Red Bull’s Mark Webber will be leading the pack when the FIA Formula One 2012 Korean Grand Prix takes place tomorrow, after he crossed the line in the latter stages of Q3 and pipped his team mate, Sebastian Vettel to the pole position spot. Vettel missed out on achieving back-to- back pole positions but his second place start for tomorrow’s Korean Grand Prix, means that the team have locked out the front row of the grid for the second race in a row this season.
It was a tight session for all of us.
Last year’s pole sitter, McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton, failed to catch the charging Red Bulls ahead of him and could only do enough to qualify in third place. The Englishman’s team mate and fellow countryman, Jenson Button was the surprise of the day as he failed to make it through to Q3. The 2009 World Champion narrowly missed out on the top 10 shootout as the chequered flag fell at the end of Q2 and he will have to work his way through the field from 11th place on the grid.
After being the front man momentarily in Q2, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso could not match the pace of his closest Championship rivals once into Q3. The current leader in the hunt for the Driver’s title will be just behind his competitors as he will start the race from fourth place. Alonso’s Brazilian team mate, Felipe Massa had a solid finish to his qualifying session and will line up in sixth place for the grand prix start tomorrow.
Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg will be ahead of the other Nico in the field as the German qualified in eighth place. Hulkenberg’s fellow countryman may have lost out in the battle of the Nico’s but did beat his Mercedes team mate to ninth place.
Rosberg’s team mate, Michael Schumacher was hanging on by a thread as the first part of qualifying was ticking down on the clock. The seven time World Champion who recently announced that he will be retiring from the sport at the end of the season, nearly found himself falling at the first hurdle towards the end of Q1.
Initially, Schumacher was running in 18th place but completed a final flying lap to make it into Q2 in eighth place. During the second part of qualifying there were some shocks as the likes of Button and several midfield runners missed out on the top 10 shootout but this meant there was a space for Schumacher who got through to Q3. The German will round off the top 10 to start the race just behind his team mate.
Hulkenberg’s Scottish team mate, Paul Di Resta was also among those who dropped out at the end of Q2. At the time of Di Resta’s final flying lap there was drama on the track when Toro Rosso’s Daniel Ricciardo found himself off the Yeongam circuit and a yellow flag situation occurred. The Australian reportedly had a gearbox problem with his car. This incident also meant that the drivers completing their flying laps had to slow when passing the yellow flag situation. As a consequence of this Di Resta missed out on a place in the top 10 and will start from 14th position ahead of Williams driver Pastor Maldonado. Ricciardo’s gearbox issues meant that he also made an early exit from qualifying as Q2 came to a close and he will begin from 16th place.
Ricciardo and his French team mate, Jean-Eric Vergne had a narrow escape at the end of Q1 and remarkably made it through to Q2. Unfortunately the pair failed to make the grade and get to the final stage of qualifying though. Vergne lost out on the higher grid position to his team mate and will start in front of Williams driver, Bruno Senna who had to settle for 18th place for the race tomorrow.
Where the remaining back markers were concerned, in another in team battle Marussia’s Charles Pic pipped his German team mate, Timo Glock and qualified in 21st place just ahead of him. Pic does face a grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change and once this is applied the Frenchman is likely to drop down the field.
Hispania Racing’s Pedro de la Rosa may be the sole car racing for the team tomorrow if the stewards decide not to allow Narain Karthikeyan to participate. The Indian driver failed to set a time after he took to the track at the beginning of Q1 and ended up coming off it as he lost the use of his brakes. It was reported that the front right brake disc had broken on his car which led to his early exit.
As a consequence of the incident, Karthikeyan failed to qualifying within the 107% required time and will have to wait and see whether the stewards will let him race or not. Until there is confirmation from the stewards on this Karthikeyan lines up in 24th place as it currently stands.
Despite Webber leading from the front ahead of his Championship rivals, it is certain that his team mate, Vettel will also be looking for a race win as he homes in on Alonso’s current hold on the top spot in the Drivers’ Championship by just four points.
Alonso is likely to be equally as keen to pick up a good result as he prevents Vettel from taking the lead from his grasp and Hamilton, will start the race in the middle of this battle as Alonso comes through the field behind him to hunt down Vettel, who will be ahead at the front alongside pole sitter Webber. With so much at stake for the top Championship contenders at the front of the field, there is a possibility that there could be carnage in the race as they all compete against each other and have the race victory in their sights.