Vettel seals victory at Korean GP to take championship lead

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel snatched the lead from his team mate and pole sitter, Mark Webber as the FIA Formula One 2012 Korean Grand Prix got underway today. The German took first place from the Australian as the race got the go ahead and he remained there all the way to the chequered flag to take the victory.

“I think it was a perfect day for me and the team… 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”, commented Vettel.

We have to just keep it simple and do our job.

Sebastian Vettel

As well as experiencing the taste of success by winning the race, the reigning double world champion, Vettel also has reason to celebrate the fact that in doing so, he will now take over the lead in the hunt for the Drivers’ title from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso by a small margin of six points. The Spaniard failed to catch the Red Bull duo during the race, which meant he had to settle for third place and took the final spot on the podium.

Alonso’s Brazilian team mate, Felipe Massa demonstrated good form throughout the race, but just missed out on a top three finish and secured fourth place for himself.

Red Bull and Ferrari’s other closest championship rivals, McLaren, had an up and down race and misfortune came for Jenson Button before the proceedings had barely begun. The 2009 World Champion received an unexpected double attack from the Sauber pair.

Kamui Kobayashi was the first to strike as he suddenly ran into Button, which caused terminal damage to the Englishman’s right front tyre and saw him make an early exit from the race. Before Button led his car to safety off the track, Kobayashi’s Mexican team mate, Sergio Perez added to the damage and tapped Button’s car from behind.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing

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Despite being the cause of Button’s swift exit from the race, Kobayashi’s car came through fairly unscathed after pitting for a tyre change on lap two he continued in the race. The Japanese driver was forced to face the consequences of his actions though and the stewards issued him with a drive through penalty for causing the collision on lap eight. After serving his punishment Kobayashi found himself at the back of the field in 22nd place.

Kobayashi rapidly went from hero at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix and picking up 3rd place to zero today and retired from the race on lap 18, as he was seen being pushed into the garage in his car. From then on Kobayashi’s team mate, Perez was the sole Sauber remaining in the race. Despite going on until the end of the grand prix, Perez just missed out on the points and had to settle for 11th place in the end.

As well as Button retiring from the race as a result of the incident at the start, Mercedes driver, Nico Rosberg was another casualty and his car suffered left rear tyre damage in addition the radiator at the same time. This quickly spelt the end of the German’s race and he accompanied Button in retirement from the rest of today’s racing action.

Fernando Alonso, Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, Ferrari

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Button’s team mate and fellow countryman, Lewis Hamilton was left flying the flag for the McLaren team for the rest of the race. The 2008 World Champion had troubles of his own, including a mechanical balance change which caused him concern on lap 23.

Prior to this, Hamilton expressed worries via the team radio regarding a lack of down force and tyre wear. There was more misfortune to come when there was a slight delay during his pit stop on lap 27 with the right front tyre being fitted to his car. Hamilton had to spend even more time off the track, when he was forced to make a third pit stop on lap 41 for a further tyre change.

As Hamilton approached the final couple of laps left in the race, he ran wide on lap 53 which resulted in him collecting debris in the form of artificial grass from the edge of the track. With the additional material attached to the side and underneath of his car, Hamilton had to nurse it to the finish line and could only to enough for the final top 10 point scoring position.

Due to the unfortunate outcome of today’s race for the McLaren duo, the team has now dropped to third place in the Constructors’ standings and allowed Ferrari to take over second place for now by just six points.

Aside from the battle between the top Championship contenders, Lotus Renault’s Kimi Raikkonen finished the race where he started and just behind the group in fifth place.

Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1
Nico Hulkenberg, Sahara Force India F1

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Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg impressed with his solid and competitive performance during the race. The German spotted an opportunity to pass Hamilton for sixth place on lap 41 after Lotus Renault’s Romain Grosjean’s attempt failed. Hulkenberg remained in sixth place as he crossed the line at the finish and Grosjean followed behind him. Despite eventually making it to the end of the Grand Prix together, the pair nearly found themselves a little too close for comfort in the pits on lap 15. Hulkenberg had the upper hand over Grosjean after getting out ahead of the Frenchman. As Grosjean emerged from his pit box the two drivers narrowly managed to avoid contact in the pits.

