Tweet from @Marussia_F1Team: T minus 12 minutes til the #BIAnCHI boys tear out of the garage & hoof it down that long 1.25km straight to start their qualifying runs :)
The Korean International Circuit provides a dusty and down-right green surface early on in the weekend, but by now the drivers have got some rubber down and should be a little happier with the tarmac.
Pirelli have brought the medium and supersoft compounds to Korea, the same offerings as in Singapore, and the medium and red sidewalls respectively.
It's worth noting Kimi Räikkönen's big crash of FP1. With nine seconds to go in the session, he crashed into the wall, trashing the car. The team patched it up but he still didn't feel too happy with the car in the afternoon.
Tweet from @WilliamsF1Team: rack is 4 degrees cooler than this morning as we wait for qualifying to get underway for the #KoreanGP
In stat-tastic fun, Vettel is the only driver with a 13-0 score on qualifying better than his teammate. The Sauber and Marussia pair have a 12-1 score each, favouring Nico Hülkenberg and Jules Bianchi respectively.
Qualifying session 1 begins.
Esteban Gutiérrez heads out first and so far alone. He's got the medium tyres bolted on his Sauber.
Vettel is in the garage making his traditional preparations, headphones firmly on, viewing a bit of data on-screen. By contrast, Romain Grosjean sits in the car, eyes closed, focus on.
Eight other cars file out of the pit lane to join Esteban, as the Sauber driver rounds the final corner to start his first flying lap. More and more join the fun.
Tweet from @MercedesAMGF1: It will be interesting to see who/if anyone gets through Q1 using prime tyres only
Gutiérrez's first lap time is a 1:41.058 - that's sure to come down very swiftly.
For reference, pole position last year was a 1:37.242 set by Mark Webber in that Red Bull.
Replays show Kimi Räikkönen running wide off track, no damage this time though!
As more drivers come out for their early laps, Caterham and Marussia have opted to put their drivers immediately on the supersoft tyres.
Grosjean preps to head out for his first qualifying run, via @Lotus_F1Team
The Mercedes pair head straight to the top of the timesheets with Nico Rosberg P1 at the moment, a 1:39.415. Still to hit the track, Vettel, Webber and Grosjean.
Gutiérrez has popped back into the pitlane for a tyre change, supersofts go on the car, and he's back off for another run.
Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa have split the Red Bulls with their Ferraris, Alonso ahead. Only for a moment, however, as Hamilton rounds the final corner and crosses the line for P1, with a 1:38.574.
Vettel and Webber have both left the garage, oddly Grosjean still remains.
Gutiérrez, with those red-striped supersofts, pops up to second fastest, just a couple of tenths off Hamilton's time.
Grosjean is out and about now, medium tyre bolted on the Lotus. Meanwhile, Nico Rosberg has been the weighbridge which loses him a bit of time.
Max Chilton gets a push as he returns to the garage, via @Marussia_F1Team.
The Red Bull pair finished that first run in third and fourth, with Webber uncharacteristically ahead of Vettel. They're firmly on the meidums, whilst almost all the rest of the field have switched to the softer compound.
Only Hamilton in P1, the two Red Bulls, two McLarens and Grosjean are risking it on the mediums at the moment.
Button's radio informs him they think the cutoff will be a 1:38.8. Button crosses the line for that exact time.
Rosberg had a puncture, apparently, and that's why he's switched to supersofts compared to his teammates medium strategy.
Grosjean popped up briefly in P5, but is rapidly dropping down the order as the faster times come in.
Nico Rosberg posts the fastest time so far, only to be beaten by Kimi Räikkönen.
Paul di Resta hovers near the drop zone, he was held up on his run by a Marussia, so he needs this lap to scrape through.
The drop zone currently has the two Williams drivers alongside the normal participants.
Qualifying session 1 ends. Di Resta gives up on his lap and comes back into the pit lane, luckily for him, he's saved by the two Williams who can't haul themselves out of the bottom six.
|20||G van der Garde||Caterham|
Di Resta's radio suggests they are complaining to the FIA about the Marussia of Jules Bianchi who didn't move out the way quickly enough for Force India's liking. The Scot says on the radio: "That was unbelievable!"
The fastest three in that session were Kimi Räikkönen, and the two Nicos of Rosberg and Hülkenberg.
Tweet from @pirellisport: Out of the medium runners in Q1 Hamilton qualifies highest in 6th place.
Qualifying session 2 begins.
Quiet early seconds of the second session, as the drivers take a moment to pick the optimum time to head out.
Interview with Jules Bianchi: "I pushed, I had nowhere to go. I was flat in the last corner and tried to stay in front, I had a small gap so it was okay for me.
"The car feels okay, we struggle all the time on the second set, our first set was really good but then we struggled a bit so we need to understand why."
Finally the drivers break cover and we've got seven cars out on track in one go.
It looks like everyone has opted for the supersoft tyres straight away in this second session.
Tweet from @clubforce: Track action picking up now - our boys head out on SuperSofts again.
Just as before, Vettel, Webber and Grosjean are waiting in the garage, poised to strike when the time is right.
Daniel Ricciardo puts the first lap time on the board, but he's beaten immediately (although only by a couple of hundredths) by Kimi Räikkönen - 1:39.236.
More times filter in, Lewis Hamilton pops up with a new benchmark - 1:37.824. Teammate Nico Rosberg slots in behind, with just two tenths between the two Mercedes.
Those lagging behind, Webber, Vettel and Grosjean, have finally joined the action, all have the supersoft tyres are on, so now it's a matter of saving the rubber as best as possible.
At this point, it's just those three circling the track, whilst everyone else comes back in for a change of rubber and any final setup tweaks.
