Alonso has third title in sight after Korean GP triumph

2010 Korean Grand Prix review

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

  1. Stefanauss said on 24th October 2010, 12:29

    The fact is, Alonso is leading although he hasn’t the best car. He has chased from far away. That’s remarkable anyway, even if it’s mind-blowing thinking RBR has still not won the WCs and is up to lose them.

    Should he win, it’ll be no less valuable than 2000 Schumacher’s against the McLarens.

  2. I think red bull and vettel are to blame..i suspect they set his engine high and urged him to push well past the 42nd lap because they wrongly assumed the race would be stoppped using the 75% rule by the race director therefore handing red bull the victory.you could hear the rsdio traffic vrom Vettel complaining about visibility very soon after the 43rd lap on the radio while Hamiton was saying visibility was perfect….very soon after wards Vettel blew his engine… and Honer was said to have left the pit wall in disgust.

    • Steve said on 24th October 2010, 12:39

      Mclaren asked lewis about visibility in reponse to Vettel’s remark. Politics through and through.

      I don’t believe Vettel’s engines have blown simply due to bad luck. I think he turns up his engine each time he needs to respond to the catching driver. Perhaps he pushed his engine too hard in order to compensate for the lack of race pace? He could also be spinning the wheels too much. A loss of traction would result in the engine hitting the limiter, causing the engine to wear quicker.

      • It could also just be bad luck? See most other drivers have had an engine failure this season, why don’t people mock them for driving their engine too hard? A F1 is made to run at full power, they turn it down because they load the cars with too little fuel. At that stage in the race Vettel was preserving his tires, so too much wheel spin is not very likely.

    • Interesting note. It could be quite the conspiracy if proven. Obviously the person who would benefit the most by completing 75% race distance would be Vettel, giving him an 11 point lead over Webber (and very likely #1 status in the team). Otherwise it would be Vettel on 218.5!

      If that is what happened, I’m glad it blew up in their face. Pun intended.

    • Rahim.RG said on 24th October 2010, 13:17

      The Visibility complain was because he had a Medium Visor(in his words)…which was a bit of darker shade….and he said after then…that maybe it was just him…as other could finish with ease….

      • Skett said on 24th October 2010, 14:13

        I saw that when they were getting ready on the grid and I couldn’t believe it. I’ve done a bit of karting and I once made the mistake of using a tinted visor in the wet. You can see almost nothing, its far worse than using a tinted visor in the dark. I’m sure he’s using better visors than I have, but still

      • chemakal said on 25th October 2010, 11:12

        well, that could be the most silly excuse in F1 history: lost the WDC in 2.010 because after meeting with the team for hours and practicing the whole weekeend, we finally decided to go with the medium visor altough everyone knows that it’s no good in rain conditions…

    • Anagh said on 24th October 2010, 17:37

      yeah it did look like that. His engine blew the same way Alonso’s did in China i think when he tried to pass Button. Alonso was on the limiter there.

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 24th October 2010, 19:11

      Interesting theory, but Red Bull would have been extremely stupid to bank on the race being stopped prematurely.

  3. Funkyf1 said on 24th October 2010, 12:36

    @Nadya, I believe that’s Redbull hanging it on Bernie for his 80th birthday and him responding to the fact that their flexi wing won’t help him at all.
    @Franton I think we all agree that Legard needs to go, but the weather, therefore the broadcasting times cannot be controlled. The non european countries ( like us in Australia ) deal with that all the time. The rest of the weekend the weather was fine.
    @Ponzonha I totally agree with your point, the broadcasters should be focusing on the track action. Rosberg is fine, they showed him in the paddock later in the race.

