Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso admit Red Bull will be difficult to beat in Korean GP
McLaren and Ferrari drivers staying realistic over race hopes
Last Updated: 13/10/12 11:59am
Seven days on from claiming their first front row lock-out of the season at Suzuka, World Champions Red Bull repeated the trick at the Korea International Circuit, although this time it was Mark Webber rather than Sebastian Vettel who snared the pole.
Another significant change from last weekend's qualifying result is that Hamilton and championship leader Alonso will line up directly behind the two Red Bulls on the grid, the former beating his Ferrari rival to third with his final lap of Q3 after both had earlier come perilously, and curiously, close to dropping out in the first phase.
However, despite both McLaren and Ferrari appearing to have a slight edge over the RB8's race during Friday's race simulation runs, neither of the team's lead runners appeared overly optimistic of beating the Red Bulls after qualifying.
Hamilton, who realistically needs a victory to stay in serious title contention, admitted that Red Bull had made a step ahead of McLaren in recent weeks, although did express optimism that the red and blue cars at least wouldn't run and hide on Sunday.
"It's going to be very tough to get ahead of them," Lewis told Sky Sports F1.
"But we've put ourselves in as good a position as we could. It was very tough this weekend, clearly these guys have made quite a big step in the last two races and we've just got to keep pushing.
"We're not far off and the race pace for Jenson looked quite good yesterday. I'm just happy I got a clear lap and was able to put it as high up as possible."
Having taken on the super-softs to little avail in Q1, Championship leader Alonso suddenly upped his pace from Q2 and provisionally held a front-row starting spot after the first runs in the final run-off.
He ultimately dropped behind both Webber and Hamilton to fourth but expressed satisfaction with Ferrari's clear single-lap step forward.
"I'm happy. Seven days ago in Suzuka we were P6 and P11 as a team so definitely we did improve a little bit this weekend," the Spaniard said.
"But we are still missing a little bit of pace, compared especially to Red Bull who were again very dominant, but we will see tomorrow. Normally on Sunday we are a little bit better so starting fourth hopefully we can do a good race."
But asked by Sky Sports F1's Natalie Pinkham what it would take to take on the Red Bulls, Alonso suggested that it was Ferrari's team work and strategy calls, rather than outright pace, that would make the difference.
"To have a perfect race as usual. I think they have a very strong point in their advantage, which is the car performance, but we have a very strong point advantage that is the team," he replied.
"We are very united, we are together, we believe in ourselves and in the race and at the start, the strategies, the tyre management. there are many things and on that aspect. I think we are the strongest."