2013 Korean Grand Prix Preview

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The Korean Grand Prix is a race that is loved by few, yet it still marks an important stepping stone in the course of the 2013 Formula One world championship. Sebastian Vettel is simply checking off the races en route to title number four, with our latest prediction suggesting that the Indian Grand Prix is the most likely location for his coronation. His track record in Korea is nothing short of staggering, leading 93% of laps at the circuit. Having won the last three races in 2013 and the last two Korean Grand Prix, can anybody really stop Seb on Sunday?

Korean Grand Prix Talking Points

Typhoon Fitow to rain on Vettel’s parade?

Perhaps it will be an act of God that stops Vettel from making it four-in-a-row. Typhoon Fitow is rapidly moving northwards towards the Korean penninsula, but latest reports suggest that Yeongam will be spared the brunt of the storm. However, with any kind of precipitation in the area, a well-taken gamble could play into the hands of the group chasing Vettel – or act to widen the gap to the German driver.

Mercedes look to bounce back from disappointing run

After an indifferent run of form that has seen all embers of Mercedes’ title charge die out in the past few races, the Silver Arrows are looking to bounce back in Korea with a raft of aerodynamic updates to the W04 car. Quite whether it will be enough to overthrow Red Bull at the top of the timesheets remains to be seen, but both Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will be hoping to respond in the best possible fashion to their Singapore disappointment.

The battle for P2 hots up…

This constructors’ championship is Red Bull’s just as the drivers’ title belongs to Sebastian Vettel. However, the more interesting battle shaping up is for second place in the teams’ standings. Ferrari and Mercedes are separated by just seven points, and with six races to go, it appears this battle could be set to rumble on to Interlagos. Can the combined effort of Hamilton and Rosberg better that of Alonso and the dwindling Massa? A wet race in Korea would certainly give both teams the chance to create a gap that could prove pivotal come the end of the season.

…but have Ferrari already thrown in the towel?

With the title race effectively over, Ferrari appear to already be turning their attention to 2014 by running some parts for next season’s car in Korea. Technical director Pat Fry explained: “There will be some small development bits we can run during this year’s remaining free practice, looking more on the reliability front than anything else, which means we have busy Fridays planned for the next six races.” Given the team’s problems with upgrades so far this season, switching focus could only hinder the pace of the F138 further.

Stat attack

Following on from our regular feature looking at the notable statistics spurning from each grand prix, here are a few nuggets of information heading into the race weekend:

  • As previously mentioned, Vettel has led 93% of all laps at the Korean GP (or 153/165), winning the race twice.
  • Fernando Alonso is the only other man to have led the race, winning the event in 2010.
  • There have been five safety cars in the three previous races at Yeongam.
  • The pole sitter has never won the race, with Vettel starting from P2 in 2011 and 2012.
  • In last year’s race, there were just 34 overtakes as Red Bull romped home to a one-two finish.

Track: Korean International Circuit
Laps: 55
Corners: 18
Lap Record: Sebastian Vettel 1:39.605 (2011)
Tire Compounds: Super-soft (Option); Medium (Prime)
2012 Winner: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
2012 Pole Position: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:37.242
2012 Fastest Lap: Mark Webber (Red Bull) 1:42.037
DRS Zones: Main Straight (T18 to T1); T2 to T3

Friday – Free Practice 1: 21:00pm ET (Thursday)
Friday – Free Practice 2: 01:00am ET (LIVE on NBCSN)
Saturday – Free Practice 3: 22:00pm ET (Friday)
Saturday – Qualifying: 01:00am ET (LIVE on NBCSN)
Sunday – Race: 02:00am ET (LIVE on NBCSN)

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
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IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10-3 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 7 p.m. to USA Network. Peacock will have flag-to-flag coverage.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III