Vettel takes championship lead with hat-trick of wins

2012 Korean Grand Prix review

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea, 2012Sebastian Vettel took over the lead of the drivers’ championship with an emphatic win in the Korean Grand Prix.

Despite worries about tyre wear in the closing stages, Vettel led a one-two for Red Bull ahead of Fernando Alonso.

But it was a disastrous race for McLaren as Lewis Hamilton’s slim championship hopes faded even further and Jenson Button retired on the first lap.

Vettel takes control

Vettel lined up second on the grid but quickly took the lead at the start – just as he did last year. He beat pole sitter Webber to the first corner, then rebuffed his attack on the run to turn three.

Webber in turn had to hold off Alonso as they sped to turn four, the Ferrari driver having braked daringly late for turn three to pass Lewis Hamilton.

But the other McLaren got no further than the first lap. Jenson Button was hit by the out-of-control Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi at turn three. The furious Button called his rival an “idiot” on his radio as he pulled to a stop with broken front-right suspension.

Nico Rosberg was also involved in the accident – his second first-lap misfortune in as many races – and his Mercedes came to a stop at the beginning of lap two. He managed to find somewhere to park it on the barrier-lined straight leading from turn two.

Yellow flag delay

Nico Rosberg, Mercedes, Korea International Circuit, 2012Marshals continued to wave yellow flags at the scene of Rosberg’s retirement, in the DRS zone, until lap nine. This caused problems for drivers trying to pass their rivals.

The Toro Rosso pair were stuck behind Pastor Maldonado, with Daniel Ricciardo complaining Jean-Eric Vergne was slowing him down. Vergne was given the ‘your team mate is faster than you’ message, but replied that he was being held up because he couldn’t pass the Williams.

Ricciardo held position behind Vergne and once the yellow flags were withdrawn the pair demoted Maldonado to 15th and later took Bruno Senna as well.

At the front Vettel was drawing away from Webber who in turn was leaving Alonso and Hamilton behind. Hamilton was the first to pit on lap 14, returning to the track a couple of seconds behind Sergio Perez, who had started on softs and was running a longer first stint.

Webber, Massa and Raikkonen reacted to Hamilton’s pit stop on the following lap, leaving Alonso to complete another tour as Hamilton gained on him. When Alonso came on on the next lap he returned to the track just in front of Perez and Hamilton.

He kept the Sauber behind at turn three while Hamilton took a speculative look and nearly paid for it with his front wing. Exiting the next corner Hamilton used his better traction on fresh tyres to out-accelerate Perez and close to within a second of Alonso.

Hamilton’s disastrous day

Lewis Hamilton, McLaren, Korea International Circuit, 2012This was the high water mark of Hamilton’s challenge during the race. Soon after he began complaining about his car’s handling. “We understand the problem,” said his engineer. “We think it’s a mechanical balance change.”

Hamilton slipped back towards Massa, who passed him with ease in the DRS zone. Soon Raikkonen was on the tail of the McLaren, though he found it tougher to pass. He got by in the DRS zone on lap 24 but Hamilton responded at turn four and claimed the place back.

Raikkonen’s attempts at passing were repeatedly frustrated by Hamilton, to the point that the pair fell over seven seconds behind Massa. But by lap 27 Hamilton reported his tyres “shredding” and had to make an early second pit stop.

McLaren held on to the hope that a third stop might not be necessary but it was in vain. Adding insult to injury, Hamilton collected a loose piece of Astroturf in his final stint which ruined his handling even further.

Having been sizing up the Toro Rossos for a pass, Hamilton ended the race fending off an attack from Perez.

“You’re a bit too close to Fernando”

Vettel’s first stop passed without incident and he continued in the lead. He stayed out longer than his pursuers at his second stop as well but had a scare at turn three on his in-lap, locking up his tyres very hard.

There were worried faces on the Red Bull pit wall after they examined the state of Vettel’s tyres from the second stint. “After the last stop we could see there was not a lot of tread left in the tyre,” admitted Christian Horner afterwards. “Both of them were very marginal at the end.”

Vettel received repeated urgent messages from race engineer Guillaume Rocquelin during the final stint. “From now on you could be down to the cord on the right front,” said Rocquelin late in the third stint.

“Be very careful under braking. Remember what happened,” he added, reminding Vettel that when the tyres went it would be without warning.

Behind him Webber had to be increasingly wary of Alonso, who was coming on strong after treating his tyres with care at the beginning of the third stint. At that point Massa was closing on him rapidly, and Ferrari were quick to remind him that occupying a place on the track in front of his team mate is not the way to ensure a contract renewal for 2013.

