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Mark Webber on pole for Korean Grand Prix, as Vettel drops script in final run
Posted By: James Allen  |  13 Oct 2012   |  7:33 am GMT  |  147 comments

Mark Webber took pole position for the Korean Grand Prix with a strong final lap, bouncing back from an engine software problem in final practice to seal an impressive pole position and beat his team mate by 7/100ths of a second.

Webber spent time with the world’s fastest man Usain Bolt earlier this week and the golden glow certainly seems to have rubbed off on the Australian, who was delighted with his lap.

It’s the 36 year old’s second pole of the season, but the first he has won for himself on the track; he inherited the pole in Monaco from Schumacher thanks to a steward’s penalty. The freshly updated Red Bull car has had the edge all weekend, but in the end the gaps back to Hamilton at 2/10ths and to Alonso at 3/10ths were not as big as perhaps expected.

Also worth noting is that Webber had the pole position without setting the fastest time in any of the three sectors, it was just a very fast and consistent lap.

Webber beat Vettel for pace today, but his team mate, who had dominated practice and qualifying up to that point, had a poor first sector when it mattered.

Vettel misread what Felipe Massa was doing in the final sector as he came through to start his final lap; whatever effect it had on Vettel, it meant that his first sector time was down on his first run and that was enough to lose the initiative,

“Why didn’t you tell me about Massa?” an agitated Vettel asked over the radio on the slow down lap.

It was a second Red Bull front row lock out in a row after Japan, Webber’s pole was the 11th of his career and it will make for an interesting race, as when Webber starts at the front he generally does pretty well in the race.

“It was a reasonable lap, there have been few that have been nip and tuck this year,”said Webber. “We have a pretty handy car around here for sure. The hard work is paying off. We had a software glitch in practice so a little bit on the back foot going into qualifying.”

Red Bull showed that it had good performance on the long runs in practice, so it will be quite tough for the McLarens and Ferraris to find a way to get ahead of them on Sunday, while the in house battle at Red Bull will be interesting with Vettel clearly well ahead of Webber in the championship.

For example, if Webber were to win the race with Vettel second, then Alonso can retain his championship lead by one point if he beats Hamilton to the podium. The intrigue will be over the Red Bull tactics; they do not tend to employ team orders when both drivers have a shot at the championship, but Webber is 60 points behind Alonso, so his chances are far less than Vettel’s. Nevertheless a win tomorrow would certainly help towards redressing that.

Red Bull dominated the practice session build up to the qualifying with Vettel, although Webber had lost time on Saturday morning with a data issue on the engine which led to it not firing.

The temperature dropped a little before the start of qualifying, as cloud cover grew heavier.

In Q1 Narain Karthikeyan had a scary moment when he felt his brakes go away and he had a lurid spin off the track.

Massa and Raikkonen set the early pace on the soft tyres, then Vettel came in and smashed their time by six tenths. Vettel did the time on the third lap on the tyre, Raikkonen on the fifth, as the drivers found the best way to get the tyres to work.

Times were slower than in 2011, where the fastest in Q1 was 1m 37.5 and in the 1m 35s in Q2 and Q3.

Vettel and Webber were the fastest, Fernando Alonso was forced to use a set of supersoft tyres, where Felipe Massa wasn’t and yet he still could only manage 16th place, with Lewis Hamilton flirting with danger in 17th, refusing to rely on supersoft tyres.

Bruno Senna was unable to get it together and was eliminated, along with Petrov, who outpaced his team mate Kovalainen. Charles Pic beat his team mate Glock at Marussia.

In Q2 the drivers all moved to the supersoft tyre and Vettel was again straight onto the top, with Alonso and Hamilton getting it together too.

In the final part of the session Daniel Ricciardo stopped on track in the final sector with a gearbox issue, bringing out yellow flags out, as Raikkonen had done in qualifying in Japan.

Many drivers improved during this time, but not Jenson Button, who was 11th. Paul di Resta was 2/10ths slower than Hulkenberg and was eliminated, while team mate Nico Hulkenberg got through. Also eliminated in Q2 were Perez, Kobayashi, Maldonado, Ricciardo and Vergne.

