Vettel on pole for first Korean Grand Prix
Scuderia Ferrari
Vettel on pole for first Korean Grand Prix
Posted By: James Allen  |  23 Oct 2010   |  9:02 am GMT  |  124 comments

Sebastian Vettel will start tomorrow’s inaugural Korean Grand Prix from pole position after an extremely tight qualifying session. Mark Webber was just 7/100ths of a second slower in second place with Fernando Alonso a further 9/100ths off Webber.

Vettel's 9th pole in 17 races (Photo:Getty)

It is Vettel’s 14th career pole position and the 9th this season in 17 races. Perhaps more staggeringly it is Red Bull’s 14th out of 17 races. After second in Singapore, then pole and the win in Japan this is starting to look like a sprint finish by Vettel and Webber is looking nervously over his shoulder with a slender 14 point advantage over his team mate.

Webber starts on the dirty side of the grid and thus faces an immediate threat at the start of tomorrow’s Grand Prix from Fernando Alonso, who will start third on the clean side. As this is a new circuit which was very dirty at the outset, it is treacherous off the racing line and with Webber’s unconvincing starts recently, there is a very real chance he will lose at least one place tomorrow. If he finishes third behind Vettel and Alonso, his lead over Vettel will be down to just four points with two races to go.

The start will be very tight, it’s a short run to Turn 1, but then a tight angle. Then there will be further attacks into Turn 3, at the end of the longest straight in F1. The order at the end of lap one could be quite different from the grid.

Race strategy will be very important tomorrow. All the signs are that the soft tyres the top ten runners will be starting on will grain quickly, so early stops are likely. It is possible that we may see some drivers trying a two stop plan, as in Montreal. This will make the battle between the front runners very interesting and it may offer an alternative strategy to the McLaren drivers, who are likely to be much faster in the race than in qualifying. Button likes doing things differently, so we may see that tomorrow. If he doesn’t do something then his championship quest will almost certainly fade away.

Will there still be five of them Sunday night? (Photo: Getty)

The McLarens were disappointing in qualifying, Lewis Hamilton is fourth, half a second off Vettel, while Jenson Button was 7/10ths slower than Hamilton and starts 7th behind Nico Rosberg, who did an outstanding job in qualifying and Felipe Massa. “It’s nice to be ahead of one of the McLaren and Ferrari cars and also Robert who has been very close to us recently, ” said a delighted Rosberg. He was 2/10ths faster than team mate Michael Schumacher in 9th, who said that he got the maximum from the car today, which suggests that he’s accepted he is 2/10ths slower than Rosberg.

“We were very quick in practice, so I don’t know where the Red Bulls found an extra half a second in Q3,” said Hamilton. “Still, it’s important to remember that we’re still in the fight: we make good starts, and there are some long straights here, which should suit us.”

In the first part of qualifying, Hamilton set the pace ahead of Vettel. At the back of the field, Force India were obliged to use a set of soft tyres to make the cut, Sutil did it, Liuzzi failed and was eliminated from Q1 for the fourth time this season. He complained of graining problems on his lap.

Jenson Button was a second down on Hamilton, complaining over the radio that his front wheels were locking.

In Q2 the decision to be made was whether to run the hard or soft tyre. Massa went out on softs first, but was slower than Fernando Alonso. At the end of the session, most drivers went onto the soft tyre as the track improved all the time.

Eliminated from Q2 were Hulkenberg, Kobayashi, Heidfeld, Sutil, Petrov (who will start 20th on the grid after his five place penalty from the Japanese Grand Prix) Alguersuari and Buemi.

At this stage it looked as though a two lap run was the fastest way on the soft tyre, the faster lap coming on the second lap.

Alonso set the fastest time on the first runs in Q2 ahead of Vettel and Hamilton, with Webber down in 5th. But Webber stuck with the two lap run tactic for his final attempt, while Vettel nailed it in one.

All weekend the teams have been working out whether to run downforce for curves of Sectors 2 and 3 or run low drag for the straights. Judging from the speed trap times, Ferrari opted to run extra downforce as Alonso is slower than both Webber and Vettel on the straight. McLaren went for the straight line speed and were 6km/h faster.

KOREAN GRAND PRIX, Yeongam, Qualifying
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1:37.123 1:36.074 1:35.585
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1:37.373 1:36.039 1:35.659
3. Alonso Ferrari 1:37.144 1:36.287 1:35.766
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1:37.113 1:36.197 1:36.062
5. Rosberg Mercedes 1:37.708 1:36.791 1:36.535
6. Massa Ferrari 1:37.515 1:36.169 1:36.571
7. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1:38.123 1:37.064 1:36.731
8. Kubica Renault 1:37.703 1:37.179 1:36.824
9. Schumacher Mercedes 1:37.980 1:37.077 1:36.950
10. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1:38.257 1:37.511 1:36.998
11. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth 1:38.115 1:37.620
12. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.429 1:37.643
13. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 1:38.171 1:37.715
14. Sutil Force India-Mercedes 1:38.572 1:37.783
15. Petrov Renault 1:38.174 1:37.799 *
16. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.583 1:37.853
17. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1:38.621 1:38.594
18. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 1:38.955
19. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 1:40.521
20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1:40.748
21. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 1:41.768
22. di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 1:42.325
23. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth 1:42.444
24. Senna HRT-Cosworth 1:43.283

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Hi James,

Do you think Vettel will use a new engine and take a grid slot penalty in Brazil or run an old unit? Also how do you think Alonso is going as far as engines go?

