Hamilton ends Red Bull’s pole position domination

2011 Korean GP qualifying

Jenson Button, Lewis Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel, Korea, 2011

Hamilton starts ahead of Vettel and Button on the grid

Lewis Hamilton ended Red Bull’s monopoly on pole position in 2011 by beating Sebastian Vettel in qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver was fastest in all three parts of qualifying on his way to pole.

He shares the front row of the grid with Vettel and their team mates line up behind them.


Hamilton was the quickest driver in the first part of qualifying, setting a time of 1’37.525 on soft tyres.

Unusually the Red Bull drivers used a set of super soft tyres for their first runs, but appeared not to push them too hard as they secured their places in Q2. Christian Horner later said they had driven to a target lap time.

Both Williams drivers stayed in the pits until the final five minutes. When they came out, Rubens Barrichello was initially faster than Pastor Maldonado, the latter falling at risk of elimination.

They had enough time for a final run each. But Barrichello abandoned his attempt at improvement, feeling the tyres had gone off, and Maldonado’s 1’39.436 was enough to knock his team mate out.

Heikki Kovalainen was the quicker of the two Lotus drivers, who line up in front of the two Virgins.

Daniel Ricciardo did not set a time due to a technical problem and will need permission from the stewards to start the race.

Drivers eliminated in Q1

18 Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 1’39.538
19 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 1’40.522
20 Jarno Trulli Lotus-Renault 1’41.101
21 Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 1’42.091
22 Jerome d’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth 1’43.483
23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 1’43.758
24 Daniel Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth


Hamilton stayed on top in the second part of qualifying, lapping almost exactly one second on super softs than he had on softs in the first session.

Vettel could only get within seven-tenths of Hamilton’s time, which put him second.

Michael Schumacher only did a single lap and although he had the track to himself his 1’38.354 was ultimately not good enough to get him into Q3. He complained of a vibration on his car before starting the lap.

It put him ninth but later improvements from Adrian Sutil, Jaime Alguersauri and Paul di Resta left him out of the top ten.

Both Force India drivers secured places in Q3 but Alguersuari was eliminated along with his team mate. So were the two Sauber drivers.

They were joined by Maldonado and Bruno Senna.

Drivers eliminated in Q2

11 Jaime Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.315
12 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1’38.354
13 Sebastien Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1’38.508
14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1’38.775
15 Bruno Senna Renault 1’38.791
16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 1’39.109
17 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1’39.443


Eight cars went out as Q3 began, both Force India drivers holding back in the pits.

Hamilton picked up where he left off in Q2, heading the times with a 1’36.130, his McLaren looking stable and changing direction beautifully in the fast sweeps of turns seven, eight and nine.

But Vettel was threatening – the Red Bull driver crossed the line just three-hundredths of a second off Hamilton’s mark.

Webber led the cars out for their final efforts, the front runners taking care not to end up missing their last chances as they did in Suzuka. Hamilton delivered a clean lap to lower the fastest time to a 1’35.820.

Vettel had to pass Di Resta during his lap but did not appear to be delayed by the Force India. He improved his time but, fell short of beating Hamiton by two tenths of a second.

Webber had a poor final run and Button took advantage to claim third on the grid. The Ferraris share the third row, Massa ahead of Alonso.

Top ten in Q3

1 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1’35.820
2 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1’36.042
3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1’36.126
4 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1’36.468
5 Felipe Massa Ferrari 1’36.831
6 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1’36.980
7 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1’37.754
8 Vitaly Petrov Renault 1’38.124
9 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
10 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes

2011 Korean Grand Prix

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171 comments on Hamilton ends Red Bull’s pole position domination

  1. BBT (@bbt) said on 15th October 2011, 11:21

    Nice to see someone other than the RBRs on pole, it was always likely to be Hamilton that ended their run it wasn’t it?

    Hamilton’s emotionless reaction (a part for seeming unhappy) took a bit of a gloss of it but then really who could blame him. He said yesterday (or Thursday) even a win here wouldn’t put things right, so it is not surprising that he’s not smiling from ear to ear. Its not even half the job done, maybe he’s concerned about RBRs different strategy, maybe its because he’s finally done it when it doesn’t matter for this season or maybe its just indicative of the very low place he’s in at the moment. Hopefully a win tomorrow and we’ll see a better reaction but it might take one or two, it might even take the new championship before we see smiles again. I’m not a Hamilton fan but I do like to see drivers with his do or die style and it is sad to see any driver down especially after putting some great laps in.

    Alonso wasn’t happy either, maybe its the Korean air or post championship won hangover for everyone.

