Vettel Helps Secure Constructors’ Title for Red Bull with Victory in Korea


Lewis Hamilton (left) and Sebastian Vettel head into the first corner of the Korean Grand Prix - Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images
Lewis Hamilton (left) and Sebastian Vettel head into the first corner of the Korean Grand Prix - Photo Credit: Mark Thompson/Getty Images

 

Sebastian Vettel took his twentieth F1 victory in Korea today to help Red Bull secure the constructors' championship for the second successive season.

The newly crowned world champion led from the fifth corner of the first lap and drove, untroubled, to his tenth grand prix win of the season.

Lewis Hamilton held off a charging Mark Webber in the closing stages of the race to finish second, whilst McLaren team-mate Jenson Button was fourth. Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa were fifth and sixth and Jaime Alguersuari overtook Nico Rosberg on the final lap to finish seventh.

Sebastien Buemi and Paul di Resta picked up the remaining points whilst Michael Schumacher was taken out of the race by Vitaly Petrov early on.

For the first ever standing start in an F1 race in Korea, pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton got away well off the line. Team-mate Jenson Button got a good start as well, but could not get past second-place man Sebastian Vettel.

Hamilton probably wished that Button had got past Vettel in that opening corner as, a few seconds later, the newly crowned world champion took advantage of Hamilton's slipstream to get past the McLaren driver into Turn 3. Button also went backwards on the opening lap, passed by Felipe Massa, Mark Webber and Fernando Alonso.

The order at the front by the end of the first lap was Vettel leading followed by Hamilton, Webber, Massa, Alonso and Button. Further down the grid, the field did not get away quite as cleanly, with Bruno Senna and Sebastien Buemi dropping the most places after contact with other cars.

Rain was hanging in the air around the circuit in this early stage of the race and, although the super-soft tyres that most of the drivers started on were coming to the end of their useful life, teams did not want to make their first pit stops in case the heavens did open and a set of intermediates were needed instead.

At the end of Lap 10, Vettel had a lead of 2.9 seconds ahead of Hamilton, with Webber a further 4.1 seconds down the road. Kamui Kobayashi and Rubens Barrichello became the first drivers to make a scheduled pit stop.

With no sign of any rain, Button was the first of the front-runners to pit, doing so at the end of Lap 13. Nico Rosberg, who was just behind Button on the track, pitted at the same time. He came out of his pit box before Button, and the two raced side-by-side down the pit lane. Rosberg seemed to have track position, but out-braked himself as he came back onto the track. This allowed Button to reclaim the position, but only until the long straight, when Rosberg re-took the position once again. Next time round though, Button got his own back in the DRS zone.

Webber and Massa were in the pits on the next lap, and Hamilton and Alonso followed one lap later, at the end of Lap 15. Vettel was in on the next lap.

Whilst Vettel was exiting the pits, Michael Schumacher was the innocent party in a collision with Vitaly Petrov around Turn 3. The rear-wing on the Mercedes was completely destroyed, and Schumacher had to park his car on the side of the track. Petrov got back round to the pits but, with a broken steering arm, was also unable to continue. This incident will be investigated by stewards after the race.

The amount of debris from that incident brought out the safety car, and the drivers yet to make their first stop dived into the pits. After all these pit stops, Vettel was still leading from Hamilton and Webber was third. Button and Rosberg had got past the two Ferrari drivers in the pits, and were running fourth and fifth. Massa was still ahead of Alonso in sixth. The safety car came in at the end of Lap 20.

Rosberg lost out to the two Ferrari's at the end of Lap 26 when he out-braked himself into the final corner. Both Massa and Alonso got through, and Rosberg dived into the pits at the end of the lap. Meanwhile, at the front, Hamilton had narrowed the gap to Vettel and was just over a second behind the German. Webber, who had taken on the prime tyre in his first slot, had actually closed to within a second of the leading pair, who were both on their second set of option tyres.

At just over half distance, Vettel's lead was 1.3 seconds over Hamilton. Webber was 0.8 seconds further back in third whilst Button, who was in fourth, was now 6.9 seconds off the lead of the grand prix.

A couple of laps later, and Webber was all over the back of the Hamilton. The Brit managed to keep the Red Bull driver behind him, and the pair pitted from second and third at the end of the Lap 33. The pair's out-lap was one continuous battle for position but Hamilton remained ahead – just.

Vettel and Button pitted on the following lap. Vettel came out ahead of the Hamilton/Webber battle, and Button came out just behind it. Alonso, who was yet to make his second stop, was out in the lead.

Alonso came in for his second and final stop at the end of Lap 37, and came out of the pits ahead of his team-mate and into a net fifth place.

In the closing stages of the race, it was the on-going battle between Hamilton and Webber which garnered most of the attention. Webber seemed unable to do anything about the great traction and straight-line speed of the McLaren whilst, all the time, Button was watching on from fourth position.

On Lap 49, Webber did actually manage to get past Hamilton into the first corner, but Hamilton got that second place back into the back straight with ease.  Whilst this was going on, Vettel was continuing to build a steady lead – on Lap 50 the gap to Hamilton was 11.8 seconds.