Webber seems to be in the best position as far as engines go I think? I am under the impression his last engine went in the car before practice 2 and only got about 3 laps of racing today.


I wish they would start the race. I used to enjoy wet races, until recently. Surely wet races are no more dangerous than those prior to 2009.


As long as either one of the Red Bull drivers wins the WDC & Red Bull the WCC, I am happy!

I want a new WDC & WCC this year just like last year!

Thomas in Australia

On another note, surely this spells the end for Bruno Senna?

Thomas in Australia

I can’t begin to imagine the pressure of starting from P2 on the filthy side with Alonso and Hamilton right behind you.

Poor old Webbo can’t have slept too well last night.


Vettel really annoys me with his stupid finger thing!

Great lap though.


He’s a prodigious talent, but that finger gesture makes me want to poke him in the eye 🙂


I think it’s gonna be a cracking race!

The Maccas seem to have good top speeds – as do the Merc’s – giving them opportunities in sector 1 (Top 6 in speed trap were all powered by the Merc engine). The Bulls are stunning in sector 3 and good in sector 2. Alonso is consistent all the way around. It’s going to be very interesting indeed 🙂

If we do get rain before the race, which washes the track green, will it negate the (presumed) advantage that those starting in odd numbered grid slots appear to have?


With the hard rain now falling in Korea, we should have a very interesting race. If it dries we should have two or maybe three stops.


I’m afraid Buttons season is over.

Very lucky last year but the bottom line is…. he just isnt fast enough !

All he ever complains about is tyres .

surely it must affect all other drivers as they are all on the same tyres.


I think Webber won’t only be jumped by Alonso at the start, but also Hamilton and Rosberg.

Webber has had poor starts the last 5-6 races, always losing a couple of places. I think Vettel could be leading the championship at the end of the race, if he doesn’t bin it…


Now the best possible result for tomorrow, to keep the championship going, is:

Rambo and Seb take each other out, Alonso wins before Hamilton.


Well they didn’t actually take each other out but… I got the result right. Should have wagered money on it..


Disappointed with Kubica’s position. He says balance changed between FP and qualifying. Is he a bit over-sensitive (like Jenson)? I think the best guys like Alonso and Hamilton can drive around such issues…



Fernando had another lap in Q3. Why did he not go for it? The track was getting faster and faster and the cars lighter. Did he think he had pole?


Maybe not enough fuel…


One word. Fuel.


Enough fuel for another lap?


Probably had no fuel left to do another lap, would be my guess.


James, do you agree that Jenson has been outperformed by Lewis comprehensively this season in terms of speed? For example today, he was a second of Lewis’ pace in Q1 and Q2, and seven tenths off in Q3 — that’s massive. To put it in perspective, MS is four tenths behind Rosberg, and is considered to be struggling.

In my view the current points standings don’t reflect the true picture of Jenson’s speed deficit. Lewis threw away between 40 and 50 points over the last four races and is still leading Jenson. Second, if it were not for some of those “strategic” calls early in the season (that could’ve gone one way or another), Jenson would be several more points behind Lewis.

James, do you have any indication of what the people in McLaren make of the current world champion in comparison with the performance of his team mate?



I am 10000% sure that next season will be a nightmare for JENSON. He get away with great gambles and some silly mistakes from Lewis and he was bulletproof (zero mistakes) and yet he’s behind.

Next season is the beginning of the end for poor Jenson.


Lewis has certainly had Jenson where he wanted him for a while now, with the exception of Monza, where Lewis went for the wrong set up


people are acting as if jenson was happy with the car and was 7 tenths slower but he was struggling with tyre temperatures and locking brakes stop overreacting this happened to jb last year with rubens



Talking of set ups. Has anyone else noticed how much faster Button is than Hamilton thro the speed trap. Does this mean that Button is running a different set up to Hamilton with less downforce and this could be why he struggled with the tyres, not an excuse just an error by Buutons half of the garage.


Regardless of individual preference, for the benefit of everyone and the excitement of the championship, we need Button to win. Then Hamilton second and both Red Bulls and Alonso out of the points.

What a result that would be as we go to the last two GP’s!


heavy rain for 2morrow AM look like another fantastic race hope JB&LH do very well they got the pace for the race and with the help of the shower lewis can take care of the bulls&ferrari by the end of the first sector.looking good.


