Tag Archives: Korean GP

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. Perez 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.

Webber pips Vettel in Red Bull Korean qualifying lockout

Mark Webber caused a minor surprise, beating teammate Sebastian Vettel to pole position for the Korean Grand Prix.

Championship contenders Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso will line up 3rd and 4th, setting us up for an exciting race tomorrow. Jenson Button didn’t make it through to Q3, while Mercedes showed signs of improvement, with both cars getting through to Q3. Here is what happened:

Q1

With the track still dusty off-line, times were still relatively slow. Fernando Alonso’s first flying lap, a 1:39.543, was enough to put him on top.

Continuing on from his good form in Japan, Felipe Massa improved on his teammate’s time by half a second. Narain Karthikeyan had a huge spin at turn 3, “losing the brakes completely” in the braking zone, but was able to move his car out of the way.

Lewis Hamilton struggled with brake locking, but took 3rd after several attempts. After dominating Saturday morning practice, Vettel again set the standard, with a 1:38.2.

Teammate Webber could only manage to get within 2 tenths of the sister Red Bull. The Saubers showed much less pace than last week in Suzuka, and like Williams were forced to expend a set of super-softs to get both drivers into Q2.

Incredibly, despite dropping as low as 16th place, Lewis Hamilton opted not to set another lap time, just scraping through to Q2 alongside Fernando Alonso.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Bruno Senna – 1:39.443

19) Vitaly Petrov – 1:40.207

20) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:40.333

21) Charles Pic – 1:41.317

22) Timo Glock – 1:41.371

23) Pedro de la Rosa – 1:42.881

Narain Karthikeyan – N/A

Q2

The two Sauber drivers left the pits first on scrubbed supers-softs. A 1:38.901 for Perez and 1:38.594 for Kobayashi briefly put them on top, until Mark Webber went 0.3 seconds faster.

Fernando Alonso was the first driver to get into the 1:37s, but he was instantly beaten by Sebastian Vettel. After a complete lack of pace in Q1, Lewis Hamilton got close to pipping Vettel, but lost several tenths in the final sector.

In the final few minutes, all drivers but Vettel went back on track. However, many fast laps were ruined after Jean-Eric Vergne caused double-waves yellows in the final sector, pulling over to the side of the track.

Amazingly, Jenson Button only took 11th place, losing out on Q3 by 0.005 seconds.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jenson Button – 1:38.441

12) Sergio Perez – 1:38.460

13) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:38.594

14) Paul di Resta – 1:38.643

15) Pastor Maldonado – 1:38.725

16) Daniel Ricciardo – 1:39.084

17) Jean-Eric Vergne – 1:39.340

Q3

Despite the light going green at the end of the pit lane, the Mercedes drivers opted to hold at pit exit for half a minute, to improve track position.

Fernando Alonso was first up, setting a 1:37.667, 4 tenths faster than Felipe Massa. Mark Webber got very close to Alonso, while Vettel quickly slashed the fastest time by 0.35 seconds.

Lewis Hamilton was nowhere in comparison, again locking up his front left and ruining his lap. Nico Hulkenberg pitted after his out lap, opting not to set a fast time on his first run.

All 10 drivers decided to go out on track for the final few minutes. Mark Webber was up first, pipping Vettel’s time by 0.074 seconds. Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg lost huge amounts of time in the final sector, while Fernando Alonso could only manage 4th position.

After Vettel failed to improve on his last lap, pole position was confirmed for Webber, while championship contenders Hamilton and Alonso line up 3rd and 4th, right behind Sebastian Vettel.

Kimi Raikkonen was a quiet 5th, with Felipe Massa 6th. Nico Hulkenberg decided to set a time at the end of the session, lining up behind  Romain Grosjean. The two Mercedes drivers made it into Q3, but could only manage 9th and 10th.

Korean Grand Prix stats and facts

Sebastian Vettel continued his assault on the all-time F1 record list, with his 10th victory of the year yesterday in Korea. Also from this weekend:

  • Vettel’s 20th career win puts him level with Mika Hakkinen. He has now won 25.64% of the races he has entered – a higher stat than Ayrton Senna (25.31%).
  • While Sebastian may equal Michael Schumacher’s record of 13 wins in a single season, he will still rank behind his fellow German on this one, as Michael’s 13 wins came in an 18-race season, one less than the Red Bull driver.
  • If he clocks another 44 laps in the lead, Sebastian will also break the record for most laps led in a season. He is currently on 651 laps. The current record holder is Nigel Mansell, set in the 1992 season.
  • Red Bull had their 16-race pole position streak broken this weekend, though it is still 3rd on the all-time list. The last driver to beat a Red Bull to pole was Nico Hulkenberg in Brazil 2010.
  • McLaren’s 700th race was marked with their 147th pole position, and their 376th podium finish – a remarkable 53.7% rate.
  • Lewis Hamilton took his first pole position since the 2010 Canadian Grand Prix. It was the 19th of his career, one less than Damon Hill and Fernando Alonso.
  • Toro Rosso scored their best team result since Australia 2009, with Jaime Alguersuari 7th and Sebastien Buemi 9th.
  • Vettel has also had his 5-race streak of pole positions broken – for the second time this year!

