Korean GP qualifying report

Posted by Michael Harvey at 02:56 am on Sunday October 06, 2013

You might have seen on Twitter an exchange between Messrs Clarkson and Brundle. Jeremy, on hearing the news that Sebastian Vettel will start tomorrow’s Korean GP, once again, on pole position suggested it meant another dreary Grand Prix.

Brundle came back pointing out that if you want to win in Yeognam, pole is no place to start from, though personally it’s hard to understand how it might be any impediment. Martin was clutching at straws, as indeed we all are as the 2013 championship — the last with big, noisy, unencumbered V8 engines for the foreseeable future, probably ever — strolls somnambulantly to its oh-so predictable conclusion.

Lewis Hamilton, who’s high spirits and high speed had promised so much yesterday could do nothing about Vettel’s first quick lap in Q3 and for the second shoot-out on the trot, the champion-elect didn’t have to bother with a second. Mark Webber raised his own spirits to post the third quickest time, but that penalty for the ride on Alonso’s F138 in Singapore means he’ll start 13th. That one still sticks in the craw here. With really nothing to lose it would have been great to have seen Webber start behind his team ‘mate’.

Instead it will be Romain Grosjean — who could have been the hero in Singapore and gets another chance to be so tomorrow. To be fair to Martin Brundle, the Lotus and Mercedes cars showed more than outright pace yesterday and looked competitive with the Red Bulls in what smarts like Gary Anderson could divine from yesterday’s race simulations.

Grosjean is impressing the Sunday Afternoon Club right now and seems to be repaying Eric Boulier’s faith. Team mate Räikkonen, who went off heavily yesterday claiming he’d run out of talent, found himself short again today and could only take the last of the Q3 slots. Is this just Kimi’s back playing up or are we starting to get a better idea of his relative speed, now Grosjean has found his beat? Either way, it has to question Ferrari’s decision to ignore the young guns.

Ah yes, our favourite Nico Hulkenberg, again in Q3, eighth this time and just ahead of Esteban Gutierrez who, late in the season is starting to show the right stuff. Whether it’s the swarm of drivers hovering around the team looking for a 2014 seat or whether it’s the team itself, Gutierrez looks like a name we will have to add to the spell checker after all.

Sauber’s two cars in Q3 meant there was no room for McLaren. Want does this say? That Sauber are now better at developing its cars in season than McLaren? That McLaren really has given up for this year? Or that the MP4-28 really is a donkey and has been flattered  all season long by Jenson and Checo? McLaren don’t seem to think so, and while suggesting the noise its making about big name signings in the technical teams means it’s standing behind its drivers, we reckon a major shake up is on its way. We’re starting to feel a bit sorry for JB and Checo.

Over at Ferrari with the balance restored (Alonso starts sixth ahead of Massa), there’s a similar sense of resignation that only a major overhaul can bring back the glory. At least this time Alonso is saving his bile for Pirelli and not the team, but for a man who takes pride in his Samurai’s stoicism, he’s becoming rather to eager to vent. And you can’t blame him when his team, like all the others just can’t seem to deal with Red Bull. And in a time where the regulations should be stymying Newey’s genius?

So is Jezza right? Is it worth throwing away one of the year’s last Sunday mornings under the summer duvet? Yeah, of course it is. This is F1. Like all sports it will have times when an individual, a team or both will find a groove totally apart from the others. I’m not saying it will happen tomorrow, but there will come a time when the narrative changes, and you’d hate to not be there when it does.

Oh, forgot to say, F1 website is showing a little graphic of a thunderstorm in the slot reserved for tomorrows race weather…

TAGS// f1, formula one, korean gp

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