Vettel grabs pole in Korea
Sebastian Vettel (Getty Images)
Yeongam - Runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel grabbed pole position on Saturday for the Korean Grand Prix, pipping Mercedes' Lewis Hamilton.
Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was third fastest in qualifying for Sunday's grand prix but a 10-place grid penalty from the previous race relegates him to 13th.
In-form Romain Grosjean of Lotus was fourth fastest at a sparse and increasingly overcast Yeongam circuit, ahead of Hamilton's team-mate Nico Rosberg.
Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, who is the closest challenger to Vettel in the title race but still a hefty 60 points behind with six races left, was sixth fastest.
His team-mate Felipe Massa, Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, both of Sauber, and the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen rounded out the top 10.
Vettel's third pole position on the trot came courtesy of a scorching time of 1min 37.202sec, compared with Hamilton's 1min 37.420sec.
It was a wretched qualifying session for Jenson Button and Sergio Perez of McLaren, whose difficult season took another turn for the worse when they failed to make the top-10 shoot-out.
With most the drivers switching to super-soft tyres, Q2 belonged to Mercedes at first, before Vettel made his move late on to usurp Hamilton at the top of the charts - a place he would never relinquish.
Rosberg and Hamilton, then Hulkenberg and Raikkonen, had set the early pace in Q1, swapping best times, as Vettel and Webber appeared content to play a waiting game initially.
Paul Di Resta of Force India surprisingly just survived being eliminated in Q1, but could not avoid the same fate in Q2, going out along with team-mate Adrian Sutil.
Starting grid for Sunday's Korean Grand Prix after qualifying on Saturday:1st row
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)2nd row
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus-Renault)
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari)4th row
Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Sauber-Ferrari)
Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Sauber-Ferrari)5th row
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Lotus-Renault)
Sergio Perez (MEX/McLaren-Mercedes)6th row
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)7th row
Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault)
Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes)8th row
Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India-Mercedes)
Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)9th row
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams-Renault)
Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault)10th row
Charles Pic (FRA/Caterham-Renault)
Giedo van der Garde (NED/Caterham-Renault)11th row
Max Chilton (GBR/Marussia-Cosworth)
Jules Bianchi (FRA/Marussia-Cosworth)NOTES:
Webber qualified third but was relegated to 13th because of 10-place grid penalty
Bianchi qualified 21st but was relegated to 22nd because of a three-grid penalty