FORMULA ONE / Alonso starts fourth, next to Hamilton
Australian Mark Webber seized pole position for the South Korean Formula One Grand Prix on Saturday with title-chasing Red Bull teammate Sebastian Vettel having to settle for second place on the starting grid.
Ferrari’s championship leader Fernando Alonso qualified fourth and will share the second row with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.
Alonso leads double World champion Vettel by four points with five races, including Sunday’s, remaining this season. Webber is 60 points off the lead. “The target was to start from the second or third row at least and we have. Now we focus on the race,” said Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali.
The pole was Webber’s first proper one of the season, although he also started from the top slot in Monaco after Mercedes’ Michael Schumacher was demoted five places, and it was a surprise after Vettel had dominated practice.
“We have a pretty handy car around here, for sure,” said Webber after Red Bull’s second front row lockout in two races.200th pole
The pole was also the 200th for a Renault engine in Formula One. Ferrari is the only other engine maker to have achieved the feat.
Vettel had been comfortably fastest in both the first two parts of qualifying but missed out right at the end when he was surprised to find Ferrari’s Felipe Massa still on the track ahead of him.
In an eventful qualifying session, Hamilton had to take avoiding action in the pitlane when Mercedes released Michael Schumacher into his path after he had left the garage in the final phase. Mercedes was fined 10,000 euros ($13,000) for the unsafe release.
Starting grid: First row: Mark Webber (Red Bull), Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull); Second: Lewis Hamilton (McLaren), Fernando Alonso (Ferrari); Third: Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), Felipe Massa (Ferrari); Fourth: Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Nico Hulkenberg (Force India); Fifth: Nico Rosberg (Mercedes), Michael Schumacher (Mercedes).