Kimi climbs into the car, via @rexonaf1.
Sebastian Vettel walks calmly to the garage, chased through the paddock by cameras. Most expect a Red Bull pole position today, but we've been surprised before!
Romain Grosjean sits in the car, red gloves resting in front of him. He looks a little nervous, if we're honest, but the pressure is on him.
Qualifying session 1 begins.
Heikki Kovalainen is the first to head out on track, pausing at the end of the pitlane for just a moment before the light went green.
Alonso is barely visible to the cameras as he sits in the car behind a big red screen. He can't be seeing much on there, there's only three cars in action.
Kovalainen heads round the final corner to cross the line for the first lap time of the session - 1:42.028. That's a way off what we're expecting, but okay for a first go.
Kimi Räikkönen has started his first lap of the session, this should be slightly faster than the Caterham. He uses up his KERS early in the lap, and then sweeps through the middle section.
We were so busy watching Kimi, that when he crossed the line he was second to Pastor Maldonado, who sneaked in a faster time. 1:39.716 is P1 at the moment.
Replays are showing Grosjean being held up by a Mercedes, possibly Schumacher, but he was on an outlap.
Track is clear. Not sure what that was but it cleared up quickly enough.
Fernando Alonso drops the times a little to head into P1, as Kovalainen returns to the garage to set up for another run.
The yellow flags were for Narain Karthikeyan, who lost control of the car and spun sideways off track at speed - worryingly close to a Force India.
Karthikeyan was complaining over the radio about losing the brakes.
Maldonado crosses the line for his second attempt, and remain second briefly, until Di Resta knocks him down. Felipe Massa pops up in P1!
Narain disappears in a cloud of smoke.
The Red Bull drivers are the last to leave the garage, with all drivers on for setting a time bar Karthikeyan.
Meanwhile, Kimi Räikkönen has dropped the times into the 1:38s, as Alonso heads round for yet another lap.
This time it is only good for fourth for the Ferrari.
Karthikeyan has been told over the radio that they think there's something wrong with the front right corner, they think they can fix it and then send him out again.
I almost forgot that Charles Pic has gained himself a ten place grid penalty for using his ninth engine of the season. It's not really a ten place drop though, it'll be more like two or three.
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: A lot of traffic! No clear lap yet
Sauber currently sitting 13th with Pérez and 15th with Kobayashi.
Vettel's first attempt at a lap sees him almost seven tenths faster than anyone else. P1 is now 1:38.208.
Webber joins his teammate at the top of the times, slipping into second. But the Red Bull pair are split by Button who crosses the line four tenths off Vettel's time.
With all setting a time (bar one HRT), the drop zone features the usual suspects, plus a lowly Senna who is behind both Caterhams at the moment.
Bottas watches on from the pitlane, presumably eyeing up Senna's seat. We've seen Bruno struggle in qualifying before, but a time of 1:41.048 definitely needs improving.
Eight of the top ten drivers are back in the pitlane - how many will feel comfortable enough with their times to not go out again?
That's more like it. Senna improves to 11th place. That drops Kobayashi down into the drop zone. From the looks of their Twitter account, the team are really struggling this weekend but have bolted on the super soft tyres in an attempt to speed up.
Karthikeyan is out of the car and watching on from the pit wall, I guess the team did not manage to fix the car as they had hoped.
The softer compound is working for Sauber, with Pérez up to fourth and Kobayashi fifth, less than a tenth between the pair.
Vergne is now sitting in the dropzone.
Qualifying session 1 ends.
Vergne shows what he can do (and how much grip is coming to the track), by zipping up to sixth place. Schumacher's the next in trouble.
Eighth for Schumacher, and it's Senna back in the drop zone.
Alonso is worryingly near to the danger zone and can only manage to cross the line 16th. But Senna has not improved and returned to the pitlane.
|23||P de la Rosa||HRT|
With Alonso managing to improve, just, Lewis Hamilton was the next car looking in danger. If Senna had not aborted his lap, there could have been a McLaren dropping out early!
The fastest three in that session were Vettel, Webber and Button - showing worrying pace from the Red Bull.
Interview with Vitaly Petrov: "I think it's a big positive moment because if you look back, in FP2 we had a puncture and also in P1 I didn't drive. I think we did a good job yesterday night, so we finished late last night. I think we have a good setup car, so we're very happy."
Qualifying session 2 begins.
Sergio Pérez heads out first on the supersoft compound - red sidewalls.
Kamui Kobayashi follows his teammate out of the pitlane, the Sauber pair ready to get going early.
Tweet from @eddstrawF1: Good performances from Petrov and Pic there - both outqualifying their team-mates.
There are fifteen cars out on track, just the two Mercedes cars remain in the garage. As I type, Nico Rosberg heads out.
Lotus mechanics are on their knees cleaning up some fluid from the garage floor - looks like one of the cars is leaking something.
Schumacher leaves the garage and heads out on track, making all seventeen cars on track - watch out for traffic issues!
As the lap times start to come in, Mark Webber pops up in P1, then knocked down by Alonso and again by Vettel. P1 is currently 1:37.767.
Lewis Hamilton slips into third, after locking up his tyres again.
As Schumacher crosses the line, all the drivers now have a timed lap on the boards.
The drop zone currently features Di Resta, Rosberg, Pérez, Ricciardo, Hülkenberg, Vergne and Maldonado.
Daniel Ricciardo's car has a swarm of activity about it, as the mechanics make some final adjustments. The Australian sits calmly in the car studying some data on a sheet of paper.
Schumacher was the last to leave the garage, and was the last to return - now the track falls quiet.
An engine roars and it's Paul di Resta who emerges first for this second run.
Pastor Maldonado is told on the radio that he has time for one timed lap and that's all he has to focus on.
