#F1 Qualifying Review: #KoreanGP Qualifying – Vettel eases to his 42nd pole

Brought to you by TheJudge13 contributor John Myburgh

Sebastian Vettel

The battle for pole was expected to be between Vettel and Hamilton and so it was. The young German took his 42nd career pole, his 5th consecutive one, in a time of 1m37.202. He was followed by Hamilton in a time of 1m37.420 and Webber in 1m37.464.

Webber will receive a 10 place grid penalty courtesy of his taxi ride in Singapore so will start in thirteenth. Another driver out of place is Raikkonen who could only qualify in 10th but as we know from Dr Beck’s race pace analysis, he seem to have the best underlying race pace.


With the threat of a typhoon hitting the Korean qualifying and race subsiding drivers were met with a warm track of 33°C and an air temperature of of 25°C.

Spectators did not have to wait long for the first car to hit the track at the start of qualifying as Esteban Gutierrez made his way onto the track almost immediately setting the first timed lap at 1m41.058. This was bettered by Hulkenberg and Button, the latter fastest with a time of 1m40.169.

With most cars on track the Mercedes lead the way early on in qualifying, Rosberg leading from Hamilton before Alonso spoiled the party and slotted in between the two Mercedes drivers. On his second timed run Hamilton put a better lap together to go fastest in 1m28.574.

With 6min to go Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel started his first timed lap but only managed 3rd, behind Hamilton and a very fast, and impressive Guttierrez. Webber the dully claimed 3rd from his team mate on his first timed lap however both Red Bull drivers had slight lockups on their laps. Vettel improved to 2nd on his next timed run, 0.147s behind Hamilton.

As the flag dropped Raikkonen managed to go fastest followed by Rosberg and Hulkenberg. The casualties from this session was Bottas (Williams), Maldonado (Williams), Pic (Caterham), Van der Garde (Caterham), Bianchi (Marussia) and Chilton (Marrusia). Di Resta just scraped through in 16th after having his flying lap interrupted by Bianchi and as can be expected from the Scott, he was very vocal on the radio.

Interestingly, having Raikkonen finishing the session fastest it was the first time in 19 races where the session was not lead by either Hamilton or Vettel.


Track and air temperature was still at 33°C and 25°C but the track was quiet for the first 3min of the qualifying session. Ricciardo (Torro Rosso) then lead the field onto the track.  Most drivers opted to go out on the options and Hamilton was the first to go below 1m38 when he set a time of 1m37.824.

With 4 min left the Mercedes duo of Hamilton and Rosberg were leading the field comfortably before Webber slotted in between the two. With Webber’s 10 place grid penalty looming the Red Bull driver was trying to minimise his running in qualifying to allow him to save tyres for the race.

Sebastian Vettel then went fastest doing a lap of 1m36.569, pushing Hamilton down. With 1 minute to go the top four (Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Rosberg) sat in the pits , feeling comfortable they will get through to Q3.

With the track improving rapidly and times tumbling Hulkenberg managed to slot into fourth followed by Alonso and Rosberg 6th. Lotus took up 7th and 8th with Grosjean leading Raikkonen but the big story of Q2 was that Gutierrez again managed to get into Q3 while the McLarens of Perez and Button could only manage 11th and 12th.

Button complained that he was held up by the Lotus car of Raikkonen. Ironically he let Raikkonen past before he started his flaying lap and that probably cost him a place in the top 10 shootout.

Joining the two McLaren drivers in the drop was Ricciardo, Sutil, Di Resta and Vergne.


Q3 was shaping up to be a fight between Vettel and Hamilton for pole. Track temperature had gone up to 34°C and air temperature 26°C.

Surprisingly the Red Bulls joined the track almost immediately and Webber managed to go fastest in a time of 1m37.464 but was soon beaten by his team mate in 1m37.202. Hamilton slotted into third followed by Grosjean and then Rosberg. With two and a half minutes left all ten cars were on track. Vettel was the last one to leave the pits in an attempt to get the best track condition.

Rosberg was the first one to cross the time after the flag dropped however did not manage to improve his time. Webber saw he was not going to beat Vettel and dived into the pits. This opened the door for Hamilton to take a slot on the front row of the grid pushing Webber to third.

Grosjean slotted into fourth with the Ferraris of Alonso and Massa taking up 6th and 7th. Hulkenberg lead his Sauber teammate Gutierrez and Raikkonen rounded off the top 10.