Vettel jumps straight up to P1 with a 1:37.569. Webber slips in behind Hamilton, and Grosjean behind Rosberg.
All bar the two Mercedes drivers have returned to the track for their final bid for the top ten.
Webber returns to the garage, Vettel follows in swiftly, so the top four are happy with their times for this session.
Kimi Räikkönen is suffering through an awful lot of traffic on his flying lap, passing lots of cars on their outlaps - no one's holding him up but it can't help.
Grosjean also pits with the current fifth fastest time.
Qualifying session 2 ends.
Hülkenberg jumped Grosjean and Rosberg for fourth place, with Alonso following him up to fifth.
Massa drops down into the bottom six, but he's on a lap so needs to improve.
Button is also dropping rapidly down the order, but is also on a lap.
Massa manages to haul himself out of the drop zone, dropping Pérez in. Button couldn't manage it, and he finishes 12th with his teammate ahead in 11th.
|13||D Ricciardo||Toro Rosso|
|14||A Sutil||Force India|
|15||P di Resta||Force India|
|16||JE Vergne||Toro Rosso|
Sergio Pérez outqualified Button by three thousandths of a second.
Sauber continue their good run of qualifying performances, with both drivers through to the top ten.
The fastest three in that session were Vettel, Hamilton and Webber.
The last time the Saubers were both in the top ten was Japan 2012, so Monisha may be able to crack a bit of a smile on the pit wall!
Button's radio is resigned to his qualifying position, he complains on the radio he was a bit held up by a Lotus. "Don't know which one," he said. It could only be Räikkönen as Grosjean was in the garage.
Qualifying session 3 begins.
This time, Mark Webber heads out straight away, he's got to qualify as best as possible knowing he has a ten place grid penalty to contend with.
Vettel joins his teammate on track, it's very odd to see the Red Bull pair out this early. They're joined by Grosjean and the two Mercedes drivers.
The guys that have headed out early have a spare pair of the supersoft tyres compared to the other five who need to be a bit more conservative.
Mark Webber posts a brief benchmark, but he's unsurprisingly beaten by Sebastian Vettel, who sets the bar at a 1:37.202.
Those five drivers return to the pit lane, the order Vettel, Webber, Hamilton, Grosjean and Rosberg.
A moment of quiet.
Rosberg breaks cover again, a brief stop for him. Esteban Gutiérrez also heads out for the first time of the session.
All the ten cars leave the garage, for a proper fight for grid position!
The pack starts their flying laps, with Fernando Alonso setting the fastest first sector, and then Hülkenberg doing the same.
Qualifying session 3 ends.
Vettel just made it across the line to start his flying lap, so it all comes down to this one lap for each and every driver.
Rosberg doesn't improve on his fifth place.
Mark Webber dived into the pit lane, not doing his final lap. Hamilton goes second, so Vettel also gives up the lap and secures pole position.
Räikkönen qualified tenth place, with both the Saubers ahead of him - that's not a good session for the Lotus. Grosjean, by comparison, is up in fourth.
Pole position for Sebastian Vettel with a time of 1:37.202.
|1||S Vettel||Red Bull|
|3||M Webber||Red Bull|
Don't forget Webber's ten place grid drop, so he'll be out of the top ten on the race start, and the rest will move up a place.
Interview with Ross Brawn: "Pretty straight forward. The car wasn't quite what they wanted this morning, we've gone back a bit on setups. It's been a fairly quiet weekend so far. That's about as good as we could have done... the car was encouraging yesterday on fuel... it could be an interesting race tomorrow."
Tweet from @clubforce: So our drivers will start 14th and 15th. The race is when points are awarded and it's going to be a very long one tomorrow!
Tweet from @InsideFerrari: No surprise today. This is the package's potential. Tomorrow we can do a good race from the 3rd row
It's pretty much the session we were expecting. Vettel didn't need to run that final lap, but opted to be out on track rather than chewing on his nails in the garage.
He's got a Mercedes alongside him on the front row so we're in for a decisive first corner again - if Vettel gets ahead, it's going to be hard to beat him.
Press Conference Quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "I think it was fairly close, as we could see. I had a very good lap in Q3, my first attempt I knew would be tricky to beat that time for myself. I tried again, but the second run I caught Kimi on the warm-up lap... fortunately the first lap was good enough. Mercedes was very strong, I think they feel comfortable in the middle sector. It's a tight battle."
Press Conference Quotes - Lewis Hamilton: "You always hope, but we did as good a job as we could. I felt like I got the most out of the car. There's always a little room to improve. In general, it's been a good weekend so far. I hope tomorrow we're able to fight for them. We'll wait and see."
Press Conference Quotes - Mark Webber: "We had to take a bit of pace out the car for quali, looking at how we would compromise quali a bit more for the race. I could be two positions further up, I'd be 11th instead of 13th, but yea it was a tight quali with two Mercs, Seb and myself. It was a good battle. I think the race will be interesting, well and truly out of position, but I'll fight and hopefully come back through."
None of the top three looked all that fussed - Vettel comfortably ahead, Hamilton a little deflated, and Webber realistic about the penalty.
Elsewhere, we might be on for another Kimi fightback as he starts tenth, whilst the two Saubers need to hold on to as many points as they can.
Hopes are slightly less high for a good race tomorrow, but there's always optimism that someone can take the fight to the Red Bulls. Please join me back here tomorrow for lap by lap coverage of all the action (if there is any!)
Stay cool, fact fans.
All content in the series South Korea 2013
Filed under Lap by lap coverage
Previous post Free Practice 3 results - Korea 2013
Next post Qualifying results - Korea 2013
365 F1 stories