Korean GP: Sebastian Vettel leads Lewis Hamilton in final practice

Sebastian Vettel built on his impressive Friday showing by going half a second clear in final practice for the Korean Grand Prix

Korean GP: Sebastian Vettel leads Lewis Hamilton in final practice

The German, winner of the past two grands prix in Singapore and Japan, has never started off the front row in Korea.

He gave himself the perfect chance to extend that run with a fantastic late run on the super softs, improving his own personal best several times and working his way down to a 1m37.642s.

That put him comfortably clear of the chasing pack, which was led by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton.

The Briton had been more of a match for Vettel on the softs, but was unable to match the German's improvements in the final minutes and on the red super soft compounds.

Jenson Button finished third in the second McLaren, while Lotus's Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen - the latter running with the Coanda-effect exhausts - secured fourth and fifth.

Championship leader Fernando Alonso was sixth fastest ahead of Mark Webber, who was prevented from completing a super soft run by electrical engine issues.

Ferrari's Felipe Massa, Williams's Pastor Maldonado and Force India's Nico Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10. Hulkenberg finished 1.2s down on Vettel.

The session began in understated fashion, with a dearth of on-track action once the initial round of installation laps was completed.

That situation was finally remedied 16 minutes in when Daniel Ricciardo and Kimi Raikkonen headed out.

The latter's second flyer, a 1m39.748s, kept him top while Pastor Maldonado, Nico Hulkenberg and Jean-Eric Vergne joined the fray, but he was demoted by Vettel when Red Bull emerged 24 minutes into the running.

Four minutes on Webber confirmed the team's pace by dropping the benchmark to a 1m38.766s, which would keep him top until the final 20 minutes.

At that stage Ferrari and McLaren were both yet to go out, but when they did it was with an instant impact.

The Scuderia was the first to bite, and at the session's halfway mark Alonso shot up into second.

Minutes later McLaren also joined the track, with Hamilton and then Button demoting the Spaniard. Hamilton's second effort was enough to finally relegate Webber and put the Briton top.

He was soon joined by Button, who set the fastest time in sector two en route to making it a McLaren 1-2 at the top of the charts.

That did not last long however, as Vettel shot back to the top with a 1m38.215s, around three tenths of a second faster than Hamilton.

That would be as fast as anyone achieved on the soft compound, with the majority of the field pitting for a switch to super softs shortly after Vettel set his mark.

Aside from Webber's late issue, there were relatively few issues during the 60 minutes.

Bruno Senna was urged to pit for a front wing complaint, although Williams managed to rectify the problem with a minimum of fuss, while Caterham's Vitaly Petrov was warned not to cross pedals late on.

The Russian was still able to edge out team-mate Heikki Kovalainen to finish 19th, just behind Senna.

HRT's Narain Karthikeyan meanwhile felt he had cause for complaint when baulked slightly by Sauber's Sergio Perez, an incident not dissimilar to the one which earned Michael Schumacher a Friday reprimand.

Pos Driver Team Time Laps 1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1m37.642s 17 2. Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.169s + 0.527s 12 3. Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1m38.511s + 0.869s 13 4. Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 1m38.582s + 0.940s 16 5. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault 1m38.666s + 1.024s 18 6. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 1m38.705s + 1.063s 12 7. Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 1m38.766s + 1.124s 7 8. Felipe Massa Ferrari 1m38.791s + 1.149s 13 9. Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 1m38.833s + 1.191s 16 10. Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 1m38.932s + 1.290s 17 11. Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 1m38.954s + 1.312s 17 12. Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1m39.010s + 1.368s 20 13. Michael Schumacher Mercedes 1m39.150s + 1.508s 18 14. Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 1m39.156s + 1.514s 18 15. Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 1m39.345s + 1.703s 14 16. Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.448s + 1.806s 17 17. Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 1m39.537s + 1.895s 18 18. Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 1m39.706s + 2.064s 18 19. Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 1m41.114s + 3.472s 14 20. Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 1m41.437s + 3.795s 19 21. Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 1m41.684s + 4.042s 16 22. Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 1m42.062s + 4.420s 15 23. Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 1m42.845s + 5.203s 15 24. Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 1m42.882s + 5.240s 14 All Timing Unofficial 
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