Daily Archives: October 14, 2012

Vettel survives tyre scare to win in Korea

Sebastian Vettel has taken his third victory in a row at the Korean Grand Prix. It wasn’t easy sailing all the way though, as both Red Bulls incurred serious tyre degradation near the end of the race. After crawling the last few laps, Vettel eventually led home teammate Mark Webber, with Fernando Alonso taking 3rd place, losing control of the world championship in the process.

Lewis Hamilton had a complete disaster of a race, while the Toro Rossos took an impressive double points finish. Here is what happened:

At the start, Vettel slided past Webber into the first corner, while Fernando Alonso put huge pressure on the Red Bulls. Jenson Button’s race only lasted two corners, being taken out by Kamui Kobayashi in the braking zone at the end of the straight, ending the McLaren’s race.

Sergio Perez made good progress, benefiting from the Kobayashi carnage to move up to 9th. However, up front, Sebastian began to sail away at the front, having dispatched of his rivals with ease.

The two Toro Rossos began to tussle amongst themselves, being held up by Pastor Maldonado. After asking for team orders, Daniel Ricciardo still benefited when Maldonado ran wide, allowing both himself and Jean-Eric Vergne through.

Unsurprisingly, a drive-through penalty was the order of the day for Kobayashi, after causing two retirements on the first lap.

The stranded Mercedes of Roseberg caused some pain for the stewards, causing double-waved yellows to be out for 10 laps while the car was cleared. Afterwards, DRS was finally enabled, allowing several drivers to make passing moves the following lap.

Nico Hulkenberg was clearly unhappy with the balance of his Force India, struggling to keep 7th from Romain Grosjean and Perez.

Lewis Hamilton was the first of the frontrunners to pit, taking on the soft tyre. On the same lap, both Hulkenberg and Grosjean also pitted, the Force India just about keeping its position.

After the first set of stops, there was no change up front, but Fernando Alonso was hard-pushed to hold off Sergio Perez, who hadn’t pitted. Hamilton swiftly got involved in the battle, and regained 4th from the Sauber.┬áPerez began to slide down the order, and by lap 18 was down to 6th place.

Lewis’ pace was quickly shattered, as he reported a huge loss of downforce from his car. Going several seconds a lap slower, he was easy pickings for Felipe Massa, dropping down to 5th position. Kimi Raikkonen tried a move, but the McLaren held firm. Several entertaining laps ensued, with the Lotus trying every type of overtake, but Lewis impressively held his position.

However, he opted to bring his second stop forward, releasing Raikkonen into 5th.

The second round of stops was similarly fruitless for Alonso, failing to make any progress to Webber in front. Despite a mistake from Vettel on his in lap, he emerged comfortably in front of his teammate.

Just out of the points, Paul di Resta made a move on Michael Schumacher for 11th. Sergio Perez, whose disastrous first stint put him out of contention for big points, began to challenge the Mercedes.

Further ahead, Nico Hulkenberg put an excellent move on Lewis Hamilton, who then was forced to hold off Romain Grosjean. A bad day got much worse for McLaren, after they informed Lewis that he would have to stop for a third time.

After his third stop, Hamilton emerged in 10th place. He put a move on Jean-Eric Vergne for 9th, but the Toro Rosso impressively held the former world champion off.

8th-placed Daniel Ricciardo had an off at the braking zone at turn 3, and within several laps had been reeled in by Vergne and Hamilton. He relectantly allowed teammate Jean-Eric through, but was able to hold off Hamilton until the end. He was assisted, though, by a bizarre incident, where a large piece of astroturf lodged itself in Lewis’ sidepod, and forced him to slow down.

The Red Bull drivers were warned to conserve their front right tyres, but were reassured that they could make it to the end of the race. In the closing laps, there were some worried faces on the Red Bull pit wall, but Vettel managed to crawl around the track to take his third victory in a row.

Alonso was unable to catch Webber in the end, while Massa did well to take 4th ahead of Kimi Raikkonen. Hamilton finished 10th, with his championship ambitions well and truly over.

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