Race - Vettel storms into title lead with Korean win 14 Oct 2012
Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel may have had some tyre-wear problems towards the end of Sundays Yeongam race, but from outside the cockpit it looked like yet another walk in the park for the defending champion as his third victory in a row moved him into the lead of the world championship fight by six points from Fernando Alonso.
On a damage limitation day, the Spaniard brought his Ferrari home third behind Vettel and his team mate Mark Webber. It was the first time that any team have finished one-two this season.
The Australians pole counted for nothing as Vettel sped down the inside into the first corner, just as Alonso was likewise depriving Lewis Hamilton of third place. Further back, Sergio Perez hit Jenson Buttons McLaren before his Sauber team mate Kamui Kobayashi did the job properly, walloping it twice and sending it into immediate retirement with right-front suspension damage.
Nico Rosberg also sustained a cut left-rear tyre in the incident which accounted for his Mercedes a lap later. As he parked on the run down to Turn Three, the DRS zone was effectively negated for several laps until the silver car could be removed. Later Kobayashi was given a drive-through penalty for causing a collision, and retired as a result of damage his C31 incurred.
Vettel owned the race, controlling Webber easily. Further back, Alonso kept them honest but no more than that, and was lucky that it was team mate Felipe Massa who rode shotgun all the way to the flag after another good race for the Brazilian in which he had greater pace than the Spaniard. Lotuss Kimi Raikkonen was a lonely fifth, while a great drive by Nico Hulkenberg realised sixth place for Force India after a gritty battle with Romain Grosjean in the other Lotus.
McLarens disastrous day saw Hamilton troubled early on with tyre wear and he was the first pit stopper on the 13th lap as he switched from Pirellis super-soft rubber to the softs. He had superb battles with Raikkonen and then Hulkenberg and Grosjean, but that set lasted only until Lap 26. The third set was worn out by Lap 42, which dropped him from contention for sixth place to a fight for eighth with the Toro Rossos.
He pushed Jean-Eric Vergne as hard as he could, but after the Frenchman had reacted by catching and passing team mate Daniel Ricciardo to take an excellent eighth, Hamilton picked up a chunk of astro-turf on his right-hand sidepod. As that affected his MP4-27s aerodynamics he dropped away and was lucky to resist Perez at the flag by a scant 0.3s.
The result puts Ferrari ahead of McLaren in the constructors stakes, 290 points to 284, as Red Bulls great day brought their score to 367.
Force Indias Paul di Resta battled all afternoon with Mercedes Michael Schumacher, but Hulkenbergs performance put him ahead of the Scot in the points table after Di Resta took 12th ahead of Schumacher. Behind them, Williams Pastor Maldonado and Bruno Senna ran wheel-to-wheel for much of the way. The Venezuelan led his team mate home by 1.9s after the Brazilians attempt to pass in Turn Three on the 54th lap was repelled.
The Caterham drivers also had a close race, swapping position on more than one occasion before Vitaly Petrov made it stick as Heikki Kovalainen fell back. They finished 16th and 17th as Timo Glock led Marussia partner Charles Pic in their wake. At one stage the German kept the green and yellow cars honest before falling back.
Narain Karthikeyan was the final finisher in 21st for HRT, as team mate Pedro de la Rosa joined Button, Rosberg and Kobayashi on the list of retirements.
For tickets and travel to 2012 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.