Alonso has third title in sight after Korean GP triumph

2010 Korean Grand Prix reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

A masterclass display in treacherous conditions gave Fernando Alonso a vital victory in Korea.

But he was helped by Sebastian Vettel suffering another car failure late in the race.

Lewis Hamilton finished second but let a chance for victory slip through his fingers by going off the track after the third and final restart.

Heavy rain in the lead-up to the race meant the start was delayed by over an hour. This led to a minor war of words conducted over the team radios between drivers urging a start to the race – mainly Hamilton – and those who opposed it – including the Red Bull drivers, Alonso and Robert Kubica.

The safety car finally peeled off after 17 laps, leaving the Red Bulls at the front of the pack, Vettel leading Mark Webber and Alonso.

Having lobbied for an earlier start to the race Hamilton didn’t get away well at the restart and was quickly passed by Nico Rosberg.

That proved to be a blessing in disguise, for after just two laps of green flag running the championship leader Mark Webber astonishingly lost control of his car at turn 14. His RB6 swung back across the track and harpooned Rosberg.

That brought the safety car out once more, with Alonso now up to second behind Vettel, and Hamilton up to third. Their team mates were behind them, Felipe Massa ahead of Jenson Button, but after the next restart Michael Schumacher neatly lined up Button for a pass.

Button never looked happy on his full wet tyres so he made an early switch to intermediates. But just two laps later the safety car was out again, allowing the cars in front of him to switch to intermediates without any risk of falling behind him.

That included team mate Hamilton, who made it into the pits at short notice first while Vettel and Alonso were already heading past the pit lane.

The safety car allowed Vettel and Alonso past quickly – avoiding a repeat of Valencia – but a slow pit stop for Alonso allowed Hamilton into second.

He didn’t hold the place for long. Before the safety car came in he warned him team he was concerned about grip and at the restart he ran wide at the first corner. That allowed Alonso past, leaving Hamilton defending from Massa.

The top three continued in that order, Vettel pulling away to begin with, then Hamilton catching them back up again. A three-way battle was developing for the lead – but suddenly it was extinguished.

Coming past the pits Vettel slowed and Alonso dived past at turn one. The RB6 came to a stop on the approach to turn three and for the second time in 2010 Vettel had been robbed of a likely win by a car failure.

In the closing stages of the race tyre wear came into play. Alonso seemed to have looked after his tyres beautifully and by the end of the race was up to four seconds per laps faster than the cars behind.

He tiptoed around the final lap to win the inaugural Korean Grand Prix and claim a priceless 25 points on a day when both Red Bull drivers failed to score.

Hamilton salvaged second, and perhaps his only consolation for going off after the final safety car period was that Alonso would probably have passed him anyway.

Massa took third after a quiet race, although he came close to spinning off at the same place as Webber. Schumacher matched his best finish of the year with fourth.

Kubica nicked fifth of Rubens Barrichello in the closing stages, and Vitantonio Liuzzi followed him through for an excellent sixth.

Kamui Kobayashi was fortunate to finish eighth after being hit by Adrian Sutil.

The final point went to Nico H???lkenberg despite a late pit stop for more intermediate tyres after going off.

Jaime Alguersuari was 11th ahead of Button, whose championship chances are in tatters are failing to score. He was another victim of Sutil, who bundled him off the track at turn five. The Force India driver later made race-ending contact with Kobayashi. The last runners were Heikki Kovalainen and the two HRTs, Bruno Senna ahead of Sakon Yamamoto.

Vitaly Petrov also crashed out of the race, spinning into the barriers at the final corner. Yellow flags remained at the spot for several laps but race control avoided sending the Safety Car out again.

If they had the race certainly wouldn’t have gone the distance. Darkness had fallen and there were only a few minutes left on the clock when Alonso finished the 55th lap of a race that lasted over two and three-quarter hours.

The Ferrari driver now holds the upper hand, having pulled 11 points clear with just two races remaining in 2010.

