Lewis Hamilton excited by Korean GP chances against Vettel

By Andrew BensonChief F1 writer
Vettel beats Hamilton to pole in Korea

Lewis Hamilton said he was "excited" about his chances in the Korean Grand Prix after qualifying second to Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel.

He said he believes Mercedes had "closed up a little bit" the gap to Red Bull, for whom Vettel has won the last three races from pole position.

Hamilton added that he was hoping Korea's long straights would enable him to try to pass Vettel at the start.

"I actually feel quite comfortable with the position I'm in," Hamilton said.

"Pole is not the easiest here because you have two long, long straights [at the start of the lap], so it's very easy to be slipstreamed.

Sebastian Vettel's pole lap in Korea

"I'm hoping to maintain position and then use the slipstream to my advantage for once."

Hamilton qualified on pole in Korea last year but lost the lead to Vettel on the first lap in exactly the manner he is hoping to use to his advantage in the race.

"I came into this weekend knowing those guys have an advantage and to be as close as I am and as high as I am, I'm really happy.

"I just have to make sure I get a good start and position myself as well as possible, and when there's a gap, I'm going for it."

There is the possibility of rain on Sunday as the south-western tip of Korea catches the very edge of the tropical storm Fitow.

"The car is good in either condition," he said. "I'm excited whatever the case. It would be nice to start dry."

Vettel said: "I don't really mind. It's not a disaster if it starts to rain.

"Same as usual. We have rain tyres in the garage, but obviously they're talking about heavy wind.

"To be honest I arrived on Wednesday and it was very, very windy.

"Since then the wind seems to have died down and I think the typhoon has changed direction.

"I think the race should be fine in terms of conditions - whether it is dry or wet. If we get some of the rain from the typhoon isn't 100% clear at the moment but, as I said, it doesn't matter."

Rain for race day?

Vettel's team-mate Mark Webber qualified third but drops to 13th as a result of a grid penalty for accepting a lift after the last race in Singapore from Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in what stewards deemed a dangerous position.

That promotes Lotus's Romain Grosjean to third. The Frenchman is confident of challenging at the front.

"The race will be very open," Grosjean said. "We saved as many tyres as we could. Sebastian is going to be very quick unfortunately. I am going to do my best and we will see what we can get."