Red Bull Racing's world champion Sebastian Vettel will start alongside Lewis Hamilton on the front row of the grid for Sunday's Grand Prix in Korea after all, following an investigation by FIA race stewards that decided against imposing any penalties on the world champion.
Vettel had been under review by race control after cutting turn 5 by taking to an escape road between turns 4 and 6 during a slow lap in the middle of Q3. He had been told by his engineer that he needed to get back around quickly if he was to have a final qualifying attempt before the session ended.
While cutting the corner undoubtedly saved him time, it would not have benefited him by 17s which is the margin he had before the end of the session when he eventually crossed the start/finish line.
Accordingly the stewards decided that the action had given Vettel no gain, and that no penalty was required.
"Having heard from the driver and team manager, and having noted that Car 1 started what was its fastest qualifying lap with 17 seconds to spare prior to the chequered flag, the stewards determined that no advantage was gained when car 1 left the track," said the official statement. "Accordingly no breach of Article 20.13 occurred on this occasion and the stewards decide to take no further action."
Drivers had been warned about using the escape road for anything other than legitimate accident-avoidance during the weekend, after it emerged that cars could make up considerable time on the track by shooting through and cutting out turn 5.
Drivers have been told by race director Charlie Whiting that anyone taking to the escape road in the race itself will have to turn around and emerge back at turn 4 rather than continuing through, although drivers have been critical of a requirement that could see them facing oncoming traffic at a dangerous location.
The decision does risk setting the precedence that cars "not respecting track limits" during qualifying on non-timed laps may be seen as acceptable in future.
The stewards' decision over the penalty means that Vettel remains on the front row and Jenson Button stays in third place on the grid - something that Button himself was delighted about, having said before the stewards' decision that "I hope they don't give him a penalty," since that would 'promote' Button onto the dirty side of the grid.
As it is, Button clearly hopes to use the clearer line into turn 1 to his advantage at the start of the race on Sunday, and is aiming to beat Vettel into the corner in second place.