Petrov handed 5-place grid penalty for India

Petrov launches into Schumacher, taking both cars out

Petrov launches into Schumacher, taking both cars out

Vitaly Petrov will be docked 5 places on the grid for the Indian Grand Prix later this month, after today’s collision with Michael Schumacher.

Petrov was racing Fernando Alonso for position entering Turn 3, when both cars out-braked themselves and slid off the track. Alonso took to the run-off area, while Petrov launched into an innocent Schumacher, taking both cars out of the race.

Vitaly accepted the blame soon after the race:

"It was not his fault, it was absolutely my fault – once my wheels were locked 
there was nothing I could do about it. But that’s racing and tomorrow is another 
day.

I tried to defend my position from Fernando but I was in the braking zone on the 
dirty side of the track which meant I locked my wheels and hit Michael.

I was focused on my battle with Fernando as there was potential for me to be 
ahead of him. We both braked too late as he missed the corner too."

Vettel romps home with 10th victory of the year in Korea

Sebastian Vettel has taken his 10th victory of the year at the Korean Grand Prix, while Red Bull have sealed up the constructors’ championship.

Vettel took the lead on the first lap from Lewis Hamilton, who held up Mark Webber and Jenson Button for most of the second half of the race, preventing any chance of a battle for the lead. Fernando Alonso spent most of his race battling with Felipe Massa, eventually finishing 5th. Here is what happened:

Hamilton leads at the start, but not for long

Hamilton leads at the start, but not for long

At the start, Hamilton retained his lead to the first corner, while Felipe Massa leaped up to 4th place. The Red Bull refused to stay behind though, and out-braked Lewis into Turn 4, taking the lead. Jenson Button slipped from 3rd to 6th position.

While Lewis stuck to the back of Vettel, the main battle was between Webber, Massa and Alonso for 3rd, with Button clinging to the back of this group. After an excellent first few laps, Felipe was now backing his teammate into Jenson.

Button opted not to pass, and pitted on Lap 14, taking on new super-softs. However, he was released alongside Nico Rosberg, with the Mercedes taking the position. While Button sliced past him at pit exit, the excellent straight line speed of Rosberg’s car allowed him to retake the place.

Mark Webber pitted for primes, alongside Felipe Massa. After losing much time to the race leader, Hamilton took on new options on Lap 16, while Fernando Alonso decided on the soft compound.

Petrov launches into Schumacher, taking both cars out

Petrov launches into Schumacher, taking both cars out

Despite indicating a different strategy during qualifying, Vettel took on super-softs at his stop. This timed perfectly with a sudden safety car deployment, for an incident at Turn 3. Vitaly Petrov messed up his braking, and launched into the back of Michael Schumacher, damaging the Renault’s front wing and breaking the steering arm, while Schumacher lost his rear wing. Both cars retired that lap, and Alonso was lucky not to be taken out in the crash.

After the safety car pitted, Button had moved up to 4th, and was challenging Webber for 3rd place. Kamui Kobayashi soon pitted for a front wing change, after hitting the back of Bruno Senna.

After several laps of tussling, a lock-up by Rosberg allowed both Ferrari cars through. Up at the front, Vettel held off Hamilton, while Webber closed in on both of them. Lewis’ tyres soon began to heavily wear, allowing Vettel to tear away, and allowed Mark to close up behind.

Hamilton and Webber both pitted on Lap 34, retaining their positions and taking on prime tyres. The two cars tussled it out in the midfield, while Vettel and Button pitted, oblivious to the cameras.

Vettel seals the second constructors title for Red Bull

Vettel seals the second constructors title for Red Bull

While Webber struggled to pass the McLaren, Alonso pitted from the lead, dropping to 5th, but moving ahead of Massa. As the race progressed, Mark still failed to get past Hamilton, while Button and Alonso joined the increasing queue.

Oddly enough, Webber kept moving off line at Turn 1, preventing any chance at using DRS down the main straight. This continued up until the end of the race, ensuring that Vettel comfortably took the chequered flag.

