Red Bull's Formula One championship leader Sebastian Vettel grabbed pole position at the Korean Grand Prix on Saturday while closest title rival Fernando Alonso qualified only fifth for Ferrari. Vettel, who chalked up his third pole position in a row, will have Lewis Hamilton's Mercedes to keep him company on the front row for Sunday's race but the German's car was once again comfortably quicker.
Vettel's flying lap of one minute 37.202 seconds was 0.218 seconds faster than 2008 world champion Hamilton, who had kept him off the top of the timesheets in both Friday practice sessions. The German is 60 points clear of Alonso in the standings, with five races to go after Yeongam, and is chasing his fourth consecutive win with a fourth successive title fast approaching.
Alonso would have been further down the grid had Australian Mark Webber, Vettel's team mate, not collected a 10 place penalty for taking a post-race 'taxi ride' on the Spaniard's car in Singapore two weeks ago. Webber, who was on pole in Korea last year, qualified third but will start outside the top 10 with even more of a mountain to climb than Alonso.
"I think it was fairly close. I had a very good lap in Q3 (the final phase), on my first attempt. I knew it would be tricky for me to beat that time, for myself" Vettel said after celebrating his 42nd career pole. "As expected Mercedes was very strong. So it's a tight battle ... we have got the balance right this weekend and I improved the car from yesterday as I was not entirely happy after practice."
Qualifying conditions were cooler than in practice, although Vettel was also quickest in the final session on Saturday morning, and Sunday could see some rain although the threat of a typhoon has receded. "I don't mind, it's not a disaster if it starts to rain, we have rain tyres in the garage," said the 26-year-old. "When I arrived on Wednesday, it was very windy but it has died down since then and I think the typhoon has changed direction."Storming starts
Vettel and Alonso