Red Bull king of Korean quali
LOOKING GOOD... until final qualifying. Sebastian Vettel comes into the pits beneath the picturesque bridge at the 2012 Korean F1 GP.
YEONGAM, South Korea - Australian Mark Webber has seized pole position for the 2012 South Korean F1 GP with title-chasing Red Bull team mate Sebastian Vettel having to settle for second.
Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso qualified fourth and will share the second row with McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.
Alonso is leading double World champion Vettel by four points for the Drivers’ championship with five races, including Sunday's, remaining in 2012. Webber is 60 points off the lead.
POLE, BUT FOR REAL
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said: “The target was to start from the second or third row at least and we have. Now we focus on the race.”
The pole was Webber's first proper one of the season; he also started from the top slot in Monaco but only after Mercedes' Michael Schumacher was demoted five places – but the Korean pole was a surprise after Vettel had dominated practice.
"We have a pretty handy car around here, for sure," said Webber after Red Bull's second front row lockout in two races. "The guys have been working very hard and the hard work is paying off."
The pole was also the 200th for a Renault engine in F1. Ferrari is the only other engine maker to have achieved this.
Vettel had been comfortably fastest in both the first two parts of qualifying but missed out right at the end when he was surprised to find Ferrari's Felipe Massa still on the track ahead of him.
"I don't want to blame it on Felipe," said Vettel, who will still be favourite to win, of his last run. "I thought he was coming in (to the pits) and then in the last sector he was right in front of me so I had to back off. Not ideal when just starting a timed lap."
The German was earlier heard angrily asking his team by radio, who had informed him that his lap was not good enough, why he was not told about Massa. "What was I supposed to say?" replied the race engineer.
In an eventful qualifying, Hamilton had to take avoiding action in the pits lane when Mercedes released Michael Schumacher into his path after he had left the garage in the final phase. Mercedes was later fined the equivalent of about R100 000 for the unsafe release.
McLaren team mate Jenson Button will start 11th after running wide on his first lap in the second phase and then having to slow for yellow flags on his final lap after Daniel Ricciardo's Toro Rosso stopped by the track.
"It's going to be very tough to get ahead of them (Webber and Vettel)," said Hamilton. "These guys have clearly made a very big step."
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh hoped, however, that his drivers had the long run pace to challenge the Red Bulls.
MERCEDES PAIR FIFTH
Finland's Kimi Raikkonen, third overall in the championship, qualified fifth for Lotus with Massa alongside him. French team mate Romain Grosjean will start seventh with Germany's Nico Hulkenberg eighth on the grid for Force India.
The Mercedes pair of Nico Rosberg and Schumacher will share the fifth row.
Grosjean said: "I hope tomorrow is going to be a good day for me. I need to get through the first lap without incident." It was Grosjean, who collided with Webber at the start in Japan the previous weekend and was banned for the Italian GP for taking out Alonso at the first corner in Belgium.
Stay with Wheels24 for the 2012 Korean F1 GP weekend.
Qualifying times from the 2012 Korean F1 GP:
1 Mark Webber (Australia) Red Bull 1min37.242
2 Sebastian Vettel (Germany) Red Bull 1min37.316
3 Lewis Hamilton (Britain) McLaren 1min37.469
4 Fernando Alonso (Spain) Ferrari 1min37.534
5 Kimi Raikkonen (Finland) Lotus 1min37.625
6 Felipe Massa (Brazil) Ferrari 1min37.884
7 Romain Grosjean (France) Lotus 1min37.934
8 Nico Hulkenberg (Germany) Force India 1min38.266
9 Nico Rosberg (Germany) Mercedes 1min38.361
10 Michael Schumacher (Germany) Mercedes 1min38.513
11 Jenson Button (Britain) McLaren 1min38.441
12 Sergio Perez (Mexico) Sauber 1min38.460
14 Paul di Resta (Britain) Force India 1min38.643
15 Pastor Maldonado (Venezuela) Williams 1min38.725
16 Daniel Ricciardo (Australia) Toro Rosso 1min39.084
17 Jean-Eric Vergne (France) Toro Rosso 1min39.340
18 Bruno Senna (Brazil) Williams 1min39.443
19 Vitaly Petrov (Russia) Caterham 1min40.207
20 Heikki Kovalainen (Finland) Caterham 1min40.333
21 Charles Pic (France) Marussia 1min41.317
22 Timo Glock (Germany) Marussia 1min41.371
23 Pedro de la Rosa (Spain) HRT 1min42.881
24 Narain Karthikeyan (India) HRT No time
1-10: Third and final qualifying session
11-17: Second qualifying session
18-24: First qualifying session