The stream of cars behind retained their positions, while Jaime Alguersuari, quiet but fast the entire race, swept past Nico Rosberg on the final lap to take 7th place. His teammate Sebastien Buemi was 9th, after a very good day for the Toro Rosso team.

Hamilton breaks Red Bull’s pole position streak in Korea

For the first time since the 2010 Brazilian Grand Prix, a Red Bull will not start from pole position. Today, it was Lewis Hamilton who took top spot for the Korean Grand Prix.

The McLaren driver was on the pace all weekend, but his teammate was unable to challenge for pole, instead being split for 3rd by Sebastian Vettel. Mark Webber was disappointingly slow in Q3, finishing 4th, with the off-pace Ferraris 5th and 6th. Here is what happened:

Q1

The Renaults briefly led Q1, before a flurry of cars exited the pits. Strangely enough, both Red Bull cars decided to make their first runs on the super-soft tyres.

Lewis Hamilton soon went top with a 1:38.278, with Jenson Button half a second off his teammate. Despite being on faster tyres, both Red Bulls were unusually slow, lapping in the 1:39s.

Lewis went another 7 tenths faster the next lap, with Jenson again off the pace. The Williams drivers, as well as Vitantonio Liuzzi, only left the pits with 4 minutes to go. Although he was using the super-soft compound, Pastor Maldonado could only go 16th.

Rubens Barrichello abandoned his final run, allowing Maldonado to take his teammate out of Q1. Daniel Ricciardo failed to set a time in this session, with an apparent technical problem with the HRT.

Drivers knocked out of Q1:

18) Rubens Barrichello – 1:39.538

19) Heikki Kovalainen – 1:40.522

20) Jarno Trulli – 1:41.101

21) Timo Glock – 1:42.091

22) Jerome D’Ambrosi – 1:43.483

23) Vitantonio Liuzzi – 1:43.758

24) Daniel Ricciardo – No time

Q2

Again, Hamilton comprehensively led Button in the early stages of the session, with Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso off the pace of McLaren. A little twitch from Vettel’s car on his first run slipped him to 7 tenths off Hamilton.

Michael Schumacher’s first run put him only into 9th place. Felipe Massa was forced to use another set of super-softs to survive the session.

Jaime Alguersuari and Paul di Resta briefly made it into 10th place, with the Scot staying there as the chequered flag fell. This left Michael Schumacher stranded down in 12th position for the race.

Drivers knocked out in Q2:

11) Jaime Alguersuari – 1:38.315

12) Michael Schumacher – 1:38.354

13) Sebastien Buemi – 1:38.508

14) Kamui Kobayashi – 1:38.775

15) Bruno Senna – 1:38.791

16) Pastor Maldonado – 1:39.189

17) Sergio Perez – 1:39.443

Q3

Pole favourite Lewis Hamilton was first out, setting a 1:36.130. The Ferraris were well off the pace, with Button still nearly half a second off his teammate. Sebastian Vettel was slower than Hamilton by only 0.03 seconds after his first run.

A 1:35.820 improved Hamilton’s benchmark, with Button 0.3 seconds off. Mark Webber abandoned his final run after a dismal first sector, a move copied by Paul di Resta.

While the Ferraris failed to make any impact on the front runners, Vettel was on a charge to knock Hamilton off top spot. However, for the first time this year, the Red Bull car will not start on pole position, as Sebastian could only get within 2 tenths of the McLaren.

With that, Lewis will start on pole tomorrow, with Vettel preventing a McLaren front row lockout. Webber will be 4th, ahead of the two Ferraris. Nico Rosberg was 7th, with Vitaly Petrov 8th. Neither Force India car set a time in Q3.

Hamilton leads McLaren 1-2 in wet second practice

Hamilton set his time early on in FP2

Hamilton set his time early on in FP2

Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button streaked ahead of the opposition in second practice for the Korean Grand Prix.

Both Brits set fast times early on in the session, when the track was at one of its drier points. For much of the 90 minutes, the McLarens were 2 seconds in front of the rest of the field.

Jaime Alguersuari took a risk on the super-soft tyre in the damp conditions, but was hit by Nico Rosberg, the Mercedes sliding wide at Turn 1 and hitting the Toro Rosso. While Rosberg was not given a penalty for his mistake, he was fined €10000 (€5000 suspended) for failing to appear “in a timely manner” to the stewards afterwards.

The field was split between worn intermediates and super-softs – with neither choice working out. Drivers on slicks, such as Sebastien Buemi, spun out, and the intermediates eventually ran out of grip, as Bruno Senna and both Ferrari drivers can attest to.

As no driver could even get near the McLarens, Hamilton and Button ended the session miles in front.

