Korean Grand Prix: Pre Race Thoughts

The Korean Grand Prix has been described as a track where you get two for the price of one. The 5.615km Korea International Circuit is one of the longest races in the calendar. Equipped with a second DRS zone this year, has the qualities of a twisty street circuit from turns four to seventeen, sandwiched in between long straights. The Korean Grand Prix is notorious for rain, it would be fantastic to finally get a wet race. This week there have been weather warnings of a typhoon, though the storm seems to have changed directions, and if the rest of the championship is anything to go by, Sunday will be bone dry. Shame.

Vettel was unsurprisingly fast at the Korea International Circuit taking pole position with 1:37.202. Webber qualified in P3, though his 10 place grid penalty from Singapore will see him out of position to start from thirteenth on the grid. Definitely not what the Australian veteran needs. I don’t think Webber will be spending too much time in the middle of the pack however. Despite having poor starts, Webber is strong in the race, with incredible control in the corners, I don’t think he’ll have issue overtaking.

Mercedes once again have qualified well with Hamilton in P2 and Rosberg in P5 (starting fourth). Hamilton was quick on the pace all through practice and qualifying. Rosberg is at times overlooked, though he is consistent on Sundays when it’s needed. From what we’ve seen today, Mercedes may finally be a serious threat to the Red Bulls on race day.

Sauber were impressive in qualifying making as both cars made it through to Q3. Gutierrez was blisteringly quick during practice*, which I was pleased to see transfer into qualifying. Gutierrez qualified ninth, but will start eighth. Talk among the paddock is that Nico Hulkenburg could be signed to Lotus next year as Kimi’s replacement, and I have to say, I wouldn’t hate that. It is hard to fault Hulkenburg at the moment, with P4 in Q2 and P8 in Q3.

Ferrari looked good in qualifying, despite not being able to get the pace out of the car. Alonso P6 qualified ahead of his team mate today in P7. I look forward to see Alonso at work tomorrow without Massa’s help in the team. The Brazilian has made it crystal clear that he will be racing for himself and no longer the team. It could be fun to see some of the mid 2000s Massa back on track.

Once again Grosjean impressed me with his pace through qualifying, replacing Webber for third on the grid tomorrow. His seat at Lotus next year was pretty much guaranteed with the departure of Raikkonen, but Grosjean is definitely proving his worth within the team. I’m praying he keeps his head in tomorrows race, there are so many corners, and so many opportunities for him to crash. Raikkonen seems to struggle during qualifying, with reported balance issues. Kimi qualified tenth, though will start from ninth.

Ricciardo for Toro Rosso made it through to Q2, to qualify P13, though he’ll be giving that spot to Webber and starting twelfth. Although Ricciardo is consistently out qualifying his team mate, I would still like to see more from the soon to be Red Bull driver on Sundays.

Both McLaren’s and Williams were knocked out in Q2. Button felt he was impeded by the Lotus of Raikkonen by 0.15 of a second, which could have found him a place. The back of the grid is made up of the usual suspects of Caterham and Marussia.

So tomorrow seems set to be a fight between Mercedes and Red Bull. Personally I’d like to see Lotus stay caught up in the action.

– Alex

* Possibly his thick neck/thin head combination is an aerodynamic dream

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