Sebastian Vettel secured his third successive pole position after setting the fastest time during qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix.
Vettel’s time of 1:37.202 was two tenths of a second faster than Mercedes’s Lewis Hamilton.
“It was fairly close, I had a very good lap in Q3 at the first attempt, fortunately it was good enough,” said Vettel. “It’s a tight battle, very surprised to see we are good in sector one and we are competitive down the straights, which is helpful for the race. ”
“We improved the car from yesterday so all in all, we can be very happy with what we’ve achieved.”
“We did as good a job we could,” added Hamilton. “I got everything out of the car. Hopefully I can fight with them tomorrow.”
Mark Webber was third, but will drop to thirteenth place as a result of his 10 place penalty for sustaining three reprimands this season.
“We had to compromise qualifying a bit more for the race,” said the Australian. “I could be eleventh instead of thirteenth, it was pretty tight and a good little battle. I’m out of the position but I’ll fight to come back through.”
Webber’s penalty promotes Romain Grosjean to third place, ahead of Nico Rosberg and Fernando Alonso.
Felipe Massa will start from sixth, while both Sauber drivers progressed through to Q3 for the first time in 2013. Nico Hulkenberg will start from seventh place, with Esteban Gutierrez achieving his best grid slot in eighth.
Kimi Raikkonen struggled with the front left of his Lotus and could manage only ninth.
“I made a mistake and the lap was gone,” he said.
Sergio Perez edged out McLaren team-mate Jenson Button by three thousandths of a second, and they will start just ahead of the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo.
Adrian Sutil will start from fourteenth place, with Paul di Resta in fifteenth. The Brit complained of being held up by Marussia’s Jules Bianchi in Q1 but progressed nonetheless.
Jean-Eric Vergne was sixteenth but neither Williams drivers made it past Q1; Valtteri Bottas was seventeenth and Pastor Maldonado eighteenth.
Charles Pic beat Caterham team-mate Giedo van der Garde by seven thousandths of a second, while Bianchi eclipsed Max Chilton by a tenth and a half.