Times from FP2:

 1.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes       1:50.828          26
 2.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes       1:50.932   0.104   19
 3.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault       1:52.646   1.818   30
 4.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                1:52.774   1.946   25
 5.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault       1:53.049   2.221   27
 6.  Jaime Alguersuari     Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:53.402   2.574   25
 7.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                1:53.707   2.879   24
 8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes               1:53.914   3.086   18
 9.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari     1:53.948   3.120   27
10.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes   1:53.957   3.129   32
11.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                1:54.200   3.372   26
12.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes   1:54.392   3.564   26
13.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth      1:54.831   4.003   30
14.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes               1:54.965   4.137   21
15.  Bruno Senna           Renault                1:55.187   4.359   28
16.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari         1:55.203   4.375   24
17.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari         1:55.544   4.716   23
18.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth      1:56.067   5.239   22
19.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault          1:56.669   5.841   20
20.  Jarno Trulli          Lotus-Renault          1:57.173   6.345   19
21.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth        1:58.269   7.441   25
22.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth        1:59.458   8.630   26
23.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth           1:59.958   9.130   19
24.  Tonio Liuzzi          HRT-Cosworth           2:00.165   9.337   20

Schumacher leads quiet rain-affected first practice in Korea

Schumacher set the fastest time in the dying minutes

Schumacher set the fastest time in the dying minutes

Michael Schumacher topped the timesheets for first practice for the Korean Grand Prix, in a session heavily disrupted by rain.

The first 30 minutes of the session were mostly silent, as only Lewis Hamilton set exploratory times on extreme wet tyres.

The track burst into life with half an hour to go, however. Hamilton, Sebastien Buemi and Adrian Sutil all briefly headed the timesheets with less than a minute to go.

Right at the end of the 90 minutes, Schumacher set a 2:02.784 to lead Sebastian Vettel and Paul di Resta. The new 2011 world champion had a slight scare near the end, almost running into the back of a Virgin car.

Managing only 5 laps, Mark Webber was 10th, 2.3 seconds off the pace. Karun Chandhok was 11th, while Jean-Eric Vergne was 13th for Toro Rosso in his first ever official practice session in F1.

Both Ferraris and Renaults, as well as Heikki Kovalainen and Jenson Button, opted not to set a time in FP1.

Times from FP1:

 1.  Michael Schumacher    Mercedes                2:02.784           10
 2.  Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault        2:02.840   0.056    8
 3.  Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes    2:02.912   0.128   12
 4.  Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes    2:03.141   0.357   12
 5.  Sebastien Buemi       Toro Rosso-Ferrari      2:03.182   0.398    9
 6.  Kamui Kobayashi       Sauber-Ferrari          2:03.292   0.508   13
 7.  Lewis Hamilton        McLaren-Mercedes        2:03.391   0.607    6
 8.  Nico Rosberg          Mercedes                2:04.311   1.527   12
 9.  Sergio Perez          Sauber-Ferrari          2:04.797   2.013    8
10.  Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault        2:05.183   2.399    5
11.  Karun Chandhok        Lotus-Renault           2:06.350   3.566   11
12.  Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Cosworth       2:06.852   4.068   11
13.  Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari      2:07.541   4.757    9
14.  Rubens Barrichello    Williams-Cosworth       2:08.218   5.434    5
15.  Narian Karthikeyan    HRT-Cosworth            2:08.832   6.048   14
16.  Daniel Ricciardo      HRT-Cosworth            2:09.232   6.448   14
17.  Jerome D'Ambrosio     Virgin-Cosworth         2:12.658   9.874    7
18.  Timo Glock            Virgin-Cosworth         2:14.508   11.724   4
19.  Felipe Massa          Ferrari                 N/A                 0
20.  Fernando Alonso       Ferrari                 N/A                 0
21.  Bruno Senna           Renault                 N/A                 0
22.  Vitaly Petrov         Renault                 N/A                 0
23.  Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault           N/A                 0
24.  Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes        N/A                 0

Jean-Eric Vergne and Karthikeyan to race in Korea practice

Jean-Eric Vergne will drive the Toro Rosso 3 times this year

Jean-Eric Vergne will drive the Toro Rosso 3 times this year

Jean-Eric Vergne and Narain Karthikeyan will be driving a Toro Rosso and HRT car respectively in Friday Practice for the Korean Grand Prix.

Karthikeyan will be driving the Hispania to re-adjust himself to the car, before he races in India at the end of this month.

Meanwhile Vergne, who was runner-up in this year’s Formula Renault 3.5 series, will be driving Jaime Alguersuari’s car in FP1. Toro Rosso have also confirmed that he will be using Sebastien Buemi’s car for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix practice sessions. Whichever driver has the least points going into the season finale at Interlagos will submit their seat to Vergne on the Friday.