  4. Stefanauss said on 24th October 2010, 12:43

    Guys, obviously you know what airs in UK and the level of F1 coverage more than I do, but it’s really strange to hear you complaining about BBC. I’m italian and this time i got to watch the race with the online feed and it was the first time in a while i didn’t wish to turn sound off completely so bad.
    Seriously, you’re lucky. Italian coverage is plain ridiculous. Annoying, missing and messing things up, let alone the Ferrari Hooliganism i let you imagin about…

    • matt88 said on 24th October 2010, 12:52

      well, at least we have Jean Alesi for the after-race comments… :)

    • Fixy (@fixy) said on 24th October 2010, 13:53

      When Vettel’s car broke and Alonso overtook him everyone would have imagined a cry of joy from the TV, but there was a journalist interviewing Petrov (not considering her appaling English and silly questions) after his crash. Nobody interrupted him and I worked out by myself what happened without believing it.

      • matt88 said on 24th October 2010, 16:38

        hehe, i was already jumping on the sofa when they cried “VETTEL! VETTEL IS OUT!”.

        However, the worst F1 coverage should be the French one. Some summers ago i was on holiday there and they put 4-minutes breaks during the race. Unbelievable, considering that France is one of the homelands of F1.

    • RaulZ said on 24th October 2010, 20:30

      Spanish one seems to be like Italian. Now is better because they have people that understand like Delarosa or Marc Gene, but it has been pathetic sometimes.

      But I see even in BBC the thing is similar.

  5. daykind said on 24th October 2010, 12:43

    Usually I wouldn’t criticise Legard but today he was very poor.

    During the safety car periods, he was coming out with pointless, pointless information rather than explaining in full detail what this meant for the race. He twice spoke over team radio transmissions, constantly repeated strong points already raised by Brundle, and rather than talking about a great race, explaining things about Korea’s economy and how Yeongam would soon have a city.

    I love commentators in sport, and usually I don’t mind Jonothan Legard, but today was one of the worst performances from a sports commentator I have ever seen.

    Bitterly Disappointing!

    • sam crawford said on 24th October 2010, 13:03

      They both completely missed the fact Alonso had passed Hammy until 2 replays later, and he doesn’t half talk some bull. Still, at east he doesn’t go crazy about Hamilton passing Massa, then goes crazy about Hamilton passing Massa AGAIN, at the same corner, in the exact same way (It was just a replay, everyone but him realised that!) Get Chandhok full time if he’s not racing :D

    • FelipeF1 said on 24th October 2010, 13:04

      Everyone can have a bad day at the office, right?

      • Franton said on 24th October 2010, 14:37

        Not when it’s every time Legard opens his trap …

        • Anagh said on 24th October 2010, 17:41

          You know watz worse? Steve slater calling Nico Rosberg the Driver for Williams n sumone Tweets him to correct that! Now tell me u got something worse than that! :P

  6. 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)

  7. goofy said on 24th October 2010, 13:19

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

  8. 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.

  9. 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.

    • Sandman said on 24th October 2010, 13:49

      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.

      • Skett said on 24th October 2010, 14:18

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

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 24th October 2010, 14:47

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

        • vayha said on 24th October 2010, 15:21

          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.

        • Keamo said on 24th October 2010, 16:28

          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.

          • Sandman said on 25th October 2010, 7:15

            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.

  10. Renzo said on 24th October 2010, 13:37

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

  11. damonsmedley (@damonsmedley) said on 24th October 2010, 13:44

    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*

    • Marcello said on 24th October 2010, 13:51

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

    • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 24th October 2010, 15:22

      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.

  12. Funkyf1 said on 24th October 2010, 13:45

    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

    • Marcello said on 24th October 2010, 13:54

      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.

  13. 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!!!

    • Santi said on 24th October 2010, 15:50

      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…

  14. Ledzep4pm said on 24th October 2010, 13:53

    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

  15. Fixy (@fixy) said on 24th October 2010, 14:01

    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.

    • Dipak T said on 24th October 2010, 17:15

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

    • Anagh said on 24th October 2010, 17:43

      Poor guy being overshadowed by the crashing bulls! :P

    • Red Andy (@red-andy) said on 24th October 2010, 19:14

      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.

      • Skett said on 24th October 2010, 19:51

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

      • Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th October 2010, 8:56

        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.

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