Ferrari Korean GP - Yeongam - Sunday confirms Saturday with a twist

Ferrari press release

Sunday confirms Saturday with a twist, Indian Grand Prix in two weeks.

When you look in a mirror, you actually see things reversed and that was the story of today’s sixteenth round of the World Championship as far as Scuderia Ferrari was concerned. Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso started the Korean Grand Prix from fifth and sixth on the grid respectively and they finished it in the reverse order, the Spaniard ahead of the Brazilian, for whom this was the 150th race of his Formula 1 career. At the flag, Sebastian Vettel took the win and along with Mark Webber’s third place, it was enough to give Red Bull Racing this year’s Constructors’ title. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton joined them on the podium in second place.

Jenson Button, McLaren Mercedes
Jenson Button, McLaren Mercedes

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At the start, pole man Hamilton in the McLaren was immediately under pressure from Vettel’s Red Bull and the German forced his way through into the lead after the hairpin. Felipe got a great start to move up to third ahead of Button and Webber, but the Brazilian lost out to the Australian before passing the stripe for the first time, to run fourth with team-mate Fernando Alonso behind him in fifth as the Spaniard got ahead of Button.

The gaps were already growing and by lap 6, Vettel led Hamilton by 1.6, with Webber a further 3.1 behind. One second later came Felipe with an identical gap to his team-mate Fernando who had a cushion of 1.5 over Button. Completing the top ten at this stage were Rosberg and Schumacher in the Mercedes and Alguersuari in the Toro Rosso. By lap 8 the battle for third was hotting up as Felipe and Alonso both closed in on Webber. One lap later and Button had tagged on to the back of this group, producing some exciting nose to tail action.

Di Resta started the first run of pit stops for Force India on lap 11. On the next lap, Alonso had a first look at going past his team-mate, but Felipe defended his position. Lap 13 saw Button and Rosberg come in from sixth and seventh and drive side by side out of the pit lane, with the Mercedes at first getting the advantage until the McLaren edged ahead, only to lose position again out on track, with the two men now running 11th and 12th. Webber, Massa Petrov and Schumacher all pitted on lap 14 followed by Buemi. Felipe lost time here as he had to be held on the spot, as Schumacher was driving by. Hamilton pitted from second on lap 15 as did Fernando. Vettel changed tyres on lap 16, which meant Hamilton led from Alguersuari yet to pit, but then a collision between Petrov and Schumacher brought out the Safety Car, so the Toro Rosso man came in on 17 the last driver to change tyres.

Safety car
Safety car

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Behind the SC, the order on lap 18 was now Vettel, Hamilton, Webber, Button, Rosberg, with Felipe and Fernando now sixth and seventh, followed by Alguersuari, Di Resta and Sutil tenth. At the end of lap 20, the debris was cleared, the Safety Car came in and the race was on once again. Button tried to immediately pass Webber, but the move did not work, so the order was as before, although Alguersuari was now eighth behind Fernando having dealt with the Force Indias. Rosberg in fifth was lapping slower than the 150º Italias and so Felipe was right on the tail of the Mercedes with Fernando in line astern. Both Ferrari men were now losing valuable time they would not make up later.

The gaps at the front were smaller too and although Vettel still led, Hamilton was only 1.1 behind. On lap 27, Felipe was close enough for the DRS to help and he dived inside the Mercedes as Rosberg lit up his tyres. This slowed the two men so that Fernando also passed the German and almost took his team-mate too. Rosberg pitted, promoting Alguersuari to seventh, with Sutil, Di Resta and Buemi in the remaining top ten places. The battle for second was hotting up as Webber was closing right up on Hamilton, while the two Ferrari were separated by 1.7.

With Webber all over the back of the McLaren, both men came in to start the second run of stops on lap 33 and emerged from pit lane in the same order as before. The two men ran practically side by side for an entire thrilling lap, while Vettel changed tyres on lap 34, followed down pit lane by Felipe, having made his second stop also, who then lost time again, behind a Force India. Fernando now led on lap 35, not having made his second stop, with Vettel second ahead of the yet to pit Alguersuari and then Hamilton in fourth.

Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari  pit stop
Fernando Alonso, Scuderia Ferrari pit stop

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Fernando came down pit lane on lap 37 followed by Alguersuari and the Spaniard’s stop brought him out just ahead of his team-mate and from this point on they occupied the positions they would keep to the chequered flag. Vettel had a comfortable 10 second lead over the battle between Hamilton and Webber, while Button was fourth ahead of the Ferrari duo. Lap 39 and, with a clear track ahead, Fernando set the fastest lap of the race so far. The Spaniard kept up the pressure as the gap to fourth placed Button came down to 4.9 with 14 laps remaining.

With ten laps remaining, Fernando was 3 seconds behind Button, with Felipe a further 5.6 off his team-mate. But the most excitement was still the battle for second with Webber occasionally pulling alongside Hamilton but never quite managing to do it early enough in the DRS zone to make the move stick. Lap 49 and the Red Bull did get ahead of the McLaren but on the next straight, Hamilton managed to retake second. While Vettel was way out in front, only 2.3 seconds separated second placed Hamilton from Fernando in fifth, so closely matched were the front runners. Jenson Button was fourth ahead of the two Ferrari 150º Italias. The remaining points went to Alguersuari seventh, then Rosberg, Buemi and Di Resta.

In two weeks time, the eagerly awaited Indian Grand Prix makes its debut on the Formula 1 stage, where Scuderia Ferrari will yet again be hoping to secure one more win before the season comes to a close.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Mark Webber , Fernando Alonso , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Sebastian Vettel
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , Mercedes , McLaren , Force India , Toro Rosso
Tags alonso, ferrari, korean gp, massa, yeongam