Vettel dominates in Korea to take lead in championship

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8 fights with Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8, at the start of the race. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.

Sebastian Vettel side by side with Mark Webber during the first lap in Korea

Oct.14 (GP247) Sebastian Vettel took command of the 2012 Formula One World Championship, as he powered to a dominant victory in the Korean Grand Prix in what was ultimately a lights to flag victory on a hazy day in Yeongam.

Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.It was the first 2012 one-two finish for Red Bull as Mark Webber, who started from pole, crossed the line in second place as the energy drinks squad have regained the kind of form that saw them obliterate the opposition last year and have firmly put Vettel on the road to a third consecutive world title with four rounds to go.

Speaking to podium MC Johnny Herbert after the race, Vettel said,  “I’m very pleased. It’s fantastic. The foundation was to have a good start. I wasn’t sure because I was starting on the dirty side but I had a good launch and managed to get past Mark. But it wasn’t over, it’s a long way and even in seventh gear I could hear Mark coming. We were a bit worried about the front wheel because we’ve seen a lot of people locking up and overshooting the apexes. The team have been flat out on the car since Japan and that’s what we need. I’m looking forward to next couple of races. A lot can happen but we need to focus on ourselves and go from there.”

Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.Webber summed up his afternoon, “I was on pole but the start wasn’t sensational. I will have to look into why but the initial getaway wasn’t great. After that it was neck and neck along the back straight but Seb got away. It was about tyres, at the end of each stint it was tough to keep the tyres alive. But it was a good drive from Seb and a great day for the team. Of course I am disappointed not to win but I’m pleased to get a good result.”

Red Bull’s only issue was restraining Vettel, whose fondness for a last lap burst of speed is famous, and there were several calls over the radio to warn him about not overdoing things, especially as the tyres were supposedly marginal.

But really from the outside it looked almost easy for Red Bull and particularly Vettel, who took the lead in the drag race to Turn 1, despite not getting off the line as stealthily as Webber. But with the inside line at his disposal Vettel was hardly made to fight for the lead.

Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.Red Bull boss Christian Horner explained, “I think all the guys were right on the edge with the tyres. We know what Seb is like in the last laps. I just said to [his engineer] Rocky, stay all over him and he did just that ensuring that he managed the tyres. The nature of the track here, with high speed turns, it’s a real punisher. The guys behaved impeccably at the start, racing each other hard in first three corners. They did exactly what was asked, giving each other space.”

Behind the leaders at the start, Jenson Button had made a good start from 11th on the grid but in Turn 3 he was slammed by an out of control Sauber with Kamui Kobasyahi going from hero (in Suzuka) to zero not even a minute into the race in Korea. Button was out on the spot as was Nico Rosberg who was again an innocent bystander, as he was a week earlier in Japan.

Button was obviously disappointed, “It’s as if the race is two corners long. I don’t know what’s going on but it’s pretty disappointing. It’s a long race and there are so many overtaking opportunities here so there’s no need to do that.”

Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20 ahead of the accident involving Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31 and Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.Sulking is not in the Englishman’s demeanour, and he added when asked if he was still a title contender, “No, definitely not. I’m going to enjoy myself over the next few races. Points for the team would have been really important, but it’s out of our hands.”

Kobayashi was given a drive through penalty for instigating the expensive incident, although he rejoined and circulated despite being out of contention, before calling it quits an lap 16.

The Japanese driver tried to explain, “I was fighting for position. Unfortunately when braking it was difficult to react, someone hit my car and I couldn’t control [it]. But we’re fighting on the straight for position [and] I had both cars on my left and right, so I had nowhere to [go]. I think it’s difficult to avoid.”

Back to the sharp end of proceedings and it was full credit to Ferrari, without a car to match the pace setting RB8, toiled hard to ensure that Fernando Alonso finished third with Felipe Massa taking fourth and forced to hold station behind the championship contender.

Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C31 slides out of the race after colliding with Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren MP4-27. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.Alonso no longer leads the championship standings – for the first time since Valencia and now trails Vettel by six points, while a resurgent Massa did everything expected by his team as the Maranello squad have now overtaken McLaren in the constructors’ standings.