Two minutes remain on the clock as Paul di Resta crosses the line to start his flying lap.
The only driver who has not left the garage is Sebastian Vettel, he's content with his P1 time.
Hülkenberg has improved to seventh place, Maldonado crosses the line thirteenth - not enough.
Qualifying session 2 ends.
Yellow flags as Vergne is parked off track.
Actually, it's Ricciardo not Vergne. Apologies.
The yellow flags has confused things, Button hasn't crossed the line fast enough - currently 11th. Other drivers have, but have they slowed down for the flags?
|14||Di Resta||Force India|
|16||D Ricciardo||Toro Rosso|
|17||J Vergne||Toro Rosso|
Replays show Ricciardo losing power and gliding off track and out of the way. He pondered over the radio if it was a gearbox problem.
Interview with Paul di Resta: "It was a bit unfortunate, as I came down to turn 1 there was a car coming out of the pitlane, and I overcompensated. I just got a McLaren in the last three sectors... up until that point we were three tenths up. It's unfortunate but traffic has cost us getting into Q3 there."
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: What a shame - we are out. The yellow flag in turn 16 didn't help, both had to back off. Bad luck. #Checo 12th, #Kamui 13th in qualy
Qualifying session 3 begins.
Nico Rosberg pauses at the end of the pitlane, but hurries along when other cars appear behind him.
Schumacher stops at the pit exit line and remains there, even though all the cars behind him after to go round. What's that about?
Lewis Hamilton glides past Mark Webber, the pair jostling for position on their outlaps.
Nico Hülkenberg returned straight to the pitlane, as the other nine drivers begin their flying laps.
Felipe Massa crosses the line for an early P1, with Fernando Alonso directly behind him on track stealing his P1 position.
Sebastian Vettel crosses the line with a 1:37.316, that's the time to beat. If it's possible to beat it!
Both Mercedes cars returned to the pitlane as well, leaving just seven cars with times at the moment.
The first run has Vettel, Alonso, Webber, Massa, Hamilton, Räikkönen and Grosjean.
Vettel leaves the garage, as cars start to pour back out on track.
Replays show Hamilton left his garage, to be confronted by a slow going Mercedes - he had to avoid to the right, luckily no one there to get in the way.
Both Mercedes and Hülkenberg have left the garage for this final flying lap opportunity - will they set times though?
Qualifying session 3 ends.
Webber improves to P1, Hamilton crosses the line third.
Rosberg does set a time, only good enough for eighth place.
Alonso slips into fourth, Massa sixth. More importantly, Vettel doesn't manage to get pole position, remaining in second.
Great pole lap from Mark Webber - 1:37.242 and less than a tenth between he and Vettel.
Comment from Mr C: "championship contenders: 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th. wow. what a setup!!"
|1||M Webber||Red Bull|
|2||S Vettel||Red Bull|
|8||N Hülkenberg||Force India|
As Hamilton climbed from the car, he spent a good deal of time studying the Red Bull closely, particularly the tyres.
Team radio to and from an unhappy Vettel: "Sebastian, you are P2. That wasn't quick enough. P1 is Webber, 37.24."
"Why did you not tell me about Massa?"
"What was I supposed to say?"
What did Massa do?
Poor Vettel and his frowny face.
Comment from Lukeh: driver rule #5 - always blame someone else for something you didn't achieve
Interview with Stefano Domenicali: "We are never pleased because we would like it to be the other way round. It's important to remember, if you look at where we were in qualifying in Suzuka, it's another step in the right direction and that's important. Our target was to start from the second or third row and that's achieved.
"On Friday the race pace was not bad, let's hope to have a clean start with no problems."
Press conference quotes - Mark Webber: "I think Monaco was my first pole but this one was won on track, nip and tuck with Fernando in Silverstone. As most qualifying sessions this year have been very tight, very happy to get the job done today, get the pole position. It was a reasonable lap and we did it when it counted, that's what qualifying is all about. It's been a tricky last few events for me but very happy to start on pole. Tomorrow is the main day, we're in a good position to get a good result.
"I think off the back of Suzuka, we felt we'd improved the car a bit. You never get ahead of yourself these days. We had a good car in Valencia and then after that it was not that easy for us, so we were a bit open to that, after Suzuka coming here, it was not going to be a given. We have a pretty handy car round here, for sure, and I think that the guys have been working very hard. There's no question the hard work is paying off, but we'll focus on ourselves and keep pushing the lap times down as much as we can. It's lucky we do, as the gap is not that big to Lewis."
Press conference quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "I think we can be very happy with the result. We were quite quick in the first qualifying session, quite quick in the second one, and then had a good start to Q3 but then the last run... I don't want to blame it on Felipe, I thought he was coming in, but then on the last sector he was right in front of me so I had to back off. Not ideal, just starting a timed lap just before that to back off.
"Nevertheless, the second lap wasn't good enough. Lost a little bit today in the middle sector, which seemed okay all weekend, but when the circuit ramped up I wasn't able to go with it. Lost a little bit, but I think second is a very good position to start from here. Obviously round here, you never know, you've got a long straight straight away, after the start so it could be interesting tomorrow."
Press conference quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "I think it'll be very tough to get ahead of them but we've put ourselves in as good a position as we could. It's very tough these weekend, obviously these guys have made a big step in the last two races. We've just got to keep pushing, we're not far off. Race pace for Jenson looked good yesterday. I'm just glad I got a clear lap and put it as high up as possible."
That'll do it for this early session. That grid lineup is very handy for the race tomorrow - hopefully it will be a good one. I'll be back to cover all the action lap by lap, I hope you'll join me!
All content in the series South Korea 2012
Filed under F1 live sessions
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13 October 2012
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