There were two unfamiliar faces also picking up points in the top 10 at the end of the race. Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne collected four points for himself after securing eighth place. The Frenchman’s team mate, Daniel Ricciardo managed to recover from his gearbox penalty when he dropped five places as a result and this meant he had to start from 21st place. The Australian completed the 55 lap marathon just ahead of Hamilton and landed a ninth place finish overall.

Unlike Hulkenberg having a close encounter with Grosjean after their pits stops and scraps for position, his Scottish team mate, Paul Di Resta had a fairly hassle free Grand Prix. He crossed the line to take 12th place, which meant he just missed out on the points but pipped Mercedes driver, Michael Schumacher in the process who picked up 13th place in the end. The German was running well and having competitive scraps for position throughout the race, but on lap 52 the seven time World Champion expressed concern over the team radio about a possible gearbox problem. Schumacher was soon reassured there was nothing to worry about and he went on to finish the race in any case.

Vitaly Petrov, Caterham F1 Team
Vitaly Petrov, Caterham F1 Team

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The Williams duo seemed to keep themselves out of the limelight for most of the race. Pastor Maldonado quietly came through the field and remarkably made only one pit stop throughout the proceedings. The Venezuelan driver also achieved a personal best time on his final lap en-route to the chequered flag. Maldonado came in 14th place just behind Schumacher but beat his Brazilian team mate, Bruno Senna to a higher position in the process.

Where the backmarkers were concerned, Caterham’s Vitaly Petrov triumphed over his Finnish team mate, Heikki Kovalainen. The Russian driver not only qualified ahead of Kovalainen but he also went on to make it a rare occasion and finished ahead of him to take 16th place.

Marussia’s Timo Glock came next and secured 18th place from himself ahead of his French team mate, Charles Pic who started the race at the back of the field due to serving his penalty for exceeding the engine allowance for the season.

Hispania Racing’s Narain Karthikeyan was the sole car of the team to finish the race and he did so in 20th position. Karthikeyan’s Spanish team mate, Pedro de la Rosa was seen in his car being pushed back into the garage on lap 18.

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing
Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull Racing

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With the sport being known for the unexpected, the results could have been different as the race was coming to a close. There was concern raised via Vettel’s team radio on the penultimate lap that his right front tyre was going off. Fortunately, Vettel did not have far to go and he cruised across the finish line, to make it a hatric of race victories in a row so far this season and his second win at the Yeongam circuit.

Vettel is known for being a fan of statistics and adding to his growing record and in winning the race, he takes over the lead in the driver points from Alonso, for the first time since the fifth race of the season at the Spanish Grand Prix. Vettel has also picked up his 25th career win to date and if today’s result is anything to go by, it likely that he will have a few more race victories in his sights, now he leads again and aims to be crowned a triple World Champion at the end of the season.

The drivers and teams now have two weeks to prepare until their next challenge as they head to New Delhi for the Indian Grand Prix. It is certain that the top two drivers battling it out for the title in particular, will be going all out to take another race victory and in the case of Vettel, preventing Alonso from taking the points lead again.

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About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Jenson Button , Pedro de la Rosa , Michael Schumacher , Mark Webber , Kimi Raikkonen , Fernando Alonso , Narain Karthikeyan , Lewis Hamilton , Felipe Massa , Nico Rosberg , Heikki Kovalainen , Timo Glock , Pastor Maldonado , Sebastian Vettel , Bruno Senna , Kamui Kobayashi , Vitaly Petrov , Nico Hulkenberg , Sergio Perez , Romain Grosjean , Daniel Ricciardo , Charles Pic , Jean-Eric Vergne
Teams Ferrari , Red Bull Racing , Mercedes , Sauber , McLaren , Force India , Toro Rosso , Williams , Caterham F1
Article type Race report
Tags alonso, featured, ferrari, korea, massa, mclaren, red bull, renault, vettel, webber