Lewis Hamiltion spoiled Red Bull’s perfect run of pole positions Saturday when he edged out Sebastian Vettel in the qualifying round of the Korean Grand Prix. Last week Vettel clinched his second straight F1 driver’s championship in Japan.
AP - Red Bull’s perfect run of pole positions in Formula One this season ended Saturday when McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton edged out Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix.
Hamilton’s time of 1 minute, 35.820 seconds was 0.222 seconds faster than Red Bull’s Vettel, who clinched his second straight F1 drivers championship at last weekend’s Japanese GP. Hamilton’s teammate Jenson Button was third ahead of Red Bull’s Mark Webber.
Red Bull had taken pole in all 15 races this season - 12 for Vettel and three for teammate Mark Webber, but couldn’t keep the streak going at the Yeongam track.
“I’m happy to be here and very proud of what the team has been able to achieve over the course of the last few races,” Hamilton said. “For Jenson to win the last race and for us to be on the front again and the only ones competing with Red Bull, I’m very happy.”
Red Bull employed a novel strategy of using the same set of super-soft tires for both the first two periods of qualifying meaning they have an extra set of the harder tires for Sunday’s race, giving them more flexibility in race strategy.
“McLaren looked competitive yesterday and though the conditions were completely different today, they were a fair chunk ahead of everyone including us,” said Vettel, who has three more GPs to equal Nigel Mansell’s record 14 poles in one season.
“In the dry this morning they were extremely quick but once again we pushed them very hard in qualifying, perhaps more than they expected and we did a good job in qualification.”
Button, who won the Japanese GP last weekend, said a mistake at the last corner prevented a McLaren 1-2 finish.
“I lost way too much time on the last corner,” Button said. “But I feel good in the car, P3 isn’t what I wanted but I’m looking forward to the race.”
Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said the tire strategy will make for an interesting race.
“We elected to take a different approach to others with our tire usage,” Horner said. “This saved us three sets of the soft tire for tomorrow’s race, should that come into play, it’s going to be a fascinating race with strategy and pit work and hopefully, we can take the fight to the McLaren’s.”
Button, however, said he wasn’t convinced the strategy will pay off.
“It’s not a decision you can take, I don’t think, before the race starts,” Button said. “Because we really don’t know which direction it will go throughout the race and you have to think on your toes in the race.”
McLaren had topped the timesheets in all three practice sessions, at what is the team’s 700th Grand Prix.
Hamilton took his 19th pole and his first grid-topping performance since Canada last year.
Webber was fourth after aborting his final lap of qualifying. Ferrari teammates Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso were fifth and sixth respectively.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was seventh ahead of Renault’s Vitaly Petrov. The Force India duo of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil rounded out the top 10.
As happy as he was with pole, Hamilton was focusing on Sunday’s race. The 2008 world champion finished second here last year to Alonso and is hoping to change his luck after a disappointing series of results including two fifth-place finishes in the last two races in Singapore and Japan.
“To be back on pole is a great feeling but tomorrow is the most important day,” Hamilton said. “We’ve had some difficult races in the past but we hope we can redeem ourselves tomorrow.”
Since winning the German Grand Prix in July, Hamilton has gone without a top-three finish for five races. His only other win of the season came at the Chinese GP in April.
McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh was pleased to see Red Bull’s run of consecutive poles end at 16, which is third-best all-time.
“I have to confess we do listen to the other drivers and I have a driver button and when they (Red Bull) go on pole, I have to turn it off immediately so I don’t have to hear Sebastian whooping it up in the car,” Whitmarsh said. “Today, I wasn’t feverishly looking for that button to turn it off.”
Date created : 2011-10-15