Lewis Hamilton finally broke the Red Bull domination of pole positions that stretches all the way back to the end of the 2010 season, putting McLaren in front going into Sunday's F1 Grand Prix at Yeongam.
Hamilton had shone throughout all three parts of Saturday qualifying for the second running of the Korean Grand Prix, consistently popping to the top of the timesheets throughout the three sessions and only coming under pressure when Sebastian Vettel came to life in Q3 and pressed him hard for pole position.
The session saw a flurry of fast lap attempts in the final two minutes from the top eight cars, who as a result were bunched up on the track and struggling to find room to do their best work. When Mark Webber had a poor middle section and pulled into pit road, it left a clear path to the chequered flag for Hamilton who improved his leading time by three-tenths of a second.
It proved to be a vital lap, as Vettel closed to within just 0.232s of his time just seconds later - still more than enough to put him ahead of Jenson Button, who himself managed to pip Webber for for second row supremacy with his own last lap of the day.
It was the first time that a Red Bull has not been in pole position since Nico Hulkenberg took the top spot for Williams in Brazil in November 2010. It means that Red Bull's bid for a record 16th pole in a single season will have to wait at least one more Grand Prix.
The two Ferrari cars looked to be struggling with loose handling for much of qualifying. Felipe Massa managed to edge his team mate Fernando Alonso for fifth position and both were comfortably ahead of Nico Rosberg, Vitaly Petrov and the Force India duo of Paul di Resta and Adrian Sutil in ninth and tenth, neither of whom posted a fast laptime in Q3.
Red Bull had earlier raised eyebrows in Q1 after opting to send both their drivers out on soft option tyres right from the start. Despite that their times in the first round were distinctly slow, while the two McLarens ended up setting a much faster pace on subsequent laps once the harder compounds got up to temperature. However, Red Bull's strategy was to remain on the same tyres for Q2 and that was more than good enough to get them through to the final ten, giving them more prime tyres to strategise with on Sunday at a track with less speed advantage for the soft tyres over their harder counterparts, and where tyre wear is likely to be the more significant factor.
The Lotus, Virgin and HRT cars predictably failed to progress at the end of Q1, Daniel Ricciardo unable to even take to the track after suffering further technical issues. This week the six were joined by Rubens Barrichello, after Williams took the risky approach of leaving it until the final three minutes to come out to attempt just two flying laps. Rubens aborted his final fast run after hitting traffic and was bumped from the top 17 by his team mate Pastor Maldonado just seconds later, meaning that the veteran Brazilian will start from 18th place on the grid.
Maldonado nonetheless finished toward the bottom of the Q2 times in 16th, and joined the underperforming Saubers of Kamui Kobaysahi (14th) and Sergio Perez (17th). Michael Schumacher thought he'd timed his run to perfection when he had the track to himself for his sole stint out on track, but a tyre imbalance led to a vibration that meant that he was eventually bumped out of the top ten in 12th place. Schumacher was bracketed by the Toro Rossos of Jamie Alguersuari (11th) and Sebastien Buemi (13th).
Bruno Senna ended up in 15th place on the grid, on a circuit that he's never visited before and on which he has struggled to fully get to grips with - especially during the wet conditions on Friday which saw the Renault exploring the scenery in run-off areas on multiple occasions.