Lewis Hamilton has made no bones about the fact that he rates Fernando Alonso as his most formidable opponent on the Formula 1 grid, and after the Korean Grand Prix lamented the fact that the two former World Champions were battling for fifth and sixth place, while Sebastian Vettel powered comfortably to win number eight of the season and took another huge step closer to his fourth world title in as many years.
Speaking to the BBC after the race, Hamilton said, “It’s strange, me and Fernando in fifth and sixth having our own little battle. We are of a higher calibre. I like battling with Fernando. He’s the strongest driver here and really we should be battling at the front with the World Champions, with Sebastian.”
Pirelli tyres were again in the headlines for all the wrong reasons. Drivers led by Alonso voiced their displeasure about the quality of tyres on offer, and Hamilton also struggled to get the rubber to work efficiently on his Mercedes.
“My [right front] tyre was dead and I was turning and turning and nothing was happening. I was two or three seconds slower than Nico [Rosberg]. There was nothing I could do. I just had to get to a certain target [lap for a pit stop], which was unfortunate, so I lost a lot of ground there.”
In qualifying, 24 hours earlier Hamilton was second fastest and looked capable of challenging Vettel, but from the start it was clear that the Mercedes was still lagging in race pace and in the end it was a below par performance by the Silver Arrows.
“If I’d been in the lead I think I’d have been able to stay there, but things just did not go my way. We need to figure it out because we are faster than our results [show],” said the 2008 World Champion.
One of the highlights of the race was Hamilton’s late duel with Nico Hulkenberg in the Sauber. Although Hamilton did get by with about half a dozen laps to go, Hulkenberg was able to get by again and hold on to fourth place. Hamilton was fifth when the flag fell.
“There was nothing I could do,” Hamilton lamented. “[Hulkenberg] was so quick on the straight, he just drove past me.” (GP247)
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