It means that Button will start alongside his team mate for next year, Sergio Perez on the grid.

In Q3 Vettel was fastest, with Alonso second ahead of Webber, Massa and Hamilton, with Raikkonen the faster of the Lotus pair. The Mercedes pair and Hulkenberg meanwhile went out but pitted without setting a time.

In the final runs, Webber did a good lap, while Vettel lost time in the first sector and this swung the advantage to Webber.

Hamilton and Alonso both did good laps for third and fourth places, ahead of Raikkonen who was less than 1/10th of a second behind the Ferrari and only 0.38s behind the pole man in the updated Lotus.


1. Mark Webber Red Bull 1m37.242s
2. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 1m37.316s + 0.074
3. Lewis Hamilton McLaren 1m37.469s + 0.227
4. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m37.534s + 0.292
5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 1m37.625s + 0.383
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m37.884s + 0.642
7. Romain Grosjean Lotus 1m37.934s + 0.692
8. Nico Hulkenberg Force India 1m38.266s + 1.024
9. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m38.361s + 1.119
10. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m38.513s + 1.271

11. Jenson Button McLaren 1m38.441s + 0.674
12. Sergio Perez Sauber 1m38.460s + 0.693
13. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber 1m38.594s + 0.827
14. Paul di Resta Force India 1m38.643s + 0.876
15. Pastor Maldonado Williams 1m38.725s + 0.958
16. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso 1m39.084s + 1.317
17. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso 1m39.340s + 1.573

18. Bruno Senna Williams 1m39.443s + 1.235
19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham 1m40.207s + 1.999
20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham 1m40.333s + 2.125
21. Charles Pic Marussia 1m41.317s + 3.109
22. Timo Glock Marussia 1m41.371s + 3.163
23. Pedro de la Rosa HRT 1m42.881s + 4.673
24. Narain Karthikeyan HRT no time

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The perfect result would be Alonso colliding with Vettel into turn 1 and Hamilton winning so that we can have 3 or 4 drivers in with a good chance to make it all the more exciting.


Why is there so much emphasis here and in other media about Vettel having ‘lost’ this pole? Any chance Mark was just better on the day? Not bad for a number two driver… now bring it on home!


To be clear the emphasis here is that Webber beat Vettel to the pole.

Vettel dropped the script because he had been the pace setter up to that point


James, How much do you think that missing FP1 most weekends has compromised Bruno Senna this year?


A bit, certainly


Turkey 2010!


I was definitely surprised to see that a whole bunch of drivers have been allowed to get away with setting their fastest laps under yellow flag conditions. I’m pretty certain that’s against the rules.


I kind of learned to live with the fact that successful German F1 drivers are just not liked very much by “true” F1 fans, for whatever reason. But after reading many comments on f1 websites I’m amazed how much hate is really there. Why is it so hard to understand that Vettel is disappointed to not have gotten pole?

If you were a driver, with your current live soley focussed on being the best driver in the world and basically have set the pace the entire weekend, wouldn’t you too be upset, to get beat when it mattered?

You would also think that your personal pit crew has a much better bearing on what the other cars in your proximity do, i.e. Massa going for another lap or going into the pits. So if that important piece of information was not given to you and you had to react to an unforseen situation while trying to squeeze out a perfect lap, wouldn’t you ask your engineer as well, why he didn’t tell you?

I really don’t like how much emphasis the media and fans take out of a single broadcasted radio transmission. And how they think it tells them the “real” character of Sebastian Vettel, who can’t drive but just got lucky all his live to sit in the best car and now he is spoiled.

They are calling for honesty on one side, but take it the wrong way when a driver shows some real human emotions.

I think Seb was in his right to ask the question and it explained the situation, while Massa didn’t do anything wrong and therefore Vettel didn’t want to blame him during the interview. He also had all the reasons to be dissapointed.

I hope for a good race tomorrow.


