Yeongam, South Korea: Lewis Hamilton believes his Mercedes team may finally be closing the gap on the rampaging Red Bulls after the Briton qualified second on Saturday for the Korean Grand Prix.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel is storming away with the drivers’ championship and his team are also romping clear in the constructors’ table.
Vettel underlined his supremacy by taking pole position for Sunday’s race, while team-mate Mark Webber was third quickest, though he starts 13th on the grid because of a penalty.
Hamilton, in his debut season with Mercedes after defecting from McLaren, sees strong signs for encouragement.
“I’m really happy with second position today as it felt like I got everything out of the car today,” said the 2008 world champion, who will line up alongside Vettel on the grid.
“The guys have done a great job to get the package as it is here. We came into the weekend knowing that Red Bull had an advantage, so to be as close as I am in terms of performance is a real positive.
“Hopefully we have closed the gap a little bit. Our long-run pace yesterday looked good and pretty close to theirs but there will be threats all around us in tomorrow’s race.
“A couple of years ago, I was on pole and Seb (Vettel) got past me at the start, so I’d like to repay him on that one.
“I need to make sure we get a good start, position the car as well as possible and when there’s a gap, I’ll be going for it.”
There is a chance of rain at the Yeongam circuit on Sunday, but Hamilton, like his rival Vettel, is taking it in his stride.
“We know that the weather will change a bit for tomorrow and I don’t mind how it turns out. I’d prefer dry conditions but we’ll see what the day brings and roll with it,” he said.
Starting grid for Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix after qualifying on Saturday:
Sebastian Vettel (GER/Red Bull-Renault)
Lewis Hamilton (GBR/Mercedes)
Romain Grosjean (FRA/Lotus-Renault)
Nico Rosberg (GER/Mercedes)
Fernando Alonso (ESP/Ferrari)
Felipe Massa (BRA/Ferrari)
Nico Hulkenberg (GER/Sauber-Ferrari)
Esteban Gutierrez (MEX/Sauber-Ferrari)
Kimi Raikkonen (FIN/Lotus-Renault)
Sergio Perez (MEX/McLaren-Mercedes)
Jenson Button (GBR/McLaren-Mercedes)
Daniel Ricciardo (AUS/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Mark Webber (AUS/Red Bull-Renault)
Adrian Sutil (GER/Force India-Mercedes)
Paul di Resta (GBR/Force India-Mercedes)
Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA/Toro Rosso-Ferrari)
Valtteri Bottas (FIN/Williams-Renault)
Pastor Maldonado (VEN/Williams-Renault)
Charles Pic (FRA/Caterham-Renault)
Giedo van der Garde (NED/Caterham-Renault)
Max Chilton (GBR/Marussia-Cosworth)
Jules Bianchi (FRA/Marussia-Cosworth)
Note: Webber qualified third but is relegated to 13th because of 10-place grid penalty. Bianchi drops one place to last because of penalty