Korean GP - Saturday - Qualifying Session Report
Sebastian Vettel earned the 42nd pole position of his F1 career in Korea on Saturday afternoon. He clocked a 1:37.202 in his Red Bull. Lewis Hamilton qualified second with a time of 1:37.420 in his Mercedes. Mark Webber was third fastest with a lap of 1:37.464 in his Red Bull.
Sauber driver Esteban Gutierrez was the first driver to venture out as the 20-minute Q1 began. He was on Pirelli's medium compound tires. He clocked the first time as well, a 1:41.058.
The ambient temperature at the start of the one-hour session was 77 degrees Fahrenheit (25 degrees Celsius), and the track temperature was 91 degrees Fahrenheit (33 degrees Celsius.)
6 minutes into the session, Jenson Button turned a 1:40.169 in his McLaren shod with the medium compound rubber. But Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg soon beat that with a 1:39.415. Lewis Hamilton slotted into second with a time of 1:39.737 in his Mercedes.
9 minutes into the session, Fernando Alonso took over second after setting a 1:39.504 in his Ferrari.
10 minutes into the session, Hamilton topped the times with a 1:38.574. Sebastian Vettel, who had been quickest in FP3, was just heading out for his first run as was his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.
13 minutes into the session, Gutierrez turned a 1:38.725 on the super soft Pirellis, which moved him up to second spot. Vettel, on mediums, turned a 1:39.199 to move into third. Webber, also on mediums, topped that with a 1:39.138.
With 2 minutes remaining in the session, Romain Grosjean clocked his first time of the session, a 1:39.176, which put his Lotus seventh on the list.
With less than 2 minutes remaining in the session, Hulkenberg, his Sauber on super softs, went to the top with a 1:38.427. Rosberg, also on super softs, beat that with a 1:38.418. Then Kimi Raikkonen turned a 1:38.341 in his Lotus.
The top 10 at the end of Q1 were: Raikkonen, Rosberg, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso), Hamilton, Vettel, Gutierrez, Jenson Button (McLaren) and Felipe Massa (Ferrari.)
Webber, who had not switched to the super softs, was 15th and thus just made the cut into Q2, as did Paul di Resta (Force India) who had traffic on his lap and scraped in at the 16th spot.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q1 were: Williams teammates Valterri Bottas and Pastor Maldonado. Caterham teammates Charles Pic and Guido van der Garde, and Marussia teammates Jules Bianchi and Max Chilton.
Nobody headed out as the green lights came on to start the 15 minute session.
12 minutes into the session, Ricciardo became the first. He was on the red side-walled Pirelli super softs. Everybody else was on used super softs as well.
With 8 minutes remaining in the session, Raikkonen set the fast time of 1:39.236, but Alonso beat that with a 1:38.504 and Hamilton beat that with a 1:37.824.
With 6 minutes remaining in the session, the top 6 were: Hamilton, Rosberg, Alonso, Gutierrez, Massa and Button.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, Webber completed his first run and clocked a 1:37.840 which put him second. Moments later Vettel finished his first flying lap and went to the top with a 1:37.569.
A number of drivers fitted new sets of super softs for their final Q2 attempt. But they could not beat the times of Vettel, Hamilton and Webber who held the top three spots
The top 10 at the end of Q2 were: Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Hulkenberg, Alonso, Rosberg, Grosjean, Raikkonen, Massa and Gutierrez.
The six drivers eliminated at the end of Q2 were: Gutierrez, Sergio Perez (McLaren), Button, Ricciardo, Adrian Sutil (Force India), di Resta and Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso.)
And so it was on to the final session that would set the top 10 grid places. Wherever Webber qualified, he would move back 10 places because of his penalty for hitching a ride in Alonso's Ferrari in Singapore.
Webber got the ball rolling. Rosberg followed him out.
Everybody was on the super soft Pirellis.
Webber set the bar at 1:37.464 which beat Rosberg's 1:37.679. Hamilton grabbed second with a 1:37.508, and then Vettel beat them all with a 1:37.202.
So the order was now Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Grosjean and Rosberg. The other five drivers had not made a first run yet with four minutes to go.
With 3 minutes remaining in the session, everybody was in the pits. Then, one by one, the drivers headed out for one final go. It was a bit of an anticlimax, however. Webber could not go faster and dropped to third as Hamilton improved to a 1:37.420.
Grosjean, Rosberg, Alonso, Massa, Hulkenberg, Gutierrez and Raikkonen rounded out the top 10.