Tweet from @H_Kovalainen: 3rd session done, no problems, guys going quite fast around me this time so need to raise the fighting level this afternoon! #fb
A feature with Button on the BBC sees the McLaren driver suggest getting pole position is not completely crucial as there are so many overtaking opportunities around the circuit. Phew!
|Free Practice 1||Hamilton||1:40.887|
|Free Practice 2||Webber||1:37.942|
|Free Practice 3||Kubica||1:37.354|
Under ten minutes until qualifying begins now.
Tweet from @TheFifthDriver: If you're up early in Europe, it looks like quali could be a classic! Follow us LIVE here - The Race 1.1b http://www.mclaren.com/home
Tweet from @MikeGascoyne: 5 mins to go before qualifying, should be a really interesting session throughout the grid. Overcast but dry
It's nice to see a few more fans in the grandstands now.
Qualifying session 1 begins.
Kovalainen heads out first.
Lots of other cars head out as well, eight still to go.
Heikki starts his first flying lap. Getting into the action nice and early, I approve.
Tweet from @autosportlive: Traffic is expected to be a problem in this segment, with a queue through the tight walled section likely to cause some anger.
Heikki sets the first laptime - 1:45.450. Three seconds slower than his final FP3 time.
Schumacher pushes into the 1:40s, as the times come flooding in.
The driver with the most space in front of him is Senna, who's got almost the entire of one of those long straights before he would meet any traffic.
Button and Kubica are yet to leave the garage, whilst the Red Bulls are about to set their first time.
Hamilton drops the time into the 1:38s, and is immediately pushed down by Hulkenberg. Odd.
Glock, Kovalainen and Senna return to the pitlane.
Alonso posts a 1:37.395 - we are almost at our fastest time so far at this track.
Replays show Glock spinning a lovely 360 and continuing onwards.
Tweet from @alexjsnell: Timo back in the garage and advising that tyres are taking one lap to get up to temp #F1
Button and Kubica both leave the garage to set their first times of the session.
Hamilton improves to a 1:37.113 - fastest time of the weekend. Question is, how low can we go?
Towards the back of the grid, it is Kubica who is the non-new team sitting in the drop zone, but he has no time as yet. If not him, it is Heidfeld who is struggling.
Senna is on a hot lap, and Kubica closes up behind him, not rushing to get by. Or not able. I'm favouring the former.
Top six drivers all pit - they are happy they're through to Q2.
Kubica finally has a time, sitting just above his teammate in 11th. Therefore, it is Heidfeld for now in the drop zone.
He is on a lap though.
I take back what I just said, Alonso has left the pits again - probably not for another hot lap though.
Heidfeld improves to 11th, dropping Liuzzi down to 18th.
Just over one minute to go.
Tweet from @tonyfernandes: jarno put in a good lap. 1.41.490. just ahead of glock. heikki improving. hopefully no traffic for him
Liuzzi improves to 15th, dropping his teammate Sutil downwards.
Qualifying session 1 ends.
Sutil hauls himself up and it is... oh, it's Liuzzi again down in 18th.
Both Toro Rossos are through to Q2. Good news for them.
|18||Tonio Liuzzi||Force India|
|20||Timo Glock||Virgin Racing|
|22||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin Racing|
Yamamoto finally manages to outqualify his teammate, for the first time since he climbed in the car.
Interview with Liuzzi: "We're suffering a high problem of graining. In the morning we had a puncture, so we didn't try out the option tyres, and we didn't expect this much graining. Will be a big problem for tomorrow's race, but will make it more exciting and we'll see what happens."
Qualifying session 2 begins.
Alguersuari leads the way for about the millionth time this weekend.
Lots of drivers pile out on track to join him, with just both Saubers remaining in the garage.
Team radio from Button: "Can I get a new helmet? This one hasn't got any tear-offs left."
Vettel has the early lead - a 1:37.224. Hulkenberg puts in some fast early laps too. He must be trying to impress someone.
Less than ten minutes to go, neither Sauber has left the garage yet.
Sutil returns to the pitlane.
Vettel and Webber make it a (no doubt temporary) Red Bull 1-2. Times into the 1:36s now.
Massa is doing well, fourth fastest, but he has bolted on the option tyres already.
Heidfeld looks read to go out now - Kobayashi will likely follow soon as everyone else is in the garage. A nice, quiet track for them to get to work.
