Fernando Alonso has today, lost his grip on the championship, as Sebastian Vettel wins the Korean Grand Prix, to make it three wins in a row for the German, who keeps going from strength to strength. The RB8 is the fastest car in Formula One at the moment, and it would take a brave man to bet against Vettel claiming his third world championship in succession, after today’s dominant performance.
Vettel, managed to fend off Webber on the opening lap, and in typical fashion, construct a lead over a short space of time, to avert the threat of the DRS. The win appeared to be one which was never in doubt, yet an anxious pit-wall suggested otherwise. Throughout the race, graining had been spotted on the right front tyre, and in the first stint, this forced Sebastian into an early stop. During the closing stages, Rocky deployed several radio messages, informing the leader that he needed to slow down. The right front was supposedly reaching critical levels of wear, and as a result, Vettel cruised home. However, later it emerged that this was merely a ploy designed by Christian Horner, in order to deter Vettel from taking the fastest lap, and putting the win at risk. An intelligent move, from the team.
Mark Webber, made it a Red Bull 1-2, increasing the teams chances of taking their third constructors title in a row. The Aussie pushed to keep up with Sebastian, yet began to loose time in the second stint. He was fortunate to remain clear of a fast charging, Fernando Alonso at the end of the race, yet did so, by setting the fastest lap. In the press conference after the race, Webber stated that the championship is now an impossibility for him, yet he also emphasized that he will continue to push for race wins, as well as aid the progression of his teammate, wherever possible.
Ferrari performed well, yet could not match the pace of the Red Bull’s. There is nothing wrong with the F2012, according to Alonso, but the RB8 is simply stronger at this point in the season. Alonso, managed to gain another podium today, to add to his collection, whilst Massa has all but guaranteed his future with Ferrari, with a solid 4th place. The Brazilian may have had the speed to challenge Webber, however, chose to not challenge his teammate. Felipe is clearly a team player, and his attitude as well as performance, should be enough to convince Ferrari to keep their current driver line up. Do not be surprised if Felipe signs a new contract within this week.
Lotus were a team who performed well all weekend. Raikkonen, was able to convert his solid qualifying into a 5th place, while Romain Grosjean escaped any collisions to finish seventh. The Frenchman was involved in a race long battle with Nico Hulkenburg. The Force India finished in 6th, after making a fantastic move on both Hamilton and Grosjean into turn 4. Rumors in the paddock are suggesting that Nico could sign for Sauber in the very near future, as the team search for a replacement for Sergio Perez.
Despite his 5th place, Kimi complained after the race regarding the new exhaust system. The Lotus appeared to be down on power, and Raikkonen suggested that this was the reason for the delay of the move on Lewis Hamilton. The time lost behind the McLaren compromised Kimi’s chance of catching the Ferrari’s. Whether Lotus will revert back to the older, more powerful exhaust package, is yet to be disclosed. The chances are, Kimi will have to manage the issue, as circuits such as India and Brazil will require a high downforce setup.
Kamui Kobayashi has heaped further pressure on his seat at Sauber today, as a first lap incident with Button and Rosberg, took all three of them out of the race. Heading into turn 3, Kamui lost control, and collided with both the McLaren and Mercedes under braking. After the fantastic result in Japan, Kobayashi required another good performance here, yet today’s calamity has opened the door for Esterban Gutierrez, who is a prime candidate to claim the seat next season. On current form, it may not be out of the question, that Sauber may ‘bench’ Kobayashi for the remainder of the season, and allow young Esterban some time within the team. The fact that he has a super-license already makes this an even greater possibility.
Williams, who have struggled all weekend, have confirmed that they have a fundamental issue regarding the front wing. The drivers have been complaining of a on/off aero re-balance which is out of the teams control. Williams refuse to disclose any more information, yet assure supporters that developments to improve the malfunction are currently in progress. 14th and 15th position today, underlines the scale of the issue at hand.
Finally, after Button’s lap 1 issue, Lewis Hamilton suffered a disaster race, from his excellent 3rd in qualifying. The Brit had to complete the race with a rear anti roll-bar failure, from the first stint. Subsequently, the McLaren ate into his rear tyres quickly, and Hamilton required three stops, which put him down to P10. To add to his woes, Lewis picked up a large chunk of astro-turf which had been torn up earlier. The carpet attached to his sidepod, and the subsequent loss of downforce meant that he could not challenge the pair of Toro Rosso’s ahead of him. Taking one point away from Korea was not a goal for McLaren, who drop to 3rd in the constructors championship.