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239 comments on “Alonso has third title in sight after Korean GP triumph”

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  1. I’m not an Alonso fan but I can honestly say that the title is all but his. He’s just so good when he’s out infront and the one thing he lacked at the start/middle part of season is there in bundles now. That thing is consistency and thats why he is a worthy world champion because he never gave up and always makes sure he gets the most out of every race. (and this is being written by a lewis fan)

  2. Why Alonso wasn’t investigated for doing a purple S3 and a flap under yellow after PET’s crash?

    1. Overtaking under yellow flag is not allowed, but there’s no definite rule about speed. Stop clutching at straws.

    2. He probably slowed enough and blitzed the rest of the sector.

      dec, why does he have to be a Hamilton fan? There are 22 other drivers apart from these two…

      1. Was it a local yellow? in that case he can go as fast as he wants in other sectors

        1. It was a local yellow in S3. PET crashed in last corner.
          FYI I’m not any Fanboi but i like Alonso

      2. Yeah maybe. But i think you have to take the last corner at full speed to set a purple S3

  3. great result for ferrari. they said before the race they wanted to first finish and then score well. they knew it was not the best track for their car.

    interesting to see that in 7 races, alonso went from 52 points behind hamilton (leader after silverstone) to championship leader. remember the comments of that time when he was saying that he could still win the title!
    same for ferrari as a team, they were 113 points behind, it is now down to 52.

  4. My subjective view about some drivers:
    Rosberg – great performance until unlucky crash
    Schumacher – truly class, pleasure to watch him, great job.
    Vettel – also doing good job, robbed like Rosberg of great result
    Massa – he delivered better than expected. Almost error-free, scored beatiful result for Ferrari.
    Alonso – did great job to help his fortune and was deservedly awarded (kind of justice after earlier misfortunes)
    Hamilton – he also showed he wants to be a champion, great perfomance despite two mistakes (lost two times his position to Rosberg and to Alonso.
    Kubica – dissappointed. Cannot compete with Schumacher in the rain. Gained later due to care about tyres.
    Petrov – his best performance so far despite unfinihsed race, but what counts he makes mistakes too often. He delivered another costly finish for Renault.

    1. I cant agree with the MSC & Kubica points.

      Mercs were CLEARLY faster in the wet (did you see what Rosberg did to Hamilton?), I’m betting a wet setup. Similar to Williams, who were astoundingly fast in the first, very wet, part of the race.

      When it started to dry around the track, interns on those cars stopped behaving like they were supposed to. Hence the sudden problem of both Williams drivers and Schumacher (his lap times dropped strong in the last 5-6 laps). In the meantime, Kubica flourished.

      1. To be fair to Hulkenburg, he had a slow puncture (according to their website)

      2. Kubica didn’t really flourish at any point, it was a fairly average weekend for him.

        1. David – I’ve noticed you are prejudiced to Kubica – are you German? Kubica showed two skills during this race, which are crucial for outstanding drivers: Car controling which has no grip, because of low temperature of the tires and wise strategic planning of tires condition at the end of the race. Once again Kubica showed he has head on his shoulders.

          1. No, I am not German, nor I am prejudiced against Kubica. I am getting sick of the assumptions made about me simply because I don’t blindly sing praises at Kubica for everything he does.

            He did well to pick up the points this weekend, but was quiet, not very fast in the first half of the race and just didn’t drive as well this weekend as he did at say, Australia, Monaco or Suzuka. So by his standards, average drive.

          2. I never said he hasn’t been good this season. This weekend he was not A+. More like B-.

        2. David, i agree with you 100% . I can’t say i was highly impressed by him today. I have also noticed how people are always so quick to shower praises on him, calling him the best driver on the grid blah blah blah. He’s good but not as good as people make/wish him to be and i don’t think the Renault is as bad as it is made out to be.

          1. While i can understand why you don’t like the Kubica hype, you kind of missed my point.

            I’m almost 99% sure both mercs and possibly Williams too were set to wet conditions. The upper hand both Rosberg and Schumacher had was obvious, they did overtaking on both McLarens (whose drivers are known for good in-the-wet skills) with relative ease. So you cannot really compare “skills” of drivers that weekend seeing they opted for different scenarios.

  5. Hope that RBR will support 100% Mark Webber for the last two races!
    the others are out, he can still do it

  6. Lewis Hamilton finished second but let a chance for victory slip through his fingers by going off the track after the third and final restart.

    I had forgotten that… Hamilton could have won the race. *sighs*

    1. totally agree with you, some of the stuff written isa bit weird to be fair…

    2. The state his tyres were in at the end, I don’t think so. I did wonder if McLaren should have pitted him again halfway to the end of the race, but maybe there would have been traffic and they weren’t confident of getting him past Massa again, let alone catching Alonso.