Thank you for speaking the truth! I thought I was the only one thinking along these lines…


[mod] It gets easier to like these guys when it becomes clear they are F1 greats – it won’t be long now for Vetel. Also, the German sportsmen are perceived as having high levels of confidence, which tends to add to these feelings a bit. Putting your finger up denoting number one will also be seen as arrogant by some people, which also adds to it. I notice Alonso is always saying how great LH is – you can bet he’s trying to wind Vetel up (his main threat really). It’s all good fun really!

[Don’t use language that you used in your first paragraph here again, please – Mod]


Vettel clearly did want to blame Massa in the interview, though. That’s the point.


Hi Emanuel,

I agree entirely. The Australian TV hosts (we get UK Sky for the commentary) somehow managed to turn Massa in to “Mark’s lap”. Probably patriotic paranoia.


Sad to see the McLarens handling so badly. It is hard to see how they wouldn’t use tyres poorly in the race.

It is at times like this that we see Lewis value, why? He is now locked out of technical discussions and set up direction at McLaren due to contract obligations, and suddenly McLarens set up has gone south. Last race was bad, this one looks much worse.


The McLaren is handling well right now according to JB.


Beyond locking brakes, I didn’t see too much wrong. Button said he felt he had the fastest race car from the Friday runs after qualifying.

Frank Dernie, who James has featured a bit on this site, has indicated that drivers make pretty bad race engineers. There are drivers who give good feedback and those that don’t. There are drivers that can driver around problems and those that can’t.

The only real criticism I’ve heard of Lewis in terms of setup was that he would tend to drive around problems rather than necessarily force the team to fix them. I haven’t seen it suggested that he gives inconsistent feedback.

Paddy Lowe on Autosport suggested the big change is a whole suite of developments by Red Bull working, not just the extra DRS system.

At Suzuka there appeared to be something stuck in Hamilton’s car from qualifying until lap 24 of the race. Hamilton said on that lap he heard a clunk from the back of the car and suddenly the car lost its understeer characteristic from qualifying and his lap times improved and became similar to Button’s.




Alonso can win this race. I hope he does. But first, the race start is even more important.

Somehow I find the yellow flags quite interesting during qualifying. They sure can ruin your day. The last thing you need on Q3 is a yellow flag…period. Out of interest, what if Massa brings a yellow flag on Q3 just after Alonso posts the fastest time and with no time to do another hot lap? wouldn’t this be interesting and prompts the rule to be revised? Just a thought….



It is only a small variation on Monaco 2006 and Singapore 2008.

With 10 minutes for Q3, there would be time for another run. To rules include tyre management in the equation, so only doing one run at the end is a risk. A big crash would bring out a red flag. Drivers might not have sufficient tyres to mount a challenge though.


I cannot remember reading any prior F1 coverage where so many World class drivers at the sharp end of the grid readily admitted to making “several small mistakes”, “a small mistake”, “a large mistake”, “I spun a week ago” or being “confused” on their quali efforts…

how refreshing!!

these guys prove their hero worship Superman status event after event. but IMHO, it is so good for the sport for everyone to see they are in fact human!

I am loving the Korean GP so far…


Good point, I like this too. I think Valentino Rossi started this off in MotoGP!


James, apparently RB are using a ‘more reliable quality’ 2011 spec M Marelli alternator. Would that be the case also for Lotus?


*shut the gates*


I can see a strong possibility of another 1st corner incident quite frankly. The track being so dusty off line and Fernando will be keen to get round Seb and Mark will hold up Lewis into the first corner.. I really hope Kimi can weave through.. It might change the whole nature of the race. Otherwise if Seb gets in front early -It’s shut the race and another boring race with Red Bull with one hand on the trophies!!

Looks like lotus have found about 3/10s so far but they still need another 5/10 of a sec to be asking questions of Red Bull or Mclaren but its promising for the remaining few races. I just can’t help but think where they would be if they got started working on their DDRS earlier as well as the Coander exhausts.- which will need another weekend or two to optimise !