Alonso commented, “We have to be happy with the performance today. We finished third and fourth behind the Red Bulls who are difficult to beat. It was a good day for team, for me and for Felipe, and we overtook McLaren in the constructors’ championship so we are moving in the right direction. We just need an extra step to be as competitive as Red Bull.”

Massa was clearly pleased with his work on the day, “The pace was very good and I’m very happy with the car. I managed to overtake cars at the start and that put me in a condition to drive alone in clear air. The pace was good enough today to possibly finish on the podium. Knowing I did everything I could gave me a lot of pleasure. One point could be important for Fernando Alonso in the fight [for the title].”

Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F2012. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.It is now certain that the world crown will be fought for by Vettel and Alonso, although Kimi Raikkonen’s remarkable run points finishes continued with his 13th consecutive score in Korea, but despite scoring 15 times in 16 races so far this season, it is unlikely that the Lotus driver has a chance to challenge the leading duo.

Nevertheless it was a good race for Raikkonen, the Lotus E20 enjoying a strong showing after a couple of mediocre races. But in truth the Finn was not a podium contender as long as the Red Bulls and Ferraris were running hassle free.

Drive of the day has got to go to Nico Hulkenberg who was central to one of the best moves of the season as he made an opportunist move to overtake Lewis Hamilton and Romain Grosjean in one single move as the trio battled for sixth place.

Hulkenberg enjoyed himself, and said afterwards, “It was quite surprising. I had a big smile on my face and was cheering like I won a grand prix. I saw an opportunity coming and I chose the right braking side, and I hung in there and did it.”

Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Force India F1 VJM05 leads Romain Grosjean (FRA) Lotus E20 and Sergio Perez (MEX) Sauber C31. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.Under fire Grosjean kept right out of trouble all weekend long and was rewarded with seventh place, spending most of his race embroiled in wheel-to-wheel battles with Hamilton and Hulkenberg.

Hamilton, and McLaren for that matter, had an awful Korean GP with a solitary point their reward for a forgettable afternoon at Yeongam. Pre-race the Woking squad were tipped as possible win contenders, but the pundits got it horribly wrong, starting with luck deserting Button on the opening lap.

With only Hamilton in the race, things went from bad to worse as the anti-roll bar failed on the MP4-27 and thereafter it never delivered the kind of pace needed to be effective. To add insult to injury, late on in the race he hooked up a piece of artificial turf in the McLaren side pod where it remained, flapping to the end of the race and probably cost him eighth place.

Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4-27 locks up at turn 3. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.“We really struggled today. The guys did a fantastic job in the pit-stops but I’ve just been told that in the first stint we had a rear suspension failure. They said it was safe for me to drive. I did ask [during the race] but I wasn’t expecting them to tell me. I was just fighting the whole way with the car. It’s real sad that we are pretty much out of the championship but sometimes these races show your true spirit within,” ventured Hamilton philosophically.

McLaren sporting director Sam Michael explained,  “We had a rear anti-roll bar failure around lap 18. We were talling Lewis ‘everything is safe but you’re going to have to manage it for the rest of the grand prix and he did the best job he could. It’s very difficult to go into detail on the radio about exactly what the failure was. The only thing Lewis needs to know is the car is safe and you are going to have a difficult afternoon trying to drive it.”

Jean-Eric Vergne (FRA) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR7. Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday 14 October 2012.Benefitting from Hamilton’s mishap – but in no way detracting from their fine afternoon – were the Toro Rosso pair of Jean Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo who, despite their lack of experience, gave their best showing of the season to finish eighth and ninth respectively. Ricciardo, appeared to slow in the final stages and seemingly gave way to his teammate with a couple of laps to go.

After their superb weekend in Japan, it was back down to earth with a thump for Sauber with Kobayashi messing it up on the opening lap, while Sergio Perez also engaged in some questionable first lap tactics before grafting hard to finish 11th on a day where his performance will hardly have impressed new employers McLaren.

Paul di Resta was again well beaten by his teammate in an afternoon to forget for the highly rated Scottish driver.

Also way out of contention was Mercedes‘ Michael Schumacher who finished 13th in his final grand prix in Korea, fourth place in 2010 being his best result at the venue.

