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Flashback: Korea '10 - Alonso masters rain, Red Bull self-destruct 01 Oct 2013

Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10 crosses the line.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 The start of the race under the Safety Car.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 Safety car leads the race.
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 leads at the green flag.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 The Red Bull Racing RB6 of Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing after he crashed out of the race.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10 leads Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren MP4/25.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 Race action
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 The wrecked car of Vitaly Petrov (RUS) Renault R30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Sunday, 24 October 2010 Race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10.
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 Podium (L to R): Second placed Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren, race winner Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari and third placed Felipe Massa (BRA) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 17, Korean Grand Prix, Race, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, Sout

There are no easy wins in Formula One racing - something Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso would no doubt attest to following an eventful first race at Yeongam back in 2010. On the eve of the 2013 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix, we remember a race in which Alonso had to overcome not just his rivals, but treacherous weather conditions, extended safety-car periods and fading light...

When the Formula One fraternity arrived in Yeongam for the inaugural Korean Grand Prix in October 2010, the championship was on a knife edge. With 16 of the 19 rounds completed, Red Bull’s Mark Webber led the race for the drivers’ crown, but his team mate Sebastian Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso were both just 14 points back, with McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton a further 14 behind them.

However, in an intense year when momentum had swung repeatedly back-and-forth, it was obvious things wouldn’t stay the same for long, and indeed the championship picture would look very different by the time the teams waved goodbye to Korea…

Friday practice saw the teams and drivers stepping into the unknown as they got their first taste of the brand new, 18-turn Korea International Circuit. With set-ups being honed and corners learned, it wasn’t until qualifying on Saturday afternoon that the real pecking order was exposed, and unsurprisingly it was the title contenders who filled the first four spots on the grid - Vettel, Webber, Alonso and Hamilton (in that order).

The stage was thus set for a mouth-watering contest, but the weather had other ideas. On race day, with 100,000 expectant spectators waiting in the newly-constructed grandstands, the heavens opened and swiftly turned the circuit from race track into something resembling a swimming pool. Would the Grand Prix be able to start?

After careful deliberation, the action was tentatively started behind the safety car, the drivers splashing their way slowly around the 5.6 kilometres of sodden asphalt. But no sooner were things underway than they were reassembling on the grid and switching off their engines - it was simply too wet to continue, even behind the safety car.

After almost an hour of silence, engines were fired up once more and the race was re-started, again behind the safety car. Seventeen slow laps passed before the drivers were finally unleashed from behind its flashing lights and an un-obscured Vettel immediately sprinted into the lead, showering spray over those in his wake. Webber held second with Alonso third and Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg deposing McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton for fourth.

But disaster soon struck the first of Red Bull’s title contenders. Coming through the tricky right-handed Turn 12, Webber ran wide over the exit kerbs and his RB6 snapped sideways. For a moment he appeared to have the car back under his control, but the Renault-powered machine refused to comply and pitched him heavily into the barriers. Worse was to come as the car bounced off the inside wall and into the path of the onrushing Rosberg.

Both drivers were eliminated on the spot and the safety car was deployed yet again while the mess was cleared up. It returned to the pits on Lap 24, whereupon Vettel resumed control ahead of Alonso and Hamilton.

After making their pit stops between Laps 31 and 32, Hamilton jumped Alonso for second - the Spaniard was delayed after arriving slightly sideways in his box, making it difficult for mechanics to reach the right-front wheel. But before long they were racing under the safety car again as Toro Rosso’s Sebastien Buemi clumsily took out Virgin’s Timo Glock on the 31st lap under braking for Turn 3.

As racing resumed on the 35th lap, Hamilton ran wide in Turn 1 as his front wheels were locking, and in an instant the wily Alonso capitalised and moved up to second. Vitaly Petrov spectacularly shunted Renault out of the action on Lap 39 of 55, but despite the carnage around them, up front the race order of Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton seemed settled, as the Red Bull driver built a lead of some 2.7s.

But slowly Alonso and Hamilton began to move in, the Spaniard in particular cutting into Vettel’s advantage as the German complained over the radio about worsening visibility. The race had been so delayed that the daylight was rapidly dwindling and with the Red Bull’s tyres in worse shape than the Ferrari’s, an early finish would play into Vettel’s hands.

Alas, the race continued, and then, on the 46th lap, Red Bull’s worst nightmare came true as their second title contender was forced out. It happened in stages: first Alonso’s Ferrari dived inside Vettel’s car at Turn 1 to take the lead; then - a few hundred metres further on - the Red Bull’s Renault engine let go.

The race was now Alonso’s to lose, but though Hamilton gave it everything he had, annihilating the Ferrari in the first two sectors, Alonso was able to make it all back in the final one. Towards the end Hamilton dropped back, keeping a badly worn right-front intermediate tyre alive, and the Briton was 14.9s adrift as a delighted Alonso crossed the line in the last throws of daylight to become the inaugural Korean Grand Prix winner. It was his third victory in four races and moved him into pole position in the championship race.

The battle for the drivers’ title would rage on for another two nail-biting races before eventually falling Vettel’s way, but on that rain-swept day in Korea, Alonso had proven his championship class.

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