Vettel makes amends for 2010 with Korea win

2011 Korean Grand Prix review

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea, 2011

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea, 2011

Sebastian Vettel dominated the Korean Grand Prix to win his tenth race of the year.

He passed pole sitter Lewis Hamilton on the first lap, was seldom headed throughout the race – and there was no repeat of last year’s engine failure.

Hamilton came under attack from Mark Webber but held on to claim second despite constant pressure the other Red Bull driver.

Vettel breaks through to lead

The long straights connecting the first, third and fourth corners made for a hectic start to the race. Hamilton won the short dash to the turn one but Vettel was instantly shadowing the McLaren, forcing him to defend.

Hamilton left an RB7-sized gap on his left they headed to turn four and Vettel was instantly down the inside, easing Hamilton wide and taking the lead.

A daring piece of late-braking from Felipe Massa allowed him to capture third from Jenson Button at turn three. The McLaren driver was crowded out as they headed down to turn four and found himself slipping behind Webber and Fernando Alonso. Webber then nabbed third place off Massa.

After an exciting first lap the race settled down, with Vettel edging away from Hamilton, particularly in the twisty middle sector where the Red Bull was strongest.

Ferrari lose out in the pits

Ten laps in, Button picked up his pace and began to put the Ferraris under pressure. He dodged around behind Alonso once or twice but couldn’t make a pass.

On lap 14 he and Nico Rosberg, who had joined the trio, headed into the pits. Rosberg got out of his box first thanks to another rapid Mercedes pit stop, but braked too late as he returned to the track, allowing Button to pass.

However that meant Rosberg crossed the DRS detection line behind the McLaren, and was able to easily open his wing and pass the McLaren into turn three. The next time past, Button used the same advantage to pass the Mercedes for good.

This tit-for-tat squabbling should have played into Ferrari’s hands – but it didn’t. They brought Massa in on the next lap but as Webber, Michael Schumacher and Vitaly Petrov arrived at the same time the Ferrari driver had to be held in his pit box before leaving, losing precious time.

Nor did things go any better for Alonso, who emerged from the pits between Schumacher and Petrov.

Petrov takes Schumacher out

Petrov was defending his place from Alonso using his DRS as they reached turn three. But neither braked early enough for the corner. As Alonso took to the run-off Petrov had nowhere to go and collected the Mercedes of Schumacher, putting both out of the race.

That brought the safety car onto the track which gave Vettel some cause for concern as it brought Hamilton’s McLaren back within range. But despite the McLaren’s superior performance along the straights, Hamilton again couldn’t stay close enough to challenge Vettel through the rest of the lap. He was able to use DRS once to close within half a second of Vettel, but lost so much time in the final two sectors he fell out of range the next time by.

He now came under increased pressure from Webber, who was quicker than the McLaren after switching to the soft tyres for his second stint. Hamilton’s mirrors were full of the Red Bull for the rest of the race.

Massa and Alonso now set about trying to pass Rosberg, the pair finally get the job done on lap 27. Rosberg headed for the pits after that and dropped out of the top ten.

Webber puts pressure on Hamilton

Webber’s attempts to pass Hamilton intensified in the second half of the race. Time and again the Red Bull driver had his DRS wing open and forced Hamilton to defend at turn three.

McLaren radioed Hamilton to pit on lap 34. As with Button’s first pit stop, the message was broadcast on the television feed. Red Bull seemed not to take account of that as they brought Webber in on the same lap, losing a chance to set some laps in clear air and potentially pass the McLaren.

Hamilton switched to soft tyres for his final stint but braked fractionally too late for turn four, allowing Webber alongside. This began the best piece of action seen in the whole race, the pair dancing side-by-side at high speed through turn seven, eight and nine, then again around turn 11, as Hamilton firmly but fairly rebuffed Webber’s attack.

The battle continued through the final stint as Webber consistently came off the final corner much quicker than Hamilton. On lap 49 he finally saw daylight, squeezing down the inside of Hamilton at turn one. But Hamilton’s KERS-assisted exit from the corner was so strong he probably would have passed the Red Bull even without the extra advantage of DRS. As it was, he was easily back into second.