  7. I believe I saw Helmut Marko kissing Vettels ass as he returned to the pits after another car failure, Mark Webber will always be shown “the finger” while Sebs still there, don’t get your hopes up people

    1. poor webber, I felt sooooo sorry for him but he might be feeling slightly better now that his team mate has ended up with no point either….totally agree with you however, i actually think the whole team has been backing vettel ever since the “front wing steal incident”. Red bull may loose this championship if they carry on backing the wrong person…just like Mclaren did in 2007.

  8. vettel deserved this win more than anyone!! its a shame!! we could have had an epic championship battle during the final stages!!lots of good luck to vettel for the future!!!,no one could even keep up with his blistering pace in the wet!!!

    1. No one could even keep up? err… both Alonso and Hamilton were only 2 or 3 seconds behind him when he had the failure and catching up…

  9. You have to remember a race like that is a race of attrition. Webber made a mistake, Vettels car couldn’t take it, Button wasn’t fast enough. Therefore Hamilton and Alonso were the best Driver/Car combo, and they reaped the rewards

  10. Strange no one has still praised Liuzzi, started 18th and ended 6th, committing only one error, and gaining advantage on everyone else’s mistakes, and shining against Sutil, started 14th and retired after numerous crashes and mistakes that kept me without breath because I was worried for other drivers like Button and Kobayashi that were hit by him.

    1. So nearly took out either a Sauber of his team mate on a restart though.

    2. Poor guy being overshadowed by the crashing bulls! :P

    3. I thought Liuzzi’s was one of the stand-out drives today. For all the grief he gets from people who want Paul di Resta to replace him, he did a great job in difficult conditions.

      Unlike his teammate, as you say.

      1. It doesn’t really surprise me tbh. Apparently his car control is second to none but he sucks at getting the setup right

      2. How can you judge Luizzi by one race performance? and say that he deserves this seat for next season. For every one solid performance Luizzi puts in, he has approximately 5 poor ones. Sutil on the other hand, has one dismal performance for every 5 strong performances. I still think Luizzi should be replaced by DiResta next year.

  11. You forgot to mention Hidefeld’s 9th place!

  12. Wasn’t that Vettel’s last engine (engine number eight)?
    If it is, he will receive a ten-place grid penalty for Brazil, right?

    1. According to F1Wolf, then yes he will.

      1. I don’t think so, he surely has workable used engines.

        Apart from Lewis, the three WDC leaders (Fernando, Mark and Seb) have run out of spare engines.

        An engine breakup while racing at Interlagos would be a disaster for any of them, because they would get a DNF there and the grid penalty for Abu Dabhi on top of that. A breakup in Abu Dhabi wouldn’t be that bad because I don’t think the grid penalty can be made effective in a new season.

        1. They all have more than 1 used engine, a blow up in Brazil doen not necessarily mean a penalty in Abu D

      2. He can use Engine 7 twice more, problem is it’s done two races already, so he might have to take a 9th!

        1. nº 7 has done only 1 race (Spa), nº 6, 2. He’s used nº8 in the last 4 races (3 wins)…

  13. I’d have to say that I have mixed feelings about this race. As a McLaren fan, I was of course glad to see Hammilton take second, and claw back a few points, but I’d still have to rate his chances to win this year’s championship as pretty slim. And while I certainly applaud Alonso’s superb drive, if it’s to come down to a showdown between him and Webber for the big prize, I’d rather Webber had stayed on track and kept the points lead. Oh well.

    As far as Vettle is concerned, I didn’t much mind seeing his engine detonate. His day will come.

  14. I doubt so people, as Fernando Definetely has the momentum now, but the season is changing way too quickly that anyone can predict. 1 dnf saw web falling to 2nd and all previous lead behind wiped off.

    ALO is on used engines, so we could see hamilton being lucky after whole string of misadventures from italy to japan.

    Hamilton still has a new engine (if im not wrong) and i think his engine wil be in better state because lets not forget he did not finish the power circuits, Monza, which places the engine on high percentage of throttle.

    furthermore , ham has new gearbox for korea , so his gearbox is also pretty new. im not sure abt the other title contenders, but maybe mclaren will talk to BUT to get his support for HAM soon.

