Sebastian Vettel won today’s 2012 Korean Grand Prix, making it three wins on the trot for Red Bull and with it he gains the lead in the chase for the world championship. Vettel took the lead in the first corner of the race and was never headed, despite a great scrap with teammate and pole sitter Mark Webber on that opening lap.
Webber held onto that second position without too much bother, despite a relatively strong third place from Fernando Alonso (Ferrari).
Felipe Massa’s resurgence continued and on another day, and in another team perhaps, he would have challenged Alonso for third place. About three quarters of the way through the race Massa was told, in effect, that Fernando was slower than him and, given their respective world championship rankings, was asked to maintain postion.
This was a race where nothing happened and everything happened. In the midfield there was action aplenty. Kamui Kobayishi (Sauber) appeared to skittle Jenson Button (McLaren) and Nico Rosberg (Mercedes AMG) on the first lap. But right throughout the race there mini-battles keeping the focus of the sparse crowd in attendance.
Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) dropped five places on the grid thanks to the dreaded unscheduled gearbox change. That meant he started from P21 and the young Aussie put in a cracking drive to get as high as eighth place. Late in the race wearing tyres were the story for the whole field. Ricciardo would have been disappointed that he had to let Jean-Eric Vergne by to take his eighth place, having previously enjoyed a buffer in excess of 10 seconds. But after starting so far down the pack he’d be very happy with the two points for P9.
It was a dirty day for McLaren, losing Button on the first lap, while Lewis Hamilton struggled with tyre wear as the race developed. In the end he had to complete three pit stops compared to the bulk of the field’s two and could only manage P10. Compounding McLaren’s woes, it appeared as though Hamilton could overtake Ricciardo in the final stages, but the 2008 world champion collected a loose piece of astro turf after running wide at Turn 13 that greatly affected his aero. He did will to hold onto tenth place. The net result of this bad day sees Ferrari overtake them in the constructors’ championship.
Meanwhile the lack of overtaking in the first four places would indicate a relatively placid race, but things really sparked up in the latter stages as that previously mentioned tyre wear took hold. At times Vettel’s race engineer, Guillaume ‘Rocky’ Rocquelin, had to plead with his young charge to slow down as the anti-clockwise circuit took its toll on the right front.
Similarly, Mark Webber was struggling with and it seemed for a moment that Fernando Alonso had judged the race to perfection as he began to close on Webber. Soon the minor places settled back into their rhythm, so much so that Webber set the fastest lap of the race on the penultimate round, and the only query over the result was if Vettel’s right front tyre would last.
Thankfully for the 25-year-old German it did and he was able to safely register his 25th career win. With Red Bull’s late season form, and only four races to go, you’d have to think it would be a major upset if Vettel does not collect his third world championship in succession.
2012 Korean Grand Prix final placings
- Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing) – 25pts
- Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing-Renault) +8.2 secs – 18pts
- Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) +13.9 secs – 15pts
- Felipe Massa (Ferrari) +20.1 secs – 12pts
- Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus) +36.7 secs – 10pts
- Nico Hulkenberg (Force India) +45.3 secs – 8pts
- Romain Grosjean (Lotus) +54.8 secs – 6pts
- Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso) +69.5 secs – 4pts
- Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso) +71.7 secs – 2pts
- Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) +79.6 secs – 1pt
- Sergio Perez (Sauber) +80.0 secs
- Paul di Resta (Force India) +84.4 secs
- Michael Schumacher (Mercedes AMG) +89.2 secs
- Pastor Maldonado (Williams) +94.9 secs
- Bruno Senna (Williams) +96.9 secs
- Vitaly Petrov (Caterham) +1 Lap
- Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham) +1 Lap
- Timo Glock (Marussia) +1 Lap
- Charles Pic (Marussia) +2 Laps
- Narain Karthikeyan (HRT) +2 Laps
Pedro de la Rosa (HRT) – Lap 16
Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber) – Lap 16
Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) – Lap 1
Jenson Button (McLaren) – Lap 1
Fastest lap: Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing), 1:42.037 – Lap 54
2012 World Championship top 10 (Drivers) – Round 16
- Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) – 215
- Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) – 209
- Kimi Räikkönen (Lotus) – 167
- Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) – 153
- Mark Webber (Red Bull) – 152
- Jenson Button (McLaren) – 131
- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes AMG) – 93
- Romain Grosjean (Lotus) – 88
- Felipe Massa (Ferrari) – 81
- Sergio Perez (Sauber) – 66
2012 World Championship (Constructors) – Round 16
- Red Bull Racing-Renault – 367
- Ferrari – 290
- McLaren-Mercedes – 284
- Lotus-Renault – 255
- Mercedes AMG – 136
- Sauber-Ferrari – 116
- Force India-Mercedes – 89
- Williams-Renault – 58
- STR-Ferrari – 21