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Red Bull duo take front row in Korea qualifying

Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel (pictured) beat teammate Mark Webber to pole position on South Korea's brand new Yeongam race circuit Saturday ahead of the inaugural Korean Grand Prix.


AFP - Sebastian Vettel led a Red Bull lockout of the front row after qualifying at the inaugural Korean Grand Prix at the new Yeongam circuit on Saturday.

The 23-year-old German recorded his ninth pole of the 2010 season with a lap of 1 minute 35.585 seconds, edging teammate and world championship leader Mark Webber of Australia by 0.074secs in a thrilling hour-long session.

Vettel's pole is the 14th of his career, and the front-row one-two is Red Bull's eighth of the season.

The German said it has taken some time to become accustomed to the 5.621-kilometre circuit this weekend.

"Some corners here are quite tricky to understand the way they work, especially Turn 9, 10 and 11," Vettel said.

"It wasn't easy, but as usual when it comes to corners, we know our car is very good. In a straight line, we're doing our best, but there's not much we can do, so we have to fight back in the corners."

Webber, who qualified on the front row for the 12th time in 17 races this season, edged Vettel in the second knockout part of qualifying by three one-hundredths of a second.

The 34-year-old lost out to his teammate in the final session after electing to run consecutive flying laps on the softer Bridgestone tyre.

"I wasn't that happy on the first timed lap, to be honest," Webber said.

"It was more comfortable for me to do two timed (laps), and it worked out OK. It was very close with Seb, and I got second on the grid, which is a lot better off than many other positions.

"It would have been nice to get pole, but it's still a very good position to start the race and we can do very well from there. It was pretty close to perfect, but not quite."

Spaniard Fernando Alonso was third for Ferrari, a result he called the "maximum" for the Italian team.

"We knew that we had a little possibility (for pole), but not too much because we know when we arrive at the crucial moments, Red Bull is usually pushing a little bit more and quicker than everybody," Alonso said.

"I think (third) is the maximum today, which in a way is very good news because normally qualifying is not our strongest part of the weekend."

Britain's Lewis Hamilton was fourth for McLaren, half a second adrift of Vettel's pole time, while the third row will be shared by German Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) and Brazilian Felipe Massa of Ferrari.

Defending world champion Jenson Button struggled to get on the pace of his title rivals, qualifying seventh for McLaren, 1.2secs off the pace.

Poland's Robert Kubica, who topped morning practice for Renault, finished eighth, while Germany's nine-time world champion Michael Schumacher of Mercedes and Brazilian veteran Rubens Barrichello (Williams) rounded out the top 10.

Hamilton edged Vettel by 0.010secs in the first part of qualifying, which eliminated the seven slowest cars after 20 minutes.

Both drivers from new teams Lotus, Virgin Racing and Hispania Racing, along with Italian Vitantonio Liuzzi of Force India were knocked out after the first session, with Button managing just 10th place after struggling with tyre temperature problems.

Webber led a Red Bull one-two in the second part of qualifying, with Massa outpacing Ferrari teammate Alonso in third.

One of the seven drivers eliminated in the second 15-minute session was Russian Vitaly Petrov, who qualified 15th for Renault.

The rookie driver will start tomorrow's race from 20th place owing to a five-place grid penalty after he caused a collision with German Nico Hulkenberg of Williams at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix two weeks ago.

With races in Brazil and Abu Dhabi to follow the maiden Grand Prix in Korea, Webber leads the championship on 220 points, with Alonso and Vettel both on 206.

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