When doing the maths after round 16 of the 2012 world championship it shows that Vettel leaves Korea with 215 points. He is the only driver to have won four races so far this season. Alonso trails by half a dozen points, while Raikkonen trails top spot by 48 points with Hamilton 62 points adrift. A maximum of 100 points is up for grabs, which theoretically means that Webber (152 points) and Button (131 points) are still in contention – but in truth it is now Vettel versus Alonso with four rounds to go.

Subbed by AJN.

Korean Grand Prix, Yeongam – Sunday, 14 October 2012

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time Grid Pts
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 55 Winner 2 25
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 55 +8.2 secs 1 18
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 55 +13.9 secs 4 15
4 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari 55 +20.1 secs 6 12
5 9 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 55 +36.7 secs 5 10
6 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 55 +45.3 secs 8 8
7 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 55 +54.8 secs 7 6
8 17 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 55 +69.5 secs 16 4
9 16 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 55 +71.7 secs 21 2
10 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 55 +79.6 secs 3 1
11 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 55 +80.0 secs 12
12 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 55 +84.4 secs 14
13 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes 55 +89.2 secs 10
14 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 55 +94.9 secs 15
15 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 55 +96.9 secs 17
16 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 54 +1 Lap 18
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 54 +1 Lap 19
18 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 54 +1 Lap 20
19 25 Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 53 +2 Laps 24
20 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 53 +2 Laps 23
Ret 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 16 +39 Laps 22
Ret 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 16 +39 Laps 13
Ret 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 1 Accident 9
Ret 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 1 Accident 11

Note: Pic dropped ten grid places for an unscheduled engine change; Ricciardo dropped five – gearbox penalty. Karthikeyan failed to set a Q3 time within the 107% requirement – raced at stewards’ discretion.

  • javalocco

    Vettel for 2012 WDC, not big mouth nando alonso!

  • alonso_is_slow

    Vettel beats Webber on track.

    Alonso only beats Massa with team orders.

  • McHare

    McLaren need to take a long hard look at themselves. Recent pace is simply not good enough.

  • Speedo

    The script was written before the race even started. The Red Bulls are now untouchable and it will be so up to the last race in Brazil. Ferrari better step up find that extra gear if Alonso is to challenge for the WDC or it will be boring from now on.. As for the rest including Lewis they better forget it. It is a done deal now.

    McLaren started the season well and then went backwards. After Summer break they improved scoring three wins in a row and suddenly they have reliability problems – gear box failure in both cars, failure in Singapore which deprived Lewis of a win and now the anti-roll bar. If not for the bungling in the pits Lewis would still be in contention. The Ferrari team has overtaken McLaren in the Constructors championship points who can now forget about WCC.

    Bad luck for Jenson and Rosberg as another hothead Kobayashi tried to squeeze through a non existent gap. The rule should be changed to add a 10 place grid penalty in the next race in addition to the drive through. These are costly mistakes for the victims in the race as well as repairs. Just because he got on the podium in Japan, he lost his head and now from Hero to Zero.

    The biggest laugh of the day was Perez who is replacing Lewis at McLaren next year. Perez could not overtake the slow Lewis who had anti roll bar problem and also dragging that strip of artificial turf. Credit to Lewis for not giving up and fighting all the way to bring the McLaren into 10th place.

  • edd

    with the gap increasing between vettle and the rest, i turned it off and went back to bed. when vettle is on poll there is no race, it is merely a procession. there are 4 races left but i fear the season is over.

  • Tamburello_1994

    @ edd;

    Remember: S. Vettel was not on pole. M. Webber was.
    What you should of said was if Seb was able to wrestle 1st place from Webber by turn one, It’s race over.

    Gonna be hard to stop the hard charging Bulls. At this point in the season not sure there is time for teams to develop a counter. Ferrari has been flat out all year re-developing the car as seen with F.Massa’s resurgence, How much more can they wring out of the chassis? McLaren seems to be fading from the race pace they showed just a few races ago.

    Both Ferrari and McLaren had their chances this season but this is certainly a position they’d rather not be in. Especially Ferrari. At this point, All Vettel has to do is keep his head above water, Count on some help from his teammate and finish in front of Alonso and he’s a three-time worlds champion.