  2. It’s finally nice to see Lewis on pole position after what he’s gone through this season. I really feel for him and as for today. What a lap! He nailed almost every corner and apex. He seems to have his mojo back and when his mojo’s back then he’s almost unstoppable. I think he’ll win the race if he stays out in front and keeps out of trouble.

  3. Jason6 said on 15th October 2011, 14:47

    Everyone knows Lewis is just the best out there. But they pretend they don’t :-)

  4. Trenthamfolk (@trenthamfolk) said on 15th October 2011, 15:01

    OK, I was drunk last night so have just watched Quali online… I’m so pleased for Hammy, perhaps this will quieten the Hamilton Haters down a bit. An amazing drive from one of the best in the world. It’s also great to see Seb in 2nd, he can always pull it out of the bag, and my man, Button, in third…

    A special mention goes to doormat Massa for out-qualifying chin man, AGAIN… Fernando won’t be happy! I guess Massa will be forced to retire on the 1st lap tomorrow, then write “I love Fernando” a thousand times as a punishment…

    • SundarF1 (@sundarf1) said on 15th October 2011, 15:40

      Massa has outpaced Alonso in qualifying for the second race in a row, yes, but Fernando was testing a new front wing, he made a mistake in the first sector, and he probably has his car optimised for the race. Remember Suzuka? He was beaten by Massa after he abandoned the final run, but his gearing for the race was spot-on, and he was able to keep Vettel behind and hunt down Jenson. One could hardly cite an example where Massa has been that clever, quick, prudent or reliable this year.

      • Trenthamfolk (@trenthamfolk) said on 15th October 2011, 16:46

        I agree… apart from the ‘probably has his car optimised for the race’ part… that’s just an excuse for eyebrows being rubbish today. I know you love him and all that, but honestly…

        Anyway, it doesn’t really matter, because Massa will just pull over and let him drive past, AGAIN. Every time Massa pulls over, Alonso discredits himself and belittles his racing credentials. If he were a better driver, he’d overtake, like a real racing driver.

  5. The Limit said on 15th October 2011, 15:39

    Good job by Hamilton. Lets hope all the negative stuff can be put to rest with a grands prix win tomorrow, Lewis needs it! Personally I hope McLaren can put a string of results together to finish 2011 on a high, and to take onwards into 2012.

  6. Hamilton is not beaming because he is a perfectionist and highly competitive. It’s called keeping your head down and working. Anyway, what is the point of saying anything when the parsing of your comments has been industrialized? Post session on Speed, Will Buxton, MD., presented a paper on the psychological pathology of patient H to close out the show. He should keep perspective because if he wins a couple more races, and continues to dominate Button in qualifying, only a gallon of haterade will permit someone to maintain that he has “lost it.” Anyone who thinks he can’t bounce back because of recent results to flip back to last year and this track and see how pathetically off the pace Button was. Now look at him.

    This pole has some momentous characteristics that will make him happier in retrospect. First, it comes in downpour of criticism, and stems another onslaught of hysterical press. Second, it comes after two consecutive races where he doesn’t even get a second Q3 lap in, thanks, in part, to team bumbling. Third, he is first man to pull Excalibur from the stone this year, and it was not because Vettel had some problem, besides a lingering hangover. He beat him with sheer speed. Fourth, his pole blocks RBR from being the first team to achieve 16 poles in a year, defending this important superlative owned by McLaren and Williams. In an era where McLaren has not been able to add much to its trophy shelf, thwarting the fizzy drinks company from stealing another bit of its legacy was priceless. I’m sure Dennis will send Hamilton a fruit basket for that one.

  7. can someone enlighten be and tell me why DiResta is ahead of Sutil in qualifying? Diresta is faster than Sutil in Q1 but Sutil is faster in Q2. So shouldnt Sutil be ahead, or am I omitting some kind of rule?


  8. Schumacherisboss (@schumacherisboss) said on 15th October 2011, 18:07


  9. verstappen (@verstappen) said on 15th October 2011, 18:15

    Stunning lap from Lewis!
    As some other people above here observed as well, I think hè was genuinly overcome with emotion. But I guess hè tried to hide it. In pressconference da interviewer saw through it: ‘you’re just taking it all in’ but chose to not grill Hamilton. I think if hè done that, Lewis would’ve cried.

  10. STSCM (@stscm) said on 15th October 2011, 19:08

    After seeing the pictures of Lewis after the pole run, and reading about his actions, I can’t help but get the feeling that this is a young man who has made a ‘momentous’ decision. What it is God knows. I can see his actions after winning the WDC as being overcome with emotion, not this.