He will not  be participating in any way at the Indian Grand Prix weekend, as the team feels they need to allow their main drivers to learn the circuit.

Previously, the 21-year-old Frenchman drove for Toro Rosso in last year’s young driver test.

Thoughts on the Korean Grand Prix

The first ever Korean GP took place last week, and saw the tipping of the championship pendulum at least twice – with the retirements of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.The rain played havoc with the newly laid track, leading to a chaotic race with a lot to comment on. So, after it all, what’s the verdict?

The track

The track itself is certainly impressive, albeit in parts only. Much of the middle sector featured high-speed corners, testing car and driver. The first sector proved easy to overtake on, and the final sector looked very difficult, with unforgiving walls and little run-off area, as Mark Webber and Lucas di Grassi found out.

However, as we all know, this was all turned on its head by the rain. Because the tarmac was freshly laid, as well as the dust and oil from construction work, the water simply sat on top of the track instead of sloping off. This meant that, with low but persistent rain, the race was postponed for nearly an hour before racing commenced. Personally, I thought that the drivers could have handled the conditions from around Lap 10 onwards, but that’s another story.

Another interesting thing to note was that changes were being made on Saturday night, after complaints about several corners. The kerb on Turn 16, for example, was actually lower than the track, and the cars were running over the kerb, spitting up dust onto the track.

The circuit could well have been better prepared for the race

The circuit could well have been better prepared for the race

With that in mind, we may have to remember what we thought before the Korean GP: That the organisers were not prepared for a sporting event of this magnitude. The pit lane entry and exit were both unsafe and didn’t contribute anything positive to the race. The pit entry sported a huge bump on turn-in, causing Lewis Hamilton to nearly lose control in qualifying, while pit exit deposited the cars in the middle of a heavy braking zone, which is not a smart move if there is a car out of control under braking.

Despite all of this however, the track stood up to the test on race day, and hopefully these problems will be sorted out by next year.

The race

When I first watched the race on Sunday morning, I feared it would be a mix of Suzuka qualifying and Malaysia 2009. The Suzuka aspect certainly came true, with the race being red-flagged for the wet track. The Malaysia aspect was the fear of the F1 grid running out of sunlight before the race ended, which I’ll talk about later.

I thought that many of the drivers were being far too cautious when they were calling for the safety car to stay out. As Lewis Hamilton said, it was approaching intermediate tyre conditions, and if a Formula 1 driver can’t control their car in those sort of conditions, there is something seriously wrong.

The race, when it finally got underway, was a great one. Immediately, there were good spots to overtake, as well as a few we didn’t expect, like Turns 6 and 7. The Mercedes drivers certainly impressed me with their driving abilities, and if it wasn’t for Mark Webber taking out Nico Rosberg, I’m sure he would have got on the podium, if not even better.

This is the lap where Sebastian Vettel described the track as "undrivable" - Looks fine to me

This is the lap where Sebastian Vettel described the track as "undrivable" - Looks fine to me

Speaking of Webber’s crash, his actions were more than slightly dangerous, when he veered his car back across the track after he crashed. There was plenty of run-off area behind where he crashed, so he should have reversed his car back, instead of the stupidly dangerous move of turning back across. If that move was done by Michael Schumacher, I’d guarantee that an almightly storm of accusations would be flying around.

The Red Bulls, meanwhile, proved our fears that they simply cannot capitalise on their advantages. A 1-2 qualification was the bare minimum of their expectations, given their pace. Not for the first time this year, rain has thrown away a Red Bull lockout (China), and this time it has resulted in the team walking away empty-handed from a race they should have dominated. Only Red Bull could suffer this sort of luck…

On the other hand, after the race ended, conditions got much worse

On the other hand, after the race ended, conditions got much worse

As the race entered the closing stages, much was made of the lack of sunlight. I’ve been watching the onboard footage from the last few laps, and to be honest, can’t really see what the problem was about. Yes, there was less sunlight than the drivers may have wanted, but nowhere near bad enough to stop the race early. As I said earlier, if the drivers cannot handle these challenges, then Formula 1 is treating drivers too softly. On the other hand, right after the race ended, visibility dropped massively within a matter of minutes, so maybe we got off incredibly lucky with the timing.

My verdict

Despite all of the media’s speculation of the race not going ahead, the Yeongam circuit has put up a great show, and presented us a race to remember. It dealt many twists and turns to the championship battle, and has set us up for an epic showdown in Interlagos. Therefore, I would call it good excuse to declare the inaugural Korean Grand Prix a success.

 

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