Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren will be on the second row, alongside Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, who leads the drivers’ championship by four points over Vettel — in South Korea on the back of successive victories.
Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus was fifth-fastest, followed by Alonso’s Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa. They were ahead of the Lotus of Romain Grosjean and Nico Hulkenberg of Sahara Force India.
The Mercedes duo of Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher rounded out the Top 10 at a dry but cool Yeongam. A notable absentee from the top 10 shootout was Jenson Button of McLaren, who bowed out in the second qualifying session, along with the Sauber duo of Sergio Perez and Kamui Kobayashi, who was third last week in his native Japan.
Vettel was quickest in the final practice and in the first two sessions of qualifying. He appeared set for pole until Webber left it late in the session to steam home in one minute 37.242 seconds, just 0.074 seconds ahead.
“Very, very happy to get the job done,” said Webber, who started on pole at Monaco in May, but only after Schumacher was relegated five places on the grid for an incident in Barcelona. Webber won in Monaco, as he did at the British GP.
Force India in Top 10
Meanwhile, Sahara Force India’s Hulkenberg, will start eighth admitted it was a tough qualifying session. “It was not an easy session, but in the end, everything went to plan.
I did struggle in Q1 and Q2, and I’ve been fighting some understeer in the car all weekend, especially through the first sector,” said Hulkenberg, whose teammate, Paul di Resta, will line up at 14th on the grid.