  11. abigail said on 15th October 2011, 20:38

    it would be fascinating to get an insite into lewis’s state of mind. He sure is very focused for tomorrows race, but he won before with a smile on his face. Is he may be too focused. That can’t be good.
    How is his relationship with nicole going? Is he calm about it?
    How is he coping with his teammate recent sucess?
    There are so many questions. And he is defenetly facing the race tomorrow with a different attitude.
    We’ll see if it works.

  12. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 15th October 2011, 20:52

    A good qualifying session, I enjoyed it. Pity I fell asleep a couple of times but that’s by no means a reflection on the quality of the session!

    I’m not gonna say that it’s nice to see something other than an RB7 on pole. I am going to say that it’s nice to see an utterly brilliant pole lap, irrespective of who bagged it.

  13. Go Lewis we are waiting for this and McLarens’ 1-2 all season.

  14. Mild7nick (@mild7nick) said on 15th October 2011, 21:11

    Holly Samos said on twitter today that she had been told by someone in the paddock that Hamilton has some personal issues, seems he isnt prepared to share whatever it is with the press at this time.

    On a sidenote it seems a long time since Nicole was at a race.

    Hope he wins tomorrow, might silence some of the Jenson fanboys on here for a couple of days at least

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th October 2011, 21:53

      @mild7nick Don’t see why you feel the need to have a pop at Button’s fans.

      • Mild7nick (@mild7nick) said on 15th October 2011, 21:58

        Let me quantify my comment keith, I do not mean all Jenson fans for I acknowledge most are balanced in their opinions but there seems to have been an abundance of “fanboys” of late who have taken great pleasure in the plight of Lewis Hamilton. I cannot understand how one can take pleasure in the plight of any driver let alone a British one who in his short time in F1 has already delivered plenty of entertainment value.
        I appreciate the talents of all the drivers on the grid including Jenson but some of the comments on here and elsewhere of late have been little more than kicking someone whilst they are down.

        Lewis may not be everyones cup of tea I admit but its sad that some take the pleasure they do in constantly bashing him

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th October 2011, 22:21

          @Mild7nick Well I say rise above it, don’t lower yourself to their level. I thought the rest of your comment was very interesting but the last line a bit unnecessary (sorry if that sounds patronising, it’s not meant to).

          • Mild7nick (@mild7nick) said on 15th October 2011, 22:27

            point taken, should have just said silence his critics.

            I just think its a shame when such a great driver is in such a dark place, I hope he finds himself during the winter and comes back stronger next year.

            His season reminds of Damon Hill’s in 95, Damon made a lot of errors but did some soul searching in the off season and came back a better driver than he had ever been before in 96. I think he could help Lewis

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th October 2011, 22:32


            I think the comparison with Hill is a good one. He made one mistake after the other that year. But then look how strong he was in ’96.

            I still come back to what I wrote in the article I did on this a couple of weeks ago:

            At the end of last year Hamilton spoke of looking forward to a better season having put problems in his personal life behind him. Whatever he’s changed it doesn’t seem to have had the desired effect.

            What’s gone wrong for Lewis Hamilton in 2011?

            Maybe that’s not it, but there’s clearly a lot more going on here than what we can tell from the outside.

        • uan (@uan) said on 15th October 2011, 23:54

          Well I think it’s a case of what goes around comes around. Jenson fans have had to put up with a lot of flak that JB is a mediocre driver that lucked into a WDC and can’t compare at all with Hamilton. In fact, Vettel fans have had to put up with Hamilton fans saying that he’s not in Lewis’s league, etc.

          There are always going to be “fanboys”, and objectively, I think Hamilton fanboys are the most vocal of the lot.

          I stopped watching/following F1 for a while during Schumacher’s 5 year run with Ferrari, in part because of the dominance, and in part because it was hard to get access to good race coverage. I started again last year and didn’t have any real favorites. I also didn’t have massive preconceptions of the different drivers. It was interesting the narratives the BBC guys had, and on some of the forums. Very pro-Lewis, very down on Vettel.

          Vettel crashes, he’s the “Crash Kid”, Hamilton crashes and he’s “a racer going for a gap”. Stuff like that. And poor Button, just a journeyman who got lucky and can’t win except in changeable conditions (until Japan). Even in the BBC forum after the race in Japan they said to Jenson that this was his first win in the dry and he had to correct them to say he’d won many races in the dry (in 2009). How irritating that must be for Button.

          I don’t think some of Lewis’s more ardent fans really understand how lopsided it feels to non-Lewis fans. The truth is Lewis is a phenomenal driver (I’ve been rewatching the 2008 season), but so is Vettel, Alonso and even Button. And they are all pretty likable. Even Schumacher is likable :-)

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