If you have become bored by Sebastian Vettel’s recent domination of Formula One, the qualifying times from this morning will have probably made for depressing reading.
Yet don’t be too disheartened, because so far this weekend the triple champion has not shown the sort of dominance that was on display around the streets of Singapore.
Indeed, after topping the first two practice sessions, it looks like Mercedes, and Lewis Hamilton could be the ones to stop Vettel. Despite missing out on pole position, he will still start on the front row and has a great chance of taking only his second victory of the season.
The two long straights on the opening sector of the lap often mean that the pole sitter is in the worst position.
There is something else that is in Hamilton’s favour. Statistics from the three Korean Grands Prix to date show that the pole man has never gone on to take victory. In 2010, Vettel retired with engine failure. A year later, Hamilton finished second, a performance Webber matched twelve months ago after getting the better of his team mate on Saturday.
Then there is the uncertainty surrounding the weather. While forecasts don’t look as bad as they once did earlier in the week, it looks likely that rain will be a factor on race day. The most probable outcome is for the race to begin on a wet track, with sporadic light showers later on.
If that is the case, it’ll plunge the race into a great degree of uncertainty. Aside from rain playing a part in three qualifying sessions so far this year, wet weather running has been rare, and there hasn’t been a wet race at all.
It therefore makes it difficult to predict who will be strong in damp conditions, but both Vettel and Hamilton are exceptional wet weather racers. Another driver who will be doing a rain dance will be Jenson Button. Mixed conditions may provide him with the best opportunity yet to get McLaren’s first podium of the season, despite failing to get through to Q3.
Further interest will come courtesy of Mark Webber. His progress through the field will be something to monitor. He qualified third, but will start outside the top ten due to penalty for his third reprimand of the season from the controversial “taxi ride” at Singapore.
Then of course, there is Fernando Alonso, who can’t be discounted either. The Spaniard has been making some electric starts all season and will be no doubt be making progress at the start once again tomorrow. He too will be hoping that forecast rain makes an appearance.
In dry conditions, it is unlikely that he will be able to challenge Vettel or the Mercedes cars. But, as he proved in 2010, if it wet, he’ll surely be another candidate for the victory.
A good race in prospect at one of F1’s least popular races, which should at least make the 7am race start a little more bearable.