Button had now caught this two-car battle and shortly afterwards Alonso arrived on the scene as well, having leapfrogged Massa by running late at his first stop. But the status quo remained between the quartet.

Vettel claims tenth win

With no repeat of the late failure which cost him victory in the race last year, Vettel came home to win by a comfortable 12 seconds. He even had time to pump in the fastest lap of the race on his final tour.

Hamilton, Webber, Button and Alonso crossed the line within 3.6 seconds of each other, with Massa a further 9.4 seconds adrift.

Jaime Alguersuari capped a fine drive for Toro Rosso by passing Rosberg on the final tour for seventh. The Mercedes, usually one of the quickest cars in a straight line, was defenceless against the Toro Rosso which had been a good few kph quicker than everything else through the speed trap on Saturday.

Both Toro Rossos were in the points as Sebastien Buemi claimed ninth having passed Paul di Resta for the place on lap 50. The second Force India of Adrian Sutil came home 11th and Rubens Barrichello was the last driver on the lead lap.

Bruno Senna was a lapped 13th after a poor weekend for Renault. Heikki Kovalainen’s Lotus saw off both Saubers to finish 14th, team mate Jarno Trulli behind them in 17th.

Daniel Ricciardo brought his HRT home between the two Virgins and Vitantonio Liuzzi was the last runner after losing his front wing on the last lap.

Vettel celebrated his tenth victory of the year and, more significantly, Red Bull retained their constructors’ championship. There’s not much left for them to win this year, but so far there’s no sign of them stopping.

2011 Korean Grand Prix

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35 comments on Vettel makes amends for 2010 with Korea win

  1. colin grayson said on 16th October 2011, 11:10

    once again RBR were clearly quicker than the rest
    let’s hope it was because McLaren compromised their race set up too much and we get a more level playing field for the rest of the season

    too many good drives today to pick one driver

    • F1fanNL (@) said on 16th October 2011, 11:25

      It will be interesting to see who gets voted driver of the weekend.
      Button got 400 votes for last week for doing absolutely nothing other than being consistent in the fastest car. Vettel actually did have to do something to win this race and didn’t have the fastest car on Saturday so by logic should he get 500 votes now?

      • F1fanNL (@) said on 16th October 2011, 11:26

        Hmmm,…

        That wasn’t meant as a reply to you Colin.

        I agree with you.

      • matt90 (@matt90) said on 16th October 2011, 14:26

        Button had to recover from being crowded by Vettel at the start last week. He deserved DOTW, Vettel probably deserves it here equally.

        • KeeleyObsessed (@keeleyobsessed) said on 17th October 2011, 8:27

          I still struggle to see how Button was ‘crowded’.. Even by these (stupid) new rules, Vettel was acting correctly..

          My driver of the weekend goes to Hamilton, finally looked like he got the car underneath him for the first time in ages on Sat, and a good (not excellent) race on Sunday. This is the Hamilton I remember from a few years ago, I hope this isn’t a one-off..

  2. caci99 (@caci99) said on 16th October 2011, 11:35

    But Hamilton’s KERS-assisted exit from the corner was so strong he probably would have passed the Red Bull even without the extra advantage of DRS.

    Are you sure about that? I think he couldn’t had past without the help of DRS. Was Rosberg on Button also well KERS assisted?

    But the status quote remained between the quartet.

    I think you mean “status quo”

  3. I felt that we were robbed of a fight for the victory. Why Webber pitted at the same time as Lewis I have no idea why. At one point Webber was only 2 seconds behind Vettel despite being on the slower, more durable soft tyre. Having said that even if he did get past Lewis I can imagine the team calling them to hold station. Can’t help but think RBR want Vettel to get his 13 wins in a season.

    Great race from STR and Alguersari. Disastrous from Sauber – both drivers beaten by Kovalainen on merit!

  4. TommyB (@tommyb89) said on 16th October 2011, 11:57

    I know I’m biased but Alguersuari really stood out again for me, not for the first time either.

    At first I thought he was getting more luck than Buemi but he really is racing well at the moment. Claiming 7th and ‘best of the rest’ is a great achievement.

