Saturday 23 October 2010

Korea Qually: Red Bull pull two rabbits out of the hat at the last

Whoever devises Red Bull strategy must have nerves of steel. In a tight qualifying session in which both Red Bulls, Alonso and Hamilton looked on the pace, and just when it looked like it was Fred's pole, having improved his already P1 time on his final run, Vettel and then Webber each leapfrogged him at the very very last.

Lap times have been tumbling all weekend as the new Korean track cleans up and rubbers in, and it could be that getting their laps in last was vital to the Bulls squeaking ahead of Fred.

As expected, the Bulls lost time compared with the others in the first sector of the lap, which is dominated by long straights, before making the time back, and often more, in the twisty stuff in the remainder. The speed and challenge of the sweeps in the latter part of the Yeongam lap has pleasantly surprised everyone, especially the in the Red Bull camp you'd think, given they play utterly to their strengths.

Seb will line up on pole, with Webber but seven hundredths of second slower in P2, the Bull pilots continuing to be virtually indivisible in qually trim. But, as in Suzuka, Seb's marginal qualifying edge could be vital. Ever since his Spa performance which drew a lot of criticism, just about everything has gone right for him. His momentum has continued here.

Should the weather hold tomorrow (and some rain is forecast) a lot will depend on the first lap. Webber starts from the very dirty side of the track in P2, and the first part of the lap is characterised by a couple of lengthy straights where the Red Bulls are at an disadvantage. Fred will certainly be racy from P3 (and looked mighty in qually - eight tenths quicker than Massa) and will look to spoil the Bulls' day by getting amongst them. Though if a Red Bull is still ahead at turn 5 of lap 1 tomorrow it's hard to see what can stop them aside from the weather (or a fumble).

McLaren sounded bullish before and during qualifying, and will be rather underwhelmed with Lewis 4th (half a second down and also starting on the dirty side) and Jenson 7th (seven tenths down even on Lewis). Jenson indeed looked like his car was handling like a shopping trolley with a wonky wheel for just about all of the qually hour, and he complained about lack of heat in his tyres. He'll no doubt be doing a rain dance as we speak, otherwise his already slim championship hopes are likely to become even slimmer by the end of tomorrow.

Korea qually results on the Autosport website

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