F1 2012 Korean Grand Prix qualifying: Hamilton faces tough battle

PUBLISHED: 21:41 12 October 2012 | UPDATED: 15:53 13 October 2012

Lewis Hamilton ahead of the Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

Lewis Hamilton ahead of the Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

HOCH ZWEI

FORMULA 1 star Lewis Hamilton battles for pole position in qualifying for the 2012 Korean Grand Prix tomorrow (Saturday) but faces a tough fight in securing a good grid position.

The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver from Hertfordshire struggled in second practice at the Korea International Circuit.

Hamilton was baffled by his lack of pack in FP2, as the Red Bulls of reigning F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel and teammate Mark Webber topped the timesheets at Yeongam.

“I struggled a little bit with set-up today [Friday],” admitted Hamilton, who is quitting McLaren for German rivals Mercedes GP next season.

“So now we’ll work hard to figure out what direction we want to take.”

Korean Grand Prix facts

* Race distance: 55 laps (191.783 miles/308.630km)

* Start time: 5.00 (local)/07.00 BST

* Circuit length: 3.489 miles/5.615km

* 2011 winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) 55 laps in 1hr 38m 01.994s

* 2011 pole: Lewis Hamilton (Vodafone McLaren Mercedes) 1m 35.820s

* Lap record: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull RB7) 1m 39.605s (202.941km/h)

McLaren teammate Jenson Button was fourth fastest in second practice, giving 2008 world champion Hamilton a glimmer of hope for Saturday’s qualifying session and Sunday’s grand prix.

“The Red Bulls look pretty quick, but Jenson [Button] wasn’t that far off their pace this afternoon. So that’s good,” said Hamilton.

“We’ll make some changes to the balance overnight, and hopefully we’ll be in better shape for tomorrow.

“As I say, this afternoon Jenson showed that our car has pace; all we need to do is fully extract it. If we can improve the balance overnight, I think we can be competitive.”

Lewis Hamilton’s Korea record

* 2011: Q1, R2

* 2010: Q4, R2

Button added: “At the moment, it doesn’t look like we’re quite as quick as the Red Bulls – who’ll probably be quite difficult to beat in qualifying – but our race lap-times and consistency both look good.

“I think the track has done most of its evolution already today – it’s not going to re-set tomorrow – so the adjustments we’ve been making are looking positive. And there’s still more to come.”

Martin Whitmarsh, the team principal of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, feels the team have made “a solid start” to the weekend but there’s work still to be done to challenge for front-row starts in qualifying.

He said: “As always, the sharp end of the field looks extremely competitive, so the remainder of the weekend will be all about trying to maximise the slightest competitive advantage.

Lewis Hamilton on track ahead of the Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]Lewis Hamilton on track ahead of the Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam [Picture: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes]

“There’s still work to be done, but our engineers and mechanics will doubtless rise to the challenge.

“We’re in the thick of it, and we’re very much looking forward to qualifying tomorrow.”

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