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Qualifying analysis - stage set for epic Korean battle 23 Oct 2010

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 23 October 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 23 October 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 23 October 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 23 October 2010 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1 VJM03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Saturday, 23 October 2010

All five title challengers have enjoyed strong performances on the demanding Korean circuit, but during qualifying it was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who emerged on pole position. With Mark Webber alongside him on the front row, Red Bull seem to hold the advantage, but Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button aren’t ready to throw in the towel just yet. We take a team-by-team look...

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, 1m 35.585s, P1
Mark Webber, 1m 35.659s, P2

Despite missing time in the morning to conserve his car, Vettel drove a great lap, pushing very hard in the final sector after admitting to excessive caution in the second, to snatch pole from Alonso. Webber preferred the stability of his car after two laps on Bridgestone’s option tyre, and once again just missed out on pole. Hamilton was not alone among their rivals in being blown away, figuratively and literally, by the RB6’s levels of downforce.

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, 1m 35.766s, P3
Felipe Massa, 1m 36.571s, P6

Alonso was philosophical after losing pole and second place to the Red Bulls in the dying moments of qualifying, but as he pointed out that is usually the weakest part of Ferrari’s weekend and he is very optimistic for the race. Once again, Massa lost out in traffic. Having been very quick in Q2, he was bitterly disappointed to start on the dirty side of the grid.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, 1m 36.062s, P4
Jenson Button, 1m 36.731s, P7

Hamilton said his McLaren was so difficult to drive over the bumps that he could barely operate the F-Duct, and gave it his all to take fourth, unfortunately on the dirty side of the grid. Button failed to get his tyres up to optimal temperature, and thus lacked grip, but starts seventh on the clean side.

Mercedes
Nico Rosberg, 1m 36.535s, P5
Michael Schumacher, 1m 36.950s, P9

Mercedes had one of their best runs of the season, as both drivers felt they got the best from their MGP W01s. Neither reported any problems, but Schumacher was lucky to get away with a reprimand for an alleged impeding offence against Barrichello, whom the stewards decided was not on a “fast” lap at the time.

Renault
Robert Kubica, 1m 36.824s, P8
Vitaly Petrov, 1m 37.799s, P15, will start P20

Kubica was blisteringly fast in the morning’s free practice, but changing conditions worked against him in qualifying and he had to be content with eighth as the R30 picked up oversteer. Petrov got away with a spin, but after qualifying 15th drops to 20th because of the five-place grid penalty he earned at the start in Suzuka.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, 1m 36.998s, P10
Nico Hulkenberg, 1m 37.620s, P11

Barrichello was very pleased with the team’s spirit in qualifying, even though he was disappointed that Schumacher escaped a penalty for impeding him, but admitted that he had not been as fast as expected. Hulkenberg just missed out on Q3 after losing the rear end in Turn 12 and having to abort what should have been a quicker lap in Q2.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, 1m 37.643s, P12
Nick Heidfeld, 1m 37.715s, P13

Both drivers felt that they got the best out of their C29s. Kobayashi said his car felt nervous as conditions had changed since free practice, but that it was generally okay. Heidfeld said he’d had a lot of fun and that he was happy with his lap, but that it was still hard to get the tyres working perfectly.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, 1m 37.783s, P14
Tonio Liuzzi, 1m 38.955s, P18, will start P17

Sutil found his car better today than it had been yesterday after adopting Liuzzi’s Friday set-up. He complained about traffic in Q2, but thought that 12th would have been the best he could have hoped for. Liuzzi was very quick in the morning until he picked up a puncture during his run on the soft tyre, and that had an adverse effect on his strategic tyre choice for Q1. The result was massive graining which ruined a potentially good final lap.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari 1m 37.853s, P16, will start P15
Sebastien Buemi, 1m 38.594s P17, will start P16

Alguersuari said he was reasonably satisfied with his performance, but Buemi was very unhappy to be beaten again by the Spaniard and admitted to some small but costly mistakes.

Lotus
Jarno Trulli, 1m 40.521s, P19, will start P18
Heikki Kovalainen, 1m 41.768s, P21

Trulli did a great job after all his woes yesterday and was happy with his 19th place, though he will start on the dirty side after moving up a place because of Petrov’s penalty. Kovalainen, however, was disappointed not to get more out of his T127, partly because of traffic.

Virgin
Timo Glock, 1m 40.748s, P20, will start P19
Lucas di Grassi, 1m 42.325s, P22

Virgin were very close to Lotus, thanks to a great lap by Glock, who survived a quick spin. He’s one of the real beneficiaries of Petrov’s penalty, as he moves to the clean side of the grid. Di Grassi wasn’t happy with his runs in Q1 and said he didn’t manage to use his second set of tyres properly, and then made a mistake.

HRT
Sakon Yamamoto, 1m 42.444s, P23
Bruno Senna, 1m 43.283s, P24

HRT did a fine job to hone the set-up of their F110s, and Yamamoto and Senna were much closer to Di Grassi than previously as a result.

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