“You’re a bit too close to Fernando,” warned Rob Smedley. “I think you could back off at least another second.” Massa obliged, and was later informed when Alonso had picked up his pace.

Vettel takes victory

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Korea International Circuit, 2012Vettel’s lap times dipped towards the end of the race as he heeded the team’s advice. Webber claimed the fastest lap on the penultimate tour as Red Bull put a lock on the first one-two for a team this season.

Third place for Alonso was not enough to stop Vettel from taking the championship lead, which the Ferrari driver has held since June. Massa was a dutiful fourth, Raikkonen over 16 seconds behind in fifth.

Nico Hulkenberg briefly lost position to Romain Grosjean following the last pit stops. But when the pair caught the slowing Hamilton the Force India driver positioned his car perfectly at turn four to pass the pair of them.

Vergne and Ricciardo secured a double points finish for Toro Rosso, while the hobbled Hamilton clung on to the final points position. But he is now 62 points adrift of Vettel, and his championship hopes have gone from being a long shot to to highly unrealistic.

Paul di Resta, Michael Schumacher and the Williams pair also finished on the lead lap, while Vitaly Petrov led home Heikki Kovalainen, the Marussia duo and Narain Karthikeyan.

Until the Japan/Korea double-header no driver had won consecutive races this year. Now Vettel has won three in a row, and has the points lead in the championship to boot. A third world championship beckons for Red Bull’s rising superstar.

2012 Korean Grand Prix

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163 comments on Vettel takes championship lead with hat-trick of wins

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  1. Dom (@3dom) said on 14th October 2012, 10:22

    Game over

    • JCost (@jcost) said on 14th October 2012, 11:43

      That freaking alternator is workink just fine. Seems that Fernando will need to do this with Massa, McLaren is not helping :(

    • +1 the championship’s Vettel :( All bets are off.

      BTW I won money on him winning today but lost money overall on him this weekend as I was sure he’d win pole yesterday.

      Damn I hate red bull still. Also what’s with Mclaren being so bloody useless?! If Hamilton hadn’t signed for mercedes would he still be having these issues?

      I want to see Hamiltn and Alonso at redbull – the best drivers in the best car, it’d be Senna vs Prost in 88 again. #Dominance

      • F1fanNL (@) said on 14th October 2012, 15:36

        So the best driver is only a tenth a lap quicker than Felipe Massa?

        • brny666 said on 14th October 2012, 16:14

          Lol. No that must be because Ferrari are sabotaging Alonso’s car to make Massa look good as they hate Fernando. (btw that was sarcasm)

        • Douglas (@mwahahaha) said on 14th October 2012, 17:39

          And what about the rest of the season? How did they compare for all of those races?

          • @mwahahaha
            No no no ..the rest of the season didn’t count. Only this race is important and to be exactly the last stint of tyres..only that counts. The fact that Alonso was 0.4 sec faster in quali is because Massa is affected by the 2009 accident in the hungarian gp. But in the last stint of tyres in race he was ok was Massa before the accident.
            Now if in India the standards of normality are back with Massa 0.5-0.6 sec slower in quali and 0.8-1 sec slower in race are back then will be back the Massa after the accident.

  2. Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 14th October 2012, 10:26

    Come on Fernando! I still have faith.

  3. Marshals continued to wave chequered flags at the scene of Rosberg’s retirement

    Yellow flags, maybe, Keith? :)

  4. Eggry (@eggry) said on 14th October 2012, 10:36

    Whoah, is there anyone or anything can stop Vettel? I hope there it is…

    • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 14th October 2012, 10:38

      By the direction his career is going finger boy might just beat Schumacher’s records.

      Nonetheless, it would be quite “funny” to see Vettel as a 3 time champ yet Hamilton only as a 1 time champion especially considering how things looked like after 2008.

      • leotef (@leotef) said on 14th October 2012, 11:42

        Better put Adrian’s 3rd championship title.

        • F1fanNL (@) said on 14th October 2012, 15:36

          Absolutely right seeing as Webber as in a close 2nd spot….

          Oh wait.

        • @leotef – so how exactly is Hamilton not leading this championship? And for that matter why is Webber not right up there with Vettel?
          Answer, because Vettel is a very good driver. Simple as that. Newey may help a touch but he hasn’t really done Vettel many favours up until now.

          • leotef (@leotef) said on 15th October 2012, 3:09

            @vettel1,

            so how exactly is Hamilton not leading this championship? And for that matter why is Webber not right up there with Vettel?

