Sebastian Vettel seemed relieved to be reasonably close to the pace of McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton during qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix, rather than disappointed that Red Bull‘s run of pole-positions had been broken.
The German will start tomorrow’s race alongside pole-sitter Hamilton on the front row of the grid, whilst team-mate Mark Webber starts fourth, alongside Jenson Button.
“McLaren looked very competitive yesterday; I know the conditions were completely different, but you could see they were a fair chunk ahead of everyone else, including us,” said the world champion. “They looked extremely quick this morning in the dry also, but I think once again we pushed them very hard in qualifying and got closer than I think they, and we, expected. So, I think we did a good job.
“We also saved all our soft tyres, which I think will be crucial for tomorrow. We only had a rough idea from this morning with more fuel in the car, but I think we are in a good position. There's not a long run to the first corner and Turn 3 is a little bit exposed, so we'll see. It's a long race, a lot of things can happen and I think tyre wear will be crucial.”
Webber is also pleased that his team seemed to be closer to McLaren than the wet practice sessions had suggested, and is expecting a four-way battle during tomorrow’s race.
“On the last run, I lost the rear a little bit on the exit of Turn 1,” said the Australian, recalling his qualifying session. “I tried to get it back through Turn 3, but I was down 3/10 of a second; it's a pity as you're not going to get that back in the last sector – which hadn't been too bad on the previous run. So, we're fourth tomorrow to start.
“It's a shame that Jenson got me in the end there, as it bumped me onto the left hand side of the grid, but we'll see how we go tomorrow in the race. Tyres are going to be interesting tomorrow, as there were different strategies in qualifying. We're closer to the McLarens than we thought and it was a well fought contest between the four of us.”
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is also expecting a good fight with McLaren in tomorrow’s race, pointing out that Nico Hulkenberg was the last driver to deny the team pole position before today.
“Well, for the first time since Brazil last year we didn't make the pole position today, but it was a very exciting qualifying session and Sebastian produced a stunning lap to split the two McLarens and be on the front row,” said Horner. “Mark backed that up with fourth. We elected to take a different approach to others with our tyre usage in qualifying, which has saved us three sets of the soft tyre for tomorrow's race, should that come into play. It's going to be a fascinating race with strategy and pit-work and hopefully we can take the fight to the McLaren's.”