  5. W-K (@w-k) said on 16th October 2011, 13:58

    Is it just my befudled thinking, but was the DRS zone in the wrong place.
    First overtake leading to corner 3 happened without DRS, Vettel overtook Hamilton on 1st lap before DRS enabled.

    And several times we had genuine overtaking into 1st corner only for it to be cancelled out by overtaken car being less than 1 sec behind 30 meters later and therefore using DRS to take the place back.

    • Mr draw said on 17th October 2011, 16:46

      Yeah, the DRS-zone shoud have been at the start/finish straight. The DRS-zone used was only counterproductive.

  6. Fixy (@fixy) said on 16th October 2011, 14:31

    It was the best way for Red Bull and Vettel to take revenge of last year, considering the win was almost certain.

  7. Eggry (@eggry) said on 16th October 2011, 14:36

    Happier day after last year’s disaster.

  8. carlos said on 16th October 2011, 14:37

    No team orders from Ferrari and the Massa train derail Alonso’s podium finish. Alonso could have taken a good fight to Webber much earlier, or even to Hamilton.

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 16th October 2011, 17:03

      I’m not so convinced. There were plenty of times when Alonso was making life difficult for himself on his first stint. I don’t know if it was just his tyres but he was missing plenty of apexes and as a result, a lot of time.

      • barney said on 16th October 2011, 17:44

        Alonso said after the race that he could not have gone any faster than Massa in the first stint and was only faster once he got the softs so I dont think it made much difference for him.
        Also, its nice to see Massa getting his mojo back even if he still has much to improve. I really wish him all the best!

  9. Mustalainen (@mustalainen) said on 16th October 2011, 17:20

    Great effort from Heikki finishing in front of the two Saubers. I hope Lotus will have an excellent start of the season next year!

    • An excellent result for Kovalainen. On merit, in front of the Saubers.

      He is excelling himself this year and making a new reputation. Perhaps he is the new generation Fisichella – good for the underdog but falls back in a better car!

  10. Keamo said on 16th October 2011, 18:20

    fantastic defending from Lewis today. Classic Lewis. . Bernie better cut Lewis another cheque for making F1 exciting.

  11. A great drive by Jaime Alguersuari. Driver of the day for me. No doubt about it.

    • He was outstanding today. I can’t think of any other stand out’s for DotW. Vettel for his victory. Hamilton for getting back into the swing. Webber for his hunger. Massa stepped up and had a better race.

      But – as you say, Alguersuari, for me, is the only one who was truly outstanding.

  12. sharmin. (@spartle) said on 16th October 2011, 18:50

    Anyone know what the longest number of consecutive races a driver has been in without retiring?

  13. AdrianMorse (@adrianmorse) said on 16th October 2011, 20:39

    I was sorry for Mark that he got stuck behind Lewis, denying him the chance to fight Vettel. And it’s not inconceivable Webber could have overtaken Vettel. Hamilton was very fast in the first sector, but I think Vettel was not.

    I’m very happy for Lewis though, and I think he owes a thank you to Mark, because Webber effectively protected Hamilton from the attacks of other faster drivers, who could have had more luck attacking him.

    The McLaren was really shocking in the final corner, though; you could really see Webber make up 10 meters in that final kink alone.

  14. A very enjoyable race! I watched up until the Safety Car restart and then caught the rest later! Really enjoyable race with some good tustles!

    I can’t help wondering whether Eddie Jordan has left/been sacked. He looked decidedly unhappy on the Japanese edition of the forum and not his normal (irritating) self-content person! I can’t help but wonder if him missing Korea was over some sort of disagreement.

  15. wasiF1 (@wasif1) said on 17th October 2011, 2:41

    The wheel action between WEB & HAM was great to watch also the fight between the two Ferrari drivers. Tough luck for Schumacher looking good for another strong result today but I have to say Alonso fought hard but if not mistaken near the finish of the race did I hear him saying “I give it up” I can’t believe he said that.Also good performance from STR especially from Jaime Alguersuari this result should help him keep his seat in the team for 2012.

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