            Well, I don’t think the reasons are needed to be reiterated here. As for the performance of Webber esp compared with Vettel, things are not always so much clear cut and simple. But I generally had the feeling of Red Bull using him as a test bed.
            I don’t deny Vettel is a very good driver, actually very fast with the likes of Hamilton, Alonso. But without Adrian Newey and full wholesome support from the team, he won’t be the youngest 3rd time WDC all together with those killing stats which he seems so keen. Well, in the end, people will only remember stats.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 15th October 2012, 3:44

            @leotef – It’s fair that you admit to knowing Vettel is fast, alongside the best on the grid. But it’s unnecessary to put a comment like “Better put Adrian’s 3rd championship title”, without clearly joking.

            Without a good team, a driver won’t become champion. But there is no reason for people to only remember this when talking about Vettel.

      • JB (@) said on 14th October 2012, 17:39

        By the direction his career is going finger boy might just beat Schumacher’s records.

        @kingshark
        It seems that that is what is going to happen and it´s a real shame…

        I just find it funny that Redbull overcame their long-stint problem… and also, Massa all of a sudden has the same pace as Vettel….

        I said it at the begining of the season but they caled me crazy…. The pirellis seem to somehow last longer and make some faster when it´s needed…

        My final coment until the end of the season…. Ferrari ends up as runner up in the constructors and Alonso as sub champion…. which is a real shame! F1 needs to have more than one tyre provider… bring back Bridgestone, Michelin or even Goodyear…. only then will the tyre conspiracy be put to rest..

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th October 2012, 19:43

          @catracho504

          tyre conspiracy

          I’ve no idea what you’re complaining about there. All the teams get the same tyres.

          bring back Bridgestone, Michelin or even Goodyear

          No thanks. I’ve watched enough ‘tyre war’ seasons ruined because one driver had virtually his own bespoke compounds. It was a wretchedly dull and miserably one-sided ‘competition’.

          I can think of no good reason F1 should do that and give itself the twin problems of tyre testing it can’t afford and escalating corner speeds it would have to find new ways of controlling. It would be quicker for everyone to put their money in a huge pile and set fire to it.

          • JB (@) said on 14th October 2012, 20:24

            I’ve no idea what you’re complaining about there. All the teams get the same tyres.

            @keithcollantine

            That is what they try and make everyone believe sir. This is the tyre conspiracy… They say everyone gets the same tyres but in reality… they are not… I already got caled crazy but it´s not impossible either…. The Ferrari in Korea wasthe exact same car as in Japan and all of a sudden Felipe is just a tenth slower than Fernando… I´m not buying it… And all of a sudden RBR sorted out their lng stint problem? Rrrright… By having 1 tyre provider, results can be manipulated… and please don´t tell me I´m crazy because it happens in Karting…. tyres get switched…

            To blindly believe everything they say is just being naive… but that´s just my opinion…

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th October 2012, 22:11

            @catracho504

            please don´t tell me I´m crazy

            If you’re saying these teams which spend nine-figure sums on going racing are having their chances of winning destroyed by random tyres and they aren’t complaining about it then I’m going to find it very hard not to.

          • JB (@) said on 15th October 2012, 1:54

            If you’re saying these teams which spend nine-figure sums on going racing are having their chances of winning destroyed by random tyres and they aren’t complaining about it

            @keithcollantine
            That is exactly what I´m saying…. and I knew you would still call me that but someone did complain and called the fans called him “incapable” for saying something about it… remember Michael talking about the tyres? He knows!! As all of the rest know too but look what happened to Mercedes… back of mid field after Rosberg´s win…

            I have so many arguements to back it up but it would sound too much like a rant. I just feel utterly disgusted about what´s going on… Anyways…. Congratulations to Adrian Newey for winning his 3rd title in a row… I hope all the RBR fans are happy about it….

          • Robbie (@robbie) said on 15th October 2012, 6:53

            @catracho504… I haven’t heard or seen anything to substantiate your theory, and can’t figure out how the teams wouldn’t notice glaring differences (with all the data they compile) in some tires, even if they weren’t on their own particular cars.

            I guess your concern with them allegedly trumping up Red Bull’s tires would be that SV could potentially break MS’s records with such conspiracy, like that wasn’t a trumped up era in itself. So I don’t deny that F1 is capable of manipulation, but why would they pour it on for FM?