Learn to see how Seb drives Elie, he’s fascinating to watch, every curb, every lap the same meticulous precision. I know you’re a Kimi fan (same like me) and it’s probably because of his god-talent on the racetrack, but I’ve come to appreciate the way Seb drives during Kimi’s 2 year absense…


Brad he’s good no two ways but a good car lets you do that (Kimis words) and evidence of this is Mark being quite competitive with him. Just watched the race and he really killed the fronts on the kerbs- so no I definitely would not say he’s super smooth..maybe it’s because I was huge Prost fan- that is the definition of precision driving! As for Kimi he is still the smartest out there. It was awesome watching him & Hamilton race today ! – for me they are the best racers.


Improvements seem to have come as much from set-up work over the weekend as from the coanda, which shows it always pays to go back to the basics in going forward. The upshot is Kimi is happy [happier…]


Great to see RIC yet again outshine VER even with a broken car!


Although Vergne is leading the points. Ricciardo has had the better season from mind. Qualifying 6th in Bahrain and defending successfully against Schumacher. Would be in front if it wasn’t for the fuel pick up problem on the last lap in Monza. He should retain the seat for 2013.


With a number of drivers setting their best times in Q2 while there was a yellow flag for Ricciado, I having been waiting to hear what penalties are to be applied. None seem forthcoming! We had similar at the last race with Raikkonen going off. As a marshal, I am particularly concerned about safety and that drivers should adher to the regulations by reducing their speed for the duration of a yellow flag; a “lift” resulting in the loss of mere fractions of a second is not enough! The whole object of reducing speed is to bring the cars under closer control rather than remaining “on the edge”. One thing that makes it worse is that the drivers are focussing their concentation on minimising the amount of time they lose from lifting rather that ensuring safety of everyone concerned; the stricken driver, marshals etc. F1 is supposed to be the pinnacle of motorsport and should be setting an example to others. I’ve hunted through various regulations to find a definition of how much drivers should reduce speed but can find nothing. Perhaps there is no specific definition, in which case there should be. Have we got to wait for someone to get killed or injured before this regulation gets enforced properly?

Areyoux Seriouse

I tend to agree with most of it.

I just read Button’s comments on ESPN, “…if you don’t lift and you qualify through to Q3 and you put it on pole you might lose five places with a penalty but you’re still sixth instead of 11th.”

Those things were clear already in 2006, when the knock out system was first introduced. It is 2012 now. Why Button didn’t roar earlier and ask for changes? He should remember the qualifying at Suzuka, in 2009…

I would like to see the drivers be more interested, more vocal in what they are doing, not wait for stewards to mess up and decide races or even championships.

Perhaps the teams accept soccer like referees because they bring more attention, fuzz and clicks to the “sport”?

For me, these inconsistent penalties seem just crazy. Year after year we see green light for some wrongdoings and full red for the same offence a fortnight later. At the same time, we see number of regulation changes every season, but how many of them are aimed to bring credibility back to the sport?


Excellent point. Ant and Johnny Herbert on sky said same.

Personally wish they’d reset the clock, i.e., so yellow flag time does not count, make quali less a lottery and help lessen the very risk you point out.


Reset the clock to zero? Or just pause it when the flags come out? The later won’t help because you still need time for an out lap. And luck will still come into it, unless you want to give a new set of tires to anybody who aborted a lap under yellows?


The yellow flags apply only to the section of the tracked where they are waved, not to the entire track. Therefore, those who did their fastest laps under the yellows would have gone faster in all track sections except the affected one.


I’d like to understand the rule about yellow flags and not gaining time. Reading Jenson’s comments after qualy, it seems that in his last run in Q2 he felt that he had to back off lots in the final sector for the yellows because on his first run in Q2 he’d made a mistake there and he couldn’t be quicker than that.

Is that really true ? Couldn’t he have been just under his best run thru there in Q1 ? Or even his best run thru there all weekend ? What’s does the rule actually say ? Because if it was only his previous run in Q2 which counted as a benchmark, that doesn’t seem fair. And what would the benchmark be if he hadn’t done a first run ? Or indeed if this was Q1 ?


Drivers are entitled to make excuses, which Jenson has done. But drivers in slower cars managed to extract more from other sections of the track not affected by the yellows, but Jebson didn’t.

I don’t think the yellows affected his outcome, the McLaren handled very wretchedly anyway.


