Vettel Takes Point Lead In Korea
YEONGAM, Korea — Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel may have had some tire-wear problems toward the end of Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix at Yeongam, but from outside the cockpit it looked like yet another walk in the park for the defending champion as his third victory in a row moved him into the lead of the world championship fight by six points over Fernando Alonso.
On a damage limitation day, the Spaniard brought his Ferrari home third behind Vettel and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber. It was the first time that any team had finished one-two this season.
It was the fourth victory of the year for the two-time defending world champion.
“I think it was a perfect day for me and the team,” Vettel explained. “It was important to get a good start. I was able to out-accelerate Mark and get side by side, I had the inside for turn three and a good exit, which meant I could stay ahead for turn four. I was in the lead, but we have seen before that it doesn’t always stick.
“My one mistake today was a lock-up going in to turn three, but with the tires it was marginal for everyone. You couldn’t push so much and my front right didn’t look too happy from the inside many times. We were able to pull away in the first and second stint and hold it for the third. We will have to do our best to remain where we are now. We have to just keep it simple and do our job.”
Webber’s pole counted for nothing as Vettel sped down the inside into the first corner, just as Alonso was likewise depriving Lewis Hamilton of third place. Further back, Sergio Perez hit Jenson Button’s McLaren before his Sauber teammate Kamui Kobayashi did the job properly, walloping it twice and sending it into immediate retirement with right-front suspension damage.
Vettel owned the race, controlling Webber easily.
“I had a bit too much clutch off the line, which was disappointing. I put up a fight on the back straight with Sebastian, as it wasn’t all over,” Webber explained. “I tried to make a move, but once I pulled out of his slipstream, both of us were on the same speed. After that I was going quite well in the first part of the race. I couldn’t use DRS, due to the yellow flags and after that it became a tire battle. The second stint wasn’t so good, as I went a bit slower to conserve the tires, but that made the degradation a bit worse. The last stint was the strongest, but it was too late by then.
“Congratulations to Sebastian on the win and it’s great for the team that we got a one two, especially for the Constructors’, but I have mixed emotions. It was a good result, but of course, I wanted to get the top result today.”
Further back, Alonso kept them honest but no more than that, and was lucky that it was teammate Felipe Massa who rode shotgun all the way to the flag after another good race for the Brazilian in which he had greater pace than the Spaniard.
“I think we have to be happy with the performance today, we finished third and fourth, just behind Red Bull that at the moment are difficult to beat,” said Alonso. “So, it was a good day for the team, for Felipe, for me, and I think we also overtook McLaren in the Constructors’ Championship, which is something that maybe we didn’t expect two or three races ago, so definitely we are moving in the right direction. We just need a little last step to be as competitive as Red Bull and I think it will be a beautiful last four races to the end.”
Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen was a lonely fifth, while a great drive by Nico Hulkenberg realized sixth place for Force India after a gritty battle with Romain Grosjean in the other Lotus.
The result puts Ferrari ahead of McLaren in the constructors’ stakes, 290 points to 284, as Red Bull’s great day brought their score to 367.