            If the only difference between FM in Japan and in Korea is conspiracy (never mind that it’s a totally different green track surface, and FM is no slouch, and given time his side of the garage has learned and evolved, and this season has shown such inconsistancies as multi-winners at the start of the season), why FM? After we all witnessed MS/Ferrari, why wouldn’t they be seeing to it that FA (also sitting with a potential 3rd WDC in the offing) suddenly is pouring on the pace. It can’t be that you think FM could take points off FA resulting in Pirelli/FIA/F1 favouring SV for the WDC? If it’s all about SV, why give any Ferrari driver choice tires?

            At least with one tire maker, Pirelli can’t just go ahead and set up shop at one team’s private test track without that standing out like a sore thumb, like in the past when one of two makers did just that under the guise that of course they were going to support the team that was the most successful in a given year, when if fact such mega support played a vital role in the numbers compilation from the getgo, to others’ exclusion.

            Also, whose to say that even if we had two or more tire makers, FIA/F1 couldn’t just feed one maker a certain set of parameters to go by, and the other maker another set such that their recipes for rubber differ? It’s not like the makers will be sharing their recipes. How’s that for conspiracy?

            Also…to state that because karting allegedly conspires with tires must mean that F1 does it too…well…let’s just say that, like Keith, I too am finding it… ‘very hard not to’…

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th October 2012, 8:33

            remember Michael talking about the tyres?

            Yes. He said that he didn’t like having tyres that weren’t optimised for pure performance (he said “it’s like driving on raw eggs”).

            He did not say that the tyres were part of some insidious conspiracy to ‘manipulate results’, as you claim.

    • Karthikeyan (@ridiculous) said on 14th October 2012, 10:39

      The Mayan Calendar. But you have to wait till December 31st :)

    • An updated ferrari in Alonso’s hand :)

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 14th October 2012, 10:47

        It should be faster than Red Bull at any mean.

        • not faster than red bull but equality to red bull and fernando will do the rest… Alonso will win the championship,this is just a way to make the championship more exciting.

          • F1fanNL (@) said on 14th October 2012, 15:39

            And how do we know the Red Bull and Ferrari aren’t equal?

            Because you say so? Please…

          • “And how do we know the Red Bull and Ferrari aren’t equal?”

            I propose to the webmaster of this site to make a poll.

            Are Ferrari and Red Bull in equal pace??
            This site has a reputation as one with the most knowledge fans about forumla 1…so we see how the result will be.

            “Because you say so? Please…”

            No because i see it!

            By my personal opinion looking from the start of the season Ferrari has been the 3rd car in average till now. Alonso’s results are more than the car was able to deliver. Massa’s results (in the whole season) are less that the car was able to deliver. The solution is in the middle. Ferrari don’t deserve to be higher than Mclaren (by a ferrari fan). Lotus in the first part of the season may be had the fastest car.
            By the way u answer to me i understand that u dont like Ferrari’s drivers.
            So u suppose that RB and SF are in equal pace but Vettel and Webber are better than Alonso and Massa.
            In my personal view a discussion can be made for Massa vs vettel & Webber.
            Alonso is way better than both Vettel and Webber. The only that i put in the same level with Alonso is Hamilton.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 14th October 2012, 22:08

            @fanser – Yet the driver who is on equal level with Alonso, according to you, is 60 points off him, in a car that many regard to be as good, if not better than Ferrari.

            For goodness sake, this cliche that “only Hamilton is as good as Alonso” may have been true around 2010, but it is ridiculously outdated, LMAO.

          • Look it’s a long shot but i will explain it in a few cases.

            1.The fact that most of the Ferrari/Alonso fans have MORE respect for Hamilton than for Vettel will tell you something. It’s not just me , plenty of my friends have the same opinion, and vice versa is also true for the Mclaren/hamilton fans regarding Alonso vs vettel.
            2. Winning at Red Bull now is good, but it doesn’t tell you a lot it’s the same with 2001-2004 period. Im a ferrari fan and i liked Schumi but winning those years doesn’t mean a lot (the 2000 was different )
            3. The way Hamilton win in 2008 without the best car impressed me. I wanted Ferrari to win i was disappointed, i thought Glock was corrupted, i was angry…But then i realise that 2007 was just not a case, this guy have skills and big skills i remember Monaco and silverstone in 2008. Still i think Massa deserved as he had a superior car but what hamilton did gain my respect.
            4. I’m not saying that Vettel isn’t good. I’m saying that he didn’t show till now in formula 1 the same “level” as Ham and Alo. He hasn’t been in their position drive the 2nd or 3rