And just when we thought hero Hamilton would save and conquer Formula One in Korea, that man does it again.
Yes. Sebastian Vettel has now made it 3 out of 3 on Saturdays in recent races, after out-shining the Mercedes duo and team-mate Mark Webber. It was close, but far from a cigar.
Here’s how it all unravelled away in Korea…
Qualifying Round 1 – Williams Fall Again
After the promise of 2012, this campaign really hasn’t been all that for the Williams team (despite the arrival of King Cool himself, #BOTTAS). However an inability to get the Pirelli rubber operating left both Valterri and Pastor Maldonado stagnant at the first hurdle, 17th and 18th respectively.
Behind it was business as usual, with Charles Pic outgunning teammate Giedo Van der Garde for 19th, and the Marussia whipping boys settling down on the back row, albeit with Max Chilton well within 3 tenths of teammate Jules Bianchi. Hoorah!
Knocked out: 17. Valterri Bottas, 18. Pastor Maldonado, 19. Charles Pic, 20. Giedo Van der Garde, 21. Jules Bianchi, and 22. Max Chilton.
Qualifying Round 2 – Mclaren suffer top 10 K.O.
Q2 saw McLaren continue their favourite trend of 2013 by being close, but not quite there.
The now mandatory flurry of lap-times lighting up the screen at the end of the session saw Fernando Alonso leave it late, Esteban Gutierrez continue his upwards trend in form, and Kimi Raikkonen (still with the “ouchie” back pain) sneak through in 10th.
At the head of the timesheets it was business as usual as Sebastian Vettel led the way from Lewis Hamilton and company, including Nico Hulkenberg who placed himself 4th, and continued another strong weekend for Sauber.
Knocked out: 11. Sergio Perez, 12. Jenson Button, 13. Daniel Ricciardo, 14. Adrian Sutil, 15. Paul Di Resta and 16. Jean-Eric Vergne.
Qualifying Round 3 – Merc vs The Bull
For the first time in a while, Q3 looked to be a genuinely close affair between the Silver Arrows of Hamilton and Rosberg, and the almost unassailable force of Vettel, and less-so Webber, in their RB9s.
The first set of lap-times saww first blood for Red Bull, with Vettel 2-tenths ahead of his stable mate, and a further tenth ahead of Hamilton. Despite all going for a second run, it was the first lap in Q3 that eventually sealed pole position for the German wonderkid, 2-tenths ahead of Hamilton who went close on his second lap, but yet again, not quite there.
With Vettel’s finger wagging in jubilation, Webber meanwhile sank ten places from third thanks to his 10-place gearbox penalty. Bugger. This promotes Grosjean from an impressive 4th to an even more impressive 3rd, and puts him in the wildcard position for tomorrow’s race.
Korean Grand Prix – Top 10 for tomorrow’s race
1. Sebastian Vettel
2. Lewis Hamilton
3. Mark Webber*
4. Romain Grosjean
5. Nico Rosberg
6. Fernando Alonso
7. Felipe Massa
8. Nico Hulkenberg
9. Esteban Gutierrez
10. Kimi Raikkonen
* Mark demoted to 13th thanks to his 10-place grid penalty.