    1. Not sure what engine he used today but before the race he had two engines on 1 race each and another on 2 races.

    2. If ALO wins the next race he will have enough points in hand to be easy on his engine in the last race.

  15. Webber made his own grave, Button can’t complain at this stage of the championship.Not sure what was Vettel complaining about on lap 46? Feel bad for Roseberg & Vettel.Sutil was coming & going of the track .For sure this was Schumi’s best race of the season,they seemed to be the only team to have made some changes to their suspension (as shown on TV) after the red flag on lap 4 ,have that helped them?

    Last ting two Red Bulls retired, both Vettel & Webber will be having nightmare today if guess what? TURKEY 2010!

    1. It was nice to see that there w3ere many people coming to race with their kids with them.

  16. I don’t know why is this happening to Vettel….?
    But whats good to see is that even if it is happening, he’s not whining or sulking like some other drivers….Good to see that….He’s Learnt his lesson..

  17. Alonso did win at Nurburgring 2007, so he has won a wet race before (although it wasn’t wet the whole time).

    1. I thought that when I heard ALO in the press conference mention that he had never won in the wet….I’m glad some1s remembered, in fact Nurburgring 2007 was my favourite race ever, I’d say the very last proper wet race before Charlie and his mates got deeply into the “health and safety, if its raining we dont race” thing.

      1. Yuppers, a hotly contested wheel-to-wheel overtake of Fernando on Felipe (with a heated argument in live TV at the ceremony afterwards). And best of all, the only time I can remember Fernando lapped his then, ahem, team mate.

    2. The whole time, that’s what Alonso meant, from lap 1 to flag

  18. McLaren don’t have a hope in hell of winning either championship based on today’s performance. Their development programme has really been found wanting this year.
    They keep talking up the car’s performance, only to find out that they are always playing catch-up – as they have done for most of the season. The Mercedes, Ferrari’s, Red Bulls were much quicker in the wet today, despite McLaren’s enthusiasm of being better in a wet race, and Jenson couldn’t even overtake a Torro Rosso, Saubers, and even got overtaken by a Force India!

    Both Macca drivers, especially Lewis, have flattered the car throughout this championship, putting it places it shouldnt be. At this stage in the championship, i cannot see them making any major inroads into the car’s development to give them any major advantage into the last 2 races.

    What is clear also, is that McLaren will now have to back Lewis for the remainder of the season,(though i dont think they have the car to win), as Jenson hopes are really over. His lack of qualifying skill, racecraft, and aggression has really put paid to his championship hopes this season, and also hurt McLaren in the Constructors championship.
    He simply cannot depend on luck or strategic calls to haul himself up in the race; and all this talk of him being kinder to his tires, or being a master strategist has now been exposed to be total hogwash. Jenson really should be ashamed of his performance this race.

    1. I think the problem is that mclaren WERE better in the wet. Near the start of the season I seem to remember comments that the reason the Red Bull wasn’t as good in the wet was because the Exhaust Blown Defuser makes it very difficult to get the balance right, which is much more noticable in slippery conditions. Since Mclaren now have an EBD of their own it would seem they’re suffering the same way.

      It wouldn’t surprise me if thats partly been Buttons fault later in the season. He is famously picky about balance and setup after all.

      1. Actually it was not so much McLaren being best in the wet, but them being on top in the changeable conditions.

  19. There have been a number of comments about reliability, tyre wear etc and whether these are just bad luck or whether they have some relation to driving style. Much as we all want to see drivers giving 100pc 100pc of the time, it seems pretty clear that modern f1 cars won’t take that kind of treatment. Alonso gave a masterclass of knowing just how much he could push his car. When he is on form, and calm, he is a genius at this. Vettel is clearly a very fast driver but how much did his driving approach contribute to his car failure? Give an on-form Alonso a good (but not necessarily the best) car and he will not only be the quickest, but also the most likely to bring it home. I think he will win 2010 and probably go on to take a good few other titles too.

  20. This has probably been mentioned already.

    In my opinion, even if hamilton had not made a mistake after the safety car and stayed ahead of alonso (and therefore into 1st after Vettels engine blew). I think that Alonso would have passed him anyway due to how badly his tyres went off before the end of the race. Either way mistake or no, I think Alonso would have got this.

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