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GP Week : Issue 191
Qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix began with a certain sense of inevitability – after sebastian Vettel’s strong showing in FP3, the general belief was that Red Bull would be dominant once again. Esteban Gutierrez was the first to set a timed lap in the first stage of qualifying, but the Mexican was soon outshone by more experienced drivers from the bigger teams. As has been the case on most Saturdays in recent memory, Red Bull were the last team to send their drivers out on track in Q1 – unconcerned about being knocked out, saving tyres for Sunday is the team’s qualifying strategy. Mercedes and Ferrari were strong early on, while Jenson Button delivered a decent showing for McLaren, but once Vettel was unleashed from the garage there was little anyone could do but bow to the inevitable. Mark Webber claimed P3 on his first timed lap; the Australian needed as strong a qualifying session as possible to make up for the ten-place grid penalty carried over from Singapore. Despite being safe near the top of the grid, Vettel elected to run again in Q1, crossing the line in P2 and displacing Gutierrez, who had delivered an impressive 1m38.725s lap. After an unusual flurry of runs on the supersofts during Q1, all eyes were on the Q2 strategy calls when the pit lane opened. And the red runs continued, thanks in part to the high deg levels that make the supersofts the weaker option during Sunday’s race. Ferrari were early pacesetters, while Gutierrez and Nico Hulkenberg continued Sauber’s run of form. Mercedes had the top slots on the timesheets when the session was two-thirds complete, but it was at that point that the Red Bull pair started their first timed laps. Force India struggled for much of Q1, and Q2 was no different, with both drivers spending the session languishing in the dropout zone with the Toro Rosso pair. Jean-Eric Vergne went out for only one timed effort, a risky strategy that left the Frenchman in P16 when the chequered flag fell. With the ants marching two by two all afternoon, it was the driver pairings from Red Bull, Ferrari, Mercedes, Lotus, and Sauber who were left to fight it out in Q3. Breaking with tradition, Vettel and Webber were early out of the pits. Hamilton and Rosberg set early laps, but couldn’t best Webber’s first effort of a 1m37.464s, while Vettel went straight to the top with a 1m37.202s. With two minutes remaining, all 10 drivers were out on track, nine of them doing their futile best to fight off the inevitable. An inevitability it proved to be, with Vettel able to abort his second run, delivering another commanding performance to secure pole. On the following pages, Trent Price takes a closer look at the incidents that shaped the 2013 Korean Grand Prix, from the Lotus battle, the second Safety Car snafu and beyond... QUALIFYING 1. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 1m37.202s 2. Lewis Hamilton (Mercedes) 1m37.420s 3. Romain Grosjean (Lotus) 1m37.531s 4. Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) 1m37.679s 5. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 1m38.038s 6. Felipe Massa (Ferrari) 1m38.223s 7. Nico Hulkenberg (Sauber) 1m38.237s 8. Esteban Gutierrez (Sauber) 1m38.405s 9. Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus) 1m38.822s 10. Sergio Perez (McLaren) 1m38.362s 11. Jenson Button (McLaren) 1m38.365s 12. Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) 1m38.417s 13. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1m37.464s* 14. Adrian Sutil (Force India) 1m38.431s 15. Paul di Resta (Force India) 1m38.718s 16. J-E Vergne (Toro Rosso) 1m383.781s 17. Valtteri Bottas (Williams) 1m39.470s 18. Pastor Maldonado (Williams) 1m39.987s 19. Charles Pic (Caterham) 1m40.864s 20. Giedo vd Garde (Caterham) 1m40.871s 21. Max Chilton (Marussia) 1m41.322s 22. Jules Bianchi (Marussia) 1m41.169s** ONE IS ENOUGH, AGAIN THE GRId * Mark Webber qualified in P3, but started from P13 thanks to a 10-place grid penalty incurred for collecting his third reprimand of the season in Singapore. ** Jules Bianchi qualified in P21, but started from P22 thanks to a 3-place grid penalty incurred for impeding Paul di Resta in qualifying. HAPPY CHAPS! 30 GPWEEK.com // 30 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> KOREA