Sebastian Vettel snatched a last-gasp pole position for the inaugural Korean GP, while team-mate Mark Webber also improved on his last lap to push Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso off the front row of the grid.
The Spaniard had looked good for pole until the dying seconds, having clocked the first lap in the 1min 35secs bracket, but had no answer to the Red Bulls as Vettel and Webber ran last on track. The German, who now has nine pole positions this season, made up time in the final sector of the lap to demote Alonso by a couple of tenths, while Webber – who had slotted in behind the Ferrari on his penultimate run – improved on his last to join his team-mate on the front row.
Alonso, however, had enough in hand to ensure that he was not passed by McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, leaving the Briton, like Webber, on the dirtier side of the Yeongam grid. Hamilton very nearly didn’t make his second run, having survived a hairy moment entering the pits that sent him across the grass rather than through the conventional entry.
Nico Rosberg got the better of the second Ferrari of Felipe Massa, after the Brazilian proved unable to build on his impressive Q2 run, while Jenson Button could do no better than seventh after struggling with his McLaren. There were no Suzuka-esque heroics from Robert Kubica, who nevertheless managed to out-pace Michael Schumacher and Rubens Barrichello in the battle for eighth.