At this halfway stage, aside from the Saubers, the drop-zone contains Buemi, Sutil, Alguersuari, Hulkenberg and Petrov.
Sutil, Alonso and Kubica hit the track again. Maybe not so quiet for the Sauber boys.
Three minutes to go, and all drivers are out on track now.
Webber runs wide at turn 1, but no damage done. Alonso sets a new fastest time - 1:36.287.
Heidfeld has improved to 13th, but still in the drop zone. Kobayashi goes a bit higher, up to 11th, not enough to get him through.
Petrov has a big spin, manages to continue, but has wrecked his tyres and is unlikely now to go through.
Qualifying session 2 ends.
Massa popped up to P1, then Vettel beat him and then Webber beat them both - 1:36.039.
|14||Adrian Sutil||Force India|
|15||Vitaly Petrov *||Renault|
|16||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso|
|17||Sebastien Buemi||Toro Rosso|
* Petrov gets that five place grid drop, so he will start 20th, barring no other penalties.
The top ten shoot out will feature both Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes drivers, plus Kubica and Barrichello.
A mini analysis of Q2.
Interview with Hulkenberg: "The long straights and all the big braking areas definitely provide overtaking opportunities, so from P11, the good thing is we can choose the tyre we start on. Just need to work on a good strategy for the race."
Qualifying session 3 begins.
Webber heads out first, Hamilton and Button close behind him.
Tweet from @InsideFerrari: Now in Q3 Felipe has only one set of new soft tyres while Fernando has two available
Just Massa and both Mercedes drivers remain in the garage.
Webber sets the first time of the session, but is immediately pushed down by Hamilton, who in turn is knocked down by Alonso - 1:35.927.
Massa leaves the garage, just as Vettel pops into second place.
I blinked and half the session has past already.
Button has a big wobble, runs wide and kicks up some serious dust. That won't help his chances.
Replays show Hamilton having a big scare coming into the pitlane, he missed the entrance completely and narrowly missed the barriers on the other side.
The Mercedes guys head out on track just as everyone returns to the garage.
After a quick tyre change, Webber is back out for his final run.
Vettel is the last to leave the pitlane, and will likely only have time for one lap.
One minute to go.
Webber takes a corner slightly to wide, only a small plume of dust there.
Webber goes second fastest, as Alonso improves on his own pole position time.
Qualifying session 3 ends.
|1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull|
|2||Mark Webber||Red Bull|
Tweet from @eddstrawF1: Vettel's 14th F1 pole position. 19th= in the all-time list with Ascari, Hunt, Peterson & Barrichello.
Rosberg has done an impressive job to beat both Massa and Button for 5th place.
Webber must be disappointed - second is the worst place. Not quite pole, and on the dirty side of the grid.
Neither Alonso nor Webber look particularly impressed as they head towards the press conference.
Press conference quotes - Vettel: "With so little running yesterday and this morning, the difference was basically to get into the rhythm. Some corners here are quite difficult to understand how they work. There's a lot of things to understand.
"As usual, when it comes to corners, we know our car is good, when it comes to straights we are trying our best."
Press conference quotes - Webber: "It would have been nice to get pole but in the end it's still a good position to start the race with. Quali went to plan today, I would say, pretty close to perfect but not quite.
"Fernando will be pretty solid off the line but it's not make or break for the world championship, so we'll just do the best we can. It's still a good position."
Press conference quotes - Alonso: "In Q3, we knew that we had a little possibility. Not too much but when we arrive at the crucial moment, Red Bull is normally pushing a bit more and being a bit quicker than everybody. I think P3, I think is our maximum potential today. Normally, qualifying is not our strongest point of the weekend but here it seems we are quite close to the Red Bull so it's looking good for tomorrow.
"We need to see the forecasts, there are some doubts about the rain possibility. There are five contenders at the moment, maybe tomorrow not all five will finish the race. We can't be one of those, we need to keep scoring points every race."
It has swung in Red Bull's direction once more, then and Webber is in a good(ish) position to keep his championship lead in tact. All his rivals are close around him, though, so it's not going to be an easy race.
As the man himself said, any one of the drivers could not make it to the finish tomorrow, and no one wants to be the first to blink and crash out of the Korean GP.
If there's any rain tomorrow, as the forecasts are now suggesting, it's going to be even more chaotic than it might otherwise be.
I hope you are going to join me back here so we can watch the race together! See you then.
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