Hamilton breaks Red Bull’s pole position streak in Korea

For the first time since the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, a Red Bull will not start from pole position. Today, it was Lewis Hamilton who took top spot for the Korean Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver was on the pace all weekend, but his teammate was unable to challenge for pole, instead being split for 3rd by Sebastian Vettel. Mark Webber was disappointingly slow in Q3, finishing 4th, with the off-pace Ferraris 5th and 6th. Here is what happened:

Q1

The Renaults briefly led Q1, before a flurry of cars exited the pits. Strangely enough, both Red Bull cars decided to make their first runs on the super-soft tyres.

Lewis Hamilton soon went top with a 1:38.278, with Jenson Button half a second off his teammate. Despite being on faster tyres, both Red Bulls were unusually slow, lapping in the 1:39s.

Lewis went another 7 tenths faster the next lap, with Jenson again off the pace. The Williams drivers, as well as Vitantonio Liuzzi, only left the pits with 4 minutes to go. Although he was using the super-soft compound, Pastor Maldonado could only go 16th.

Rubens Barrichello abandoned his final run, allowing Maldonado to take his teammate out of Q1. Daniel Ricciardo failed to set a time in this session, with an apparent technical problem with the HRT.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Rubens Barrichello – 1:39.538

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:40.522

20) Jarno Trulli – 1:41.101

21) Timo Glock – 1:42.091

22) Jerome D’Ambrosi – 1:43.483

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi – 1:43.758

24) Daniel Ricciardo – No time

Q2

Again, Hamilton comprehensively led Button in the early stages of the session, with Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso off the pace of McLaren. A little twitch from Vettel’s car on his first run slipped him to 7 tenths off Hamilton.

Michael Schumacher’s first run put him only into 9th place. Felipe Massa was forced to use another set of super-softs to survive the session.

Jaime Alguersuari and Paul di Resta briefly made it into 10th place, with the Scot staying there as the chequered flag fell. This left Michael Schumacher stranded down in 12th position for the race.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:38.315

12) Michael Schumacher – 1:38.354

13) Sebastien Buemi – 1:38.508

14) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:38.775

15) Bruno Senna – 1:38.791

16) Pastor Maldonado – 1:39.189

17) Sergio Perez – 1:39.443

Q3

Pole favourite Lewis Hamilton was first out, setting a 1:36.130. The Ferraris were well off the pace, with Button still nearly half a second off his teammate. Sebastian Vettel was slower than Hamilton by only 0.03 seconds after his first run.

A 1:35.820 improved Hamilton’s benchmark, with Button 0.3 seconds off. Mark Webber abandoned his final run after a dismal first sector, a move copied by Paul di Resta.

While the Ferraris failed to make any impact on the front runners, Vettel was on a charge to knock Hamilton off top spot. However, for the first time this year, the Red Bull car will not start on pole position, as Sebastian could only get within 2 tenths of the McLaren.

With that, Lewis will start on pole tomorrow, with Vettel preventing a McLaren front row lockout. Webber will be 4th, ahead of the two Ferraris. Nico Rosberg was 7th, with Vitaly Petrov 8th. Neither Force India car set a time in Q3.

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