Tomorrow’s race will be interesting race. We will have two cars charging from the rear that should really have started in the top 4, Raikkonen and Webber. There is also a possibility of rain tomorrow and strong winds so make sure you watch the race!

Paul Hembery © PirelliPirelli’s motorsport director Paul Hembery said:We’re now seeing an average of about 0.8 seconds per lap difference in terms of lap time between the two compounds, which is considerably less than Singapore. This is set to form the platform for some interesting strategies during the race, but it also means that more of the frontrunners were able to get through Q1 without having to put on the supersoft compound.

Grip levels improved as each session went on, so most drivers tried to set their best times in the closing seconds. We saw different strategies at work throughout qualifying, with a variety of approaches being taken in Q3 as well, although we would expect most drivers to stop twice under normal race circumstances. The big question mark is the weather: rain showers have been predicted for tonight and tomorrow morning.

While the race itself should remain dry, temperatures during the afternoon are expected to be cooler than what we have seen so far, although at least it looks like we’ve avoided the typhoon!

The Pirelli mystery strategy predictor:

Two stops are theoretically the quickest way to complete the 55-lap Korean Grand Prix. The fastest strategy on paper is start on supersoft, change to supersoft again on lap 20 and then change to the medium on lap 40.

Realistically though, most cars are likely to adopt the following strategy: start on the supersoft, change to the medium on lap 20, then change to the medium again on lap 38.

The best three-stop strategy – for those wanting to try something different – is to start on the supersoft, change for supersoft again on lap 19, supersoft once more on lap 34, and finally medium on lap 47.

With Webber’s penalty coming into effect the final qualifying positions look like this:

Updated: Jules Bianchi gets a 3 place grid penalty for blocking Di Resta so he starts last. Is this a fair penalty as both were on a hot lap?

Driver Constructor Time
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull  1m37.202
2. Lewis Hamilton Mercedes  1m37.420
3. Romain Grosjean Lotus  1m37.531
4. Nico Rosberg Mercedes  1m37.679
5. Fernando Alonso Ferrari  1m38.038
6. Felipe Massa Ferrari  1m38.223
7. Nico Hulkenberg Sauber  1m38.237
8. Esteban Gutierrez Sauber  1m38.405
9. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus  1m38.822
10. Sergio Perez McLaren  1m38.181
11. Jenson Button McLaren  1m38.362
12. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso  1m38.417
13. Mark Webber Red Bull  1m37.464
14. Adrian Sutil Force India  1m38.431
15. Paul di Resta Force India  1m38.718
16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso  1m38.781
17. Valtteri Bottas Williams  1m39.470
18. Pastor Maldonado Williams  1m39.987
19. Charles Pic Caterham  1m40.864
20. Giedo van der Garde Caterham  1m40.871
21. Max Chilton Marussia  1m41.322
22. Jules Bianchi Marussia  1m41.169

18 responses to “#F1 Qualifying Review: #KoreanGP Qualifying – Vettel eases to his 42nd pole

  1. Amusing seeing the two Merc’s blocking each other. Had I been the chief steward I would have given each of them a 10 spot grid penalty. And Hamilton one extra place for every time he used the word “massive”.

    • Yep. Little doubt Fred’s going to need all the help he can get, so that would’ve been a good leg up.

  2. Just written this on another F1 site, but thought that I’m most likely to get more considered feed back on my rage here, so I’m plagiarizing myself – sorry Judge if that contravenes some internet rules, but I NEED TO VENT! Thanks 😉

    Hembery has been acting rather shocked as to the claims from Alonso that his tyres were shot to bits after half a lap on Yeongnam


    Aaah much better now – all I have to do is force my eyes open for the inevitable 55 laps lead from the front and gently sob into my red pocket hankerchief for the rest of the year..

    • Sorry Paul Hembery, but I think if you ask “the soon-to-be four-times champion how to get the best from the same tyres” his answer would run along the following lines – “Get your team to lobby the FIA, FOM and tyre supplier to change the specification of the tyre to something that your car was designed around, just like we did.”

      Not trying to bash Vettel, who I enjoy watching in a kind of –Schumacher destroy the opposition in a car totally designed around my strengths 2000-2004 style– I just think that changing the rules halfway through a season just to suit one team under a false sentiment of safety, and then for Hembery to turn round and make out that he doesnt understand the reasons kind of rich.

