorious weather conditions over the Korea International Circuit, as the Sauber of Esteban Gutierrez eventually became the first driver to take to the track.
The Mexican rookie proceeded to complete the first timed lap of the session with a 01:41.058, before the times tumbled as more drivers gradually took to the circuit. Nico Hulkenberg and then Jenson Button lowered the benchmark to a 01:40.169 early on, before Nico Rosberg produced a 01:39.415 in his Mercedes. Whilst Kimi Raikkonen struggled in his Lotus and ran wide at Turn 1, Mercedes continued to reign supreme at the top as Lewis Hamilton went fastest with a 01:38.574. Esteban Gutierrez became one of the first drivers to opt for Pirelli’s super-soft tyre compound, which enabled the Mexican to catapult himself up to 2nd position with a 01:38.725.
As the opening segment of qualifying drew to a conclusion, the times continued to improve as more drivers began following Gutierrez’s trend by switching to the super-soft compound. Nico Hulkenberg returned to the top for Sauber with a 01:38.427, before Nico Rosberg and then Kimi Raikkonen did likewise with the latter producing a 01:38.341. As the checkered flag fluttered, the usual suspects were eliminated from proceedings. This included the Williams, Caterham and Marussia duos.
The second segment of qualifying began with Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen becoming the first drivers to eventually take to the Korea International Circuit, several minutes after the session turned green. Immediately the times at the top continued to tumble, as the likes of Nico Hulkenberg, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton all momentarily rose to the top for their respective outfits with the latter producing a competitive 01:37.824 to go fastest. Nico Rosberg was quick to slot into 2nd position behind his British team-mate, in doing so creating a 1-2 at the top for the German marque.
However, the reigning World Champion of Sebastian Vettel soon brought Mercedes’ reign to a conclusion, as he stormed to the top of the timing sheets with a 01:37.569. This time at the top reinforced Red Bull’s competitiveness at the front, as further down the order the likes of the McLarens and Force Indias struggled to improve within the drop zone. Both Felipe Massa and Kimi Raikkonen were lucky to avoid elimination as the checkered flag emerged, with both Sergio Perez, Jenson Button, Daniel Ricciardo, Adrian Sutil, Paul di Resta and Jean-Eric Vergne all dropping out after Q2.
The ten remaining drivers lined up two-by-two for the all-important top ten shootout, with both drivers from Red Bull, Mercedes, Ferrari, Lotus and Sauber managing to progress to the final segment of qualifying. At the start Mark Webber wasted no time in becoming the first driver to take to the track for Red Bull, and was quickly followed out by both Nico Rosberg, Lewis Hamilton and team-mate Sebastian Vettel. Nico Rosberg managed to momentarily produce the first timed lap of the shootout, before Mark Webber almost immediately lowered the benchmark with a 01:37.464. Before anyone could gather their breath Sebastian Vettel crossed the line to fully assert his authority over proceedings, with the German sensation producing a 01:37.202.
In traditional fashion the drivers soon returned to the pits to refuel and prepare for a second flying lap, which quickly ensued with all ten drivers soon returning to the Korea International Circuit in a bid to somehow take the fight to the Red Bull of Sebastian Vettel. Initially both Fernando Alonso and Nico Hulkenberg produced fastest opening sectors, as Mark Webber conceded and returned to the pits. Lewis Hamilton managed to split the Red Bull’s and go 2nd fastest with a 01:37.420, which in turn allowed Sebastian Vettel to coast back to the pits safe in the knowledge that he had secured his 42nd career pole.
The German driver will start tomorrow’s race alongside rival Lewis Hamilton in the Mercedes, as team-mate Mark Webber serves his ten-place grid penalty from Singapore and plummets down the order to 13th. The second row of the grid will consist of the ever-impressive Romain Grosjean and Nico Rosberg, in what promises to be an intriguing Korean Grand Prix. No-one has ever won from pole around the Korea International Circuit, a stat Sebastian Vettel will be eager to change come race day.
Author: Andy Young
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