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Korea analysis - Alonso back in the driving seat 25 Oct 2010

Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 Second placed Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01 and Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30 battle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) Force India F1 VJM03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB6 retires from the lead of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010

A couple of months back many had ruled Fernando Alonso out of the title fight. The Ferrari driver maintained he could still do it and after his faultless drive to the top of the table in Korea - his third win in four races - his doubters are now eating their words. The Spaniard’s brilliance in Yeongam’s testing conditions, combined with a disastrous day for Red Bull, means that with just two rounds to go he heads the standings by 11 points, while in the constructors’ stakes Ferrari now trail second-placed McLaren by only 25. We take a team-by-team look at Sunday’s epic race…

Ferrari
Fernando Alonso, P1
Felipe Massa, P3

Alonso did a masterful job of managing Bridgestone’s wet and intermediate tyres as he carried the fight to Vettel and Red Bull and then took control when the German’s engine failed. He is the first driver to win five races this year, and a third title looks ever more likely. Massa matched Alonso’s pace at times, but later struggled on his intermediates. Nevertheless, third place was a fillip, and helped Ferrari back into contention in the constructors’ chase, with 374 points to Red Bull’s 426 and McLaren’s 399.

McLaren
Lewis Hamilton, P2
Jenson Button, P12

Hamilton fought all the way to the end and thoroughly deserved second place in a McLaren that had the legs of the Ferrari in the first two sectors but lost everything and more to it in the third. By the end his intermediates were rooted, but he was very happy to score some decent points and to keep his title aspirations alive. Button, by contrast had a terrible afternoon. He was very unlucky with the timing of his pit stop, dropping from sixth to 15th as rivals ahead lucked into the third safety car and didn’t lose places. Then he got shoved off by Sutil, and for the rest of the race he said he had zero grip. His championship chances are, by his own admission, almost over.

Mercedes GP
Michael Schumacher, P4
Nico Rosberg, Retired lap 19, accident

Mercedes were desperately unlucky when Rosberg, having overtaken Hamilton for fourth on the first racing lap, got taken out in Webber’s accident. But Schumacher drove a lonely but solid race to fourth.

Renault
Robert Kubica, P5
Vitaly Petrov, Retired lap 40, accident

Renault had a good and a day. Kubica struggled massively for grip on the full wet tyres, but found his R30 a far better proposition on the intermediates and fought through to take fifth place in the closing stages. Petrov again blotted his copybook with another very heavy shunt.

Force India
Tonio Liuzzi, P6
Adrian Sutil, Retired lap 47, accident

A good and bad day here, too. Liuzzi drove a fabulous race and was closing on Kubica for fifth, having set fifth-fastest race lap, when passing Barrichello delayed him even though it gave him a place. His was one of the drives of the race, from 18th on the grid. Sutil seemed to have so many incidents: a spin, shoving Button off track, running wide after overbraking, and finally crashing into Kobayashi and taking himself out. Just to compound a bad day at the office, the stewards gave him a five-place grid penalty for Brazil… But the team hung on ahead of Williams in the constructors’ battle, 68 points to 65.

Williams
Rubens Barrichello, P7
Nico Hulkenberg, P10

At one stage Williams seemed set for fifth and sixth places, after Barrichello had lucked in with the third safety-car intervention at Hulkenberg’s expense. On lap 51 the latter pitted for fresh tyres after picking up a slow puncture, losing sixth, then Barrichello slipped from fifth to seventh a lap later as his tyres were way past their best. In the constructors’ stakes, the team are three points adrift of Force India.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, P8
Nick Heidfeld, P9

Both drivers had their usual adventurous time, fighting each other and anyone else who was close. At times that meant Sutil, and things didn’t always go well on that front. The German eventually crashed into the Japanese, whose C29 was fortunately undamaged. Heidfeld had previously lost a place to the Force India as his mirrors were so dirty he couldn’t see where it was.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, P11
Sebastien Buemi, Retired lap 31, accident

Buemi earned himself a five-place grid penalty for Brazil after losing it under braking for Turn Three and clobbering Glock, while Alguersuari fought hard but once again lost a championship point in the dying moments to a rival who’d pitted for fresh rubber.

Lotus
Heikki Kovalainen, P13
Jarno Trulli, Retired lap 26, hydraulics

Lotus once again won the new teams’ race, but Kovalainen was losing ground to Glock until the German got taken out. Trulli spun in the first corner, later hit Senna, and retired with a power steering hydraulics problem.

HRT
Bruno Senna, P14
Sakon Yamamoto, P15

No big deals here, though Senna was lucky to emerge unscathed after assault by Trulli. His 14th place then helped lift HRT out of last place in the constructors’ standings, into 11th ahead of Virgin.

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, Retired lap 46, engine
Mark Webber, Retired lap 19, accident

How much worse could Korea have been for Red Bull? They started from the front row, but Webber crashed on the second racing lap (19), and later Vettel’s engine broke on lap 46 when he seemed to have the race, and the championship lead, in the bag. The only consolation is that they still lead the constructors’ battle, with 426 points, but Webber is now second to Alonso, Vettel fourth.

Virgin
Timo Glock, Retired lap 31, accident
Lucas di Grassi, Retired lap 26, accident

A tough race for Virgin. Just when things looked rosy, as Glock held a good 12th place early on, assault from Buemi took him out. Di Grassi also crashed, when he got short-braked by one of the HRTs.

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