Yeongam, South Korea – McLaren's Lewis Hamilton will start from the pole in tomorrow's Formula One Korean Grand Prix after pulling off the upset victory at the Korea International Circuit. It was the first time in 16 tries this season that the Red Bull team failed to win the pole.
Hamilton won the top spot with a time of one minute, 35.820 seconds around the 3.49-mile, 18-turn road course. He edged out 2011 World Champion Sebastian Vettel who had started on the pole 12 times this season. Vettel's teammate Mark Webber won the other three times.
Hamilton and McLaren had been strong all weekend and was fastest in the final practice but needed every bit of speed they could muster to break Red Bull's winning streak.
Hamilton beat Vettel in the final practice by over half a second, but the margin was just fourth-tenths of a second in Q1. In the last session with the pole victory on the line, Hamilton posted a quick time then improved on it with Vettel still on the track behind him. Vettel tried his best, but fell .222 seconds short of the win.
It was Hamilton's first pole win since June 2010 at the Canadian Grand Prix though it will be his seventh time on the front row this year.
"I'm happy to be here and very proud of what the team has been able to achieve over the course of the last few races," said Hamilton in the interview room. "However, tomorrow is the day that really counts."
"To be honest I think McLaren was very competitive yesterday, said two-time world champion Vettel. "You could see that they were a fair chunk ahead of everyone else including us.
"We saved all our prime tires, continued Vettel. "It's a long race, a lot of things can happen and tire wear will be crucial."
"Congratulations to Lewis for getting the pole, he's been pretty quick all weekend," said Jenson Button, Hamilton's teammate at McLaren. Button will start third with Webber in row two.
Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher failed to get out of Q2 and will begin the race from the 12th position.
The 55-lap Korean Grand Prix is set for tomorrow at 2:00 am (et).