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. Mr draw said on 24th October 2010, 14:21

    You forgot to mention Hidefeld’s 9th place!

  2. Rumen said on 24th October 2010, 14:30

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

    • Franton said on 24th October 2010, 14:39

      According to F1Wolf, then yes he will.

      • baracca said on 24th October 2010, 15:15

        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.

        • chemakal said on 24th October 2010, 18:53

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

      • Icthyes (@icthyes) said on 24th October 2010, 15:23

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

  3. schooner said on 24th October 2010, 14:42

    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.

  4. 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.

  5. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 24th October 2010, 14:52

    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!

  6. Rahim.RG said on 24th October 2010, 15:12

    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..

  7. ed24f1 (@ed24f1) said on 24th October 2010, 15:15

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

    • Marcello said on 24th October 2010, 15:19

      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.

      • baracca said on 24th October 2010, 16:35

        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.

    • chemakal said on 24th October 2010, 18:56

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

  8. Kbdavies said on 24th October 2010, 15:24

    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.

    • Skett said on 24th October 2010, 20:08

      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.

  9. 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.

  10. Mach1 said on 24th October 2010, 16:10

    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.

  11. Anagh said on 24th October 2010, 17:17

    The luckiest person on track today should be Lewis Hamilton. Not only did he score second after a big mess of 3 DNFs n a gearbox issue, but he also didnt crash, thanks to Nico Rosberg. If Nico hadnt overtaken Lewis when the race started, the other car that would’ve collided with Webber’s would’ve been Lewis’s!

    • DaveW said on 24th October 2010, 17:42

      That would have been a fascinating thread of fate, if Webber would have collected Hamilton his mudbath, after the whole Singapore situation. When I saw a flash of silver flying into Webber, that’s what I had assumed happened. The situation the did result, Ron Dennis would have called “rough justice.” I see some more slings and arrows coming at the Senna Esses in a couple weeks. I wish him no ill but Alonso has been neglected by misfortune for a rather extended period now.

  12. I fell sorry for the Red Bull guys, but it is what it is. However to see Alonso climbing towards a possible title is just painful. While the Red Bull guys gave us show, Ferrari subdued the F1 show to shameful team orders. Aren’t we saturated by mediocre characters who won the F1 championship?

  13. Anyone here thinks Alonso would just take the penalty and use a fresh engine in Brazil? I honestly think he would as why risk a DNF and having to incur the penalty at Yas Marina.

    • chemakal said on 24th October 2010, 19:01

      A DNF is Brazil doen’t mean a penalty in Abu D, he still got other used engines. I would rather bet he would change engine after Brazil if he gets some decent points.

    • BasCB (@bascb) said on 28th October 2010, 20:25

      He now used a engine for 4 races and has is engine nr. 6 or 7 (not sure wich one) for the last 2 races, so that should not really be a problem.

  14. Wynan said on 24th October 2010, 17:53

    It was a great race. Button really desappointed me, he have to support lewis know. Alonso proves he is a talented driver who never give up and make few mistakes. I am a Lewis’ fan but i think Alonso is stronger under pressure. Lewis often makes silly mistakes like braking tooooo late and getting out of track… I’m sure 2011 he will be more mature.

    • chemakal said on 24th October 2010, 19:07

      well all that about Hams maturity was said at the beginning of the season but he proves to be no good under pressure when it comes to the peaks of the season, sprecially if he Alonso is behind. That late brakings, and in Korea that entrance to box in Q3 (very doubt the correct moment to practice entrance to boxes is Q3) and today losing position so easy

  15. Alonso’s comments post qualifying yesterday stand vindicated. He certainly finished the race that too without any hiccups, it was very important to keep the concentration strong and save the tires in case he needed them at the end. Truly masterful as Keith has put it in his comments
    What I loved even more was his calm demeanor in the post race conference when he was asked what this race win meant to his chances and he said it’s still the same, we need to make sure we finish all the remaining races on the podium :)

    • Hyoko said on 24th October 2010, 18:43

      That’s almost mathematically true.

      With two 3rds Alonso gets 261 points. Even if Hamilton gets both wins he remains a point behind. Webber still could get the WDC, but he would need a win and a 2nd (or of course both wins) for the WDC.

      If Alonso gets a 2nd and a 3rd then Webber needs both wins. With two 2nds still Webber gets the WDC with both wins. With a win and a podium Alonso clinches it for sure.

      So two podiums for Alonso is maybe not enough but only if Webber gets ahead of him in both races AND wins at least one of them.

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