      I cant imagine how much of a farce 2005 would have been, for example, if the FIA had backed a return to tyre changes mid-season, and then Schumacher had have romped away to his 8th crown, which I think is the way Vettel is going to win this one.

      • The tyres were not changed because of Red Bull. When are you tifosi finally going to get your heads around that? Ask Alonso how it felt being showered by tyre debris at 300kph at Silverstone. THAT’s why the tyres were changed. Bloody norah! If that’s not selective amnesia, what is?

  3. “The tyres were not changed because of Red Bull.”

    True. They were changed because of Red Bull AND Merc.

    • Cav, only because you repeat your mental diarrhea a hundred times, doesn’t make it true. The tyres were changed, when the last objecting team changed their position – Force India. They cited the Silverstone as the reason to finally agree to it. What part of that statement don’t you understand?

      • Spare me the BS Schoeneberg. Red Bull had been pushing for a return to 2012 spec tyres prior to Monaco. Mercedes from after the first or second race.

        Ferrari, Lotus and Force India designed their cars to work with the 2013 spec tyre. Merc and Red Bull got it wrong.

        The first four races we had three different winners. The next eight races we have two differents teams winning. One of which ran an illegal tyre test and the other got its wish of a return to 2012 spec tyres after Silverstone.

        Nobody is going to argue against safety. When Ferrari, Lotus and Force India agreed to the changes it effectively ended their chances.

        • I think Hembery did ask the question re the tyres before they got changed… Said do you want me to change the tyres so Red Bull can win…

          Fact is, tyres should have been tested properly but because of the comic regulations in F1 that did not happen and tyres threw thread off.

          I feel sorry for Ferrari, Force India and Lotus. They read the rules, looked at tyre specs and came up with cars that worked… Rules change and now they don’t…

          Power of politics eh …

          • I don’t think it’s politics we’re talking here. The original tyres were not fit for the purpose. Have people really forgotten the travesties of China and Monaco, where due to the comedy tyres people deliberately went so slow that Guido van der Gaarde held the fastest lap for 6 laps? Was that the sort of racing y’all wanted to see or was it just ok because of who won and who didn’t?
            Yes Ferrari, Lotus and FI built their cars for the 2013 tyres, but the problem is, they built their cars for FLAWED tyres and it blew up literally in the face of F1 at Silverstone. Alonso could have been killed by all the debris narrowly missing him at Silverstone.

          • I know but Pirelli did what they were asked to do, build tyres that degrade. They could not test them due to regulations.

            Ferrari et al may have built their cars to, as you say, flawed specs, but those were the specs. I’m not saying its right, I’m just saying that RB and Merc built their cars different and due to that had more problems than the others.

            But lets look into something else, what is the solution. We all want tyres where the drivers can push to the limit the whole way dont we? so if that is the case why not say two mandatory pit stops per race, stop when you like but you have to stop. Bolt on any tyres you want but you have to change your tyres in a pit stop. Reduce the pit crew to two guys on the wheels, two jack men and a lollipop man. If you stall your car then the starter dude can come by with his starter.

            The nature of F1 will always have some people building faster cars and running away with the championship (eventually). So I guess we need to take the sport for what it has become now. A showcase.. if you want to watch real racing then GP2 or something else will need to suffice..

            What do your think? 🙂

          • This scheme has been used by DTM with great success. They have to stop twice, but when you do it is your own choosing. F1 could really learn a lesson or twelve from them.

        • Yes, they’ve pushing it. Doesn’t mean they would have gotten what they wanted without Silverstone. So stop being so bloody butthurt and if you adress me by my surname again, you’ll learn what it means to be flamed. Maybe that’s acceptable in the cesspool where you come from – in most of the civilized world it’s considered very rude.

          • “if you adress me by my surname again, you’ll learn what it means to be flamed.”Maybe that’s acceptable in the cesspool where you come from – in most of the civilized world it’s considered very rude.

            Cesspool? If personal attacks are acceptable on this site I see no reason to bother with it anymore.

          • It’s at least the fifth time that you promised to leave, yet you alsways came back. Do we have to beg until you finally keep it?

          • Am I the only one who finds these persistent cavalino/schoenberg dialogues boring, irritating, stupid, and make it a downright waste of time looking at the comments sections…?

            ‘Moderation’ means restraint…
            It also means: self-control; self-discipline; and self-restraint.

            I sometimes wonder what the ‘other 70%’ of readers must think.

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