It will be interesting between Vettel & Webber, because I don’t think Red Bull have been in this situation before.

In 2010 they were both fighting for WDC until the end, but so did Alonso and Hamilton. With three races to go Webber was closer to WDC, but Vettel wasn’t ruled out yet (and to be honest, Red Bull seemed to prefer Vettel to be crowned WDC)

In 2011 Vettel was out of reach not only to Webber, but to everybody, so it didn’t really matter.

This year (realistically) there only Vettel, Alonso and maybe Hamilton left for the WDC. And with Webber ahead, it’s interesting what they will do. I don’t remember Webber giving way to Vettel or vice versa (as opposed to Alonso/Massa, Raikkonen/Massa, Raikkonen/Grosjean …)

As for the race, it doesn’t look like Red Bull will be “away and over the hills”…


Turkey 2010. And remember what happened…


James, is starting on the clean side a real advantage in Yeongam?


Pirelli say the race can be done on one stop. Don’t know how many teams will go for that option. Most might start with a two stop strategy, especially the top 10,and depending on how the tires hold and if there is a safety car might switch to a one stopper.

Without putting a curse on them hopefully, Ferrari looked mighty on friday during race simulation unless they were running much much lighter than Red Bull, Mclaren and Lotus. The only driver close to either Ferrari driver was Button who will be starting from 11th.

Expecting Hamilton to pass Vettel off the line. With little or no racing all year on this track, it is probably too dirty off-line.

Alonso starting from the dirty side like Suzuka with Kimi next to him on the cleaner side. Should be fun 🙂 If Alonso makes it safely out of turn 1, he will most likely end up on the podium come the end of the race.


JB for sure will try.


Hi James,

Should those who improved times in Q2 during Ricciardo’s gearbox issue under yellow flags be penalised.


I was impressed with Vettel in post-race interviews:

“I don’t want to blame Massa but here’s a list of reasons that it was his fault that I didn’t get pole…”


Vettel was coping the blame for the same thing last week. It was fair game for Ferrari to stick the boot in then…what changed this week?


Ferrari didn’t lodge a complaint, and I certainly didn’t hear them say “WE don’t want to blame Vettel but here’s why YOU should”


I believe they (RB) will react based on Alonso’s race and threat. If Alonso has a bad race; falls down the positions or a DNF then I dont see the need for team orders. However if Alonso remains 4th or even gains 3rd and Vettel and Webber are close then Vettel should be allowed to pass.

Regarding Senna i think he is gone for sure. Bottas looks more promising. EJ on the BBC reckoned Senna going to HRT but even that is generous in my opinion, not at all impressed by Senna.


With regards to Red Bull team orders i reckon they will not go in with any from the start bur rather react to Alonso’s position/threat. If Alonso takes third but along way behind the 2RBs then i think it makes sense to let Vettel pass Webber. However if Alonso has a problem and falls back or gets a DNF they will let the race run its course with no orders.

An aside i think Senna is gone for sure, EJ on BBC speculated him going to HRT and i think even that is generous. Not a single impressive performance from him.


So if Massa was actually holding up Vettel, will Massa get a penalty?


This could be one of the most important races because potentialy the batton could change hand here for the lead and tension and emotions will be running very high.

Hamilton doesn’t have anything to lose and he will go for it. It is Vettel who has a lot to lose especially starting from second on the dirty side of the grid.

The race pacce of the Red Bull is not good. It will be the Ferraris and the McLarens who will do well here. Button will start on the soft tyres and will be the man to watch.

It will be interesting to see what will happen if Massa overtakes Alonso at the start.


He’ll Let him straight passed again…


Alonso hasn’t lost a single position at the end of first laps for all the season. Why should it happen at one of the tracks with the closest first corner to the start grid?


Under race simulation, the Red Bulls were fastest in free practice, followed closely by Jenson Button.


Why would that be interesting? Massa would give it back in a flash.


I agree, if Button has a good first lap & can get past the Mercs & Force India he could be on for a strong result.



You say red bull has superior race pace over the rest, Jenson said he thought he had the best pace over long runs, do you know what Hamiltons pace was like?

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