Fingers crossed for Webber. Matter of time until Vettel makes an usual mistake. Hopefully he doesn’t run into Alonso or Webber.

By the way JA putting the maths aside there’s already only 3 left to fight for the championship, not 5.


Agree with the 3 comment. The only way jenson or Lewis will have a chance is to win all 3. And that will be very difficult to say the least.

That doesn’t mean I won’t be cheering them to do it tomorrow! I’d like to see mark win it if not.


Unless Vettel makes a strike taking out both Webber and Alonso. That might put Hamilton back in shape.

As for poor Jenson, he needs some help from some supernatural powers to intervene.


great pole from Vettel…. He has to be the fastest man in F1 and is quickly becoming the most consistant as well

Win the title Seb!!!!!!!!!!!


I like Vettel, but most consistent? Come on.


Certainly over over 1 lap he’s up there.

He is nowhere near some of his rivals on consistency. If he was consistent he’d had won this years wdc already.


You can’t deny that he was fast…really impressive lap. What annoys me about Vettel is all this finger pointing stuff when he gets out of his car at the end of qualifying.

I almost want to grab him and tell him that you don’t win a race on Saturday afternoon’s, and given his relatively poor pole to win conversion rate this season, all this ‘number 1’ stuff seems to be a bit premature and immature.


What have you to say about Hamilton’s cockiness ? Boy, I hate the way Lewis rates himself and the way he shows it. There’s nothing natural about the guy and he’s the only one in that case.

Vettel, Webber, Alonso and Button all do have natural behaviour. I don’t like Alonso’s behaviour generally, he’s not relaxed but that’s the way he is, he’s natural.

Lewis is playing a role. He wanna be a super star as much as a world champion but he’s lacking natural charisma in my opinion. Too fake and it shows.


James – can you explain how, if Fernando was running more downforce and compromising his straight line speed, he was fastest through the first sector?


He did an awesome job because his straight line speed is well down below Red Bull in bottom half of the list


It’s interesting, as listening to some of the drivers’ comments, particularly those of Sebastian Vettel, apparently there’s not a great deal a driver can do to influence the sector time, given it’s just straights and breaking zones?

I saw the speed trap times too and I guess that the Ferrari must behave supremely under breaking. We know it has a reputation for being very stable in the breaking zones but I’m surprised that Fernando made such as gain.

Clearly he nailed it.

I have to say, I’m loving watching Fernando Alonso at the moment, I just hope he’s in the championship hunt right until the end because we’ve seen some Champions’ drives from him in the second half the season.

As much as I rate Webber and Vettel, I don’t think they’re quite at the level to produce performances like that in machinery that’s good but clearly not as fast as the competition.


Really astonishing how he managed that ! Is it because of the famous FERRARI traction out of slow corners.


I suspect the Red Bull drives have been on the “big lever” to adjust there ride height again 😀


Webbers chance is if Alonso and Vets squable at the first corner (like Massa in germany) and Webber slips by. MW WDC 2010, thats my hope anyway


One of the most interesting things were what the BBC guys said. They said that Vettel is more comfortable with the updates which the team has produced in recent times and that Webber has lost control that he had earlier in the season. If it is true, one can make his own conclusions.

I agree that the strategy will be important, but I doubt that the tires will be such a problem as for example in Montreal.

Also it is quite clear that Button’s challenge is over anyway. Even for Hamilton it almost impossible to win this title.

It is good that at least James praised Rosberg. Almost nobody today mentioned him. He really was one of the best drivers in qualifying. A really good performance.


It’s going to be an exciting race tomorrow. The track, despite all the little problems, seems to be one of the best Tilke’s creations so far. However, overtaking is not going to be easy due to slippery surface outside racing lines. But again, if it rains in the morning, it may wash out all the rubber off the track and considering the amount of mistakes done by everyone during practices, I expect a lot of people exploring the landscape in the first half of the race.


Great qualifying, very interesting and a track always improving and really nice to watch.

Great job by Seb again he seems to be on a row now and he might take the championship if he converts his poles into wins. Mark as to respond and he might have a chance at Brasil.

Alonso said he was happy and wasn´t expecting pole but it didn´t look that away in the camera, the look on his face watching the time screen was showing a litle bit disapoitment.

As for the wet-race set-up i don´t think they take that route because if we have a dry race and with the continous rubbering of the track they would be in trouble.

I think mclaren as to put all their money on Lewis, he his the one that can give them the champioship. Button just doesn´t have the speed or the confidence of Lewis, who might be a menace for Alonso and Webber if he has a god start.

I´m hoping for a dry race and i´d love that after some laps everybody will be in trouble with tyres and we might see a good race like in Canada.

James, Vettel´s last try was only one fast lap, right? Only Webber did two fast laps?


That is correct


If it rains tomorrow morning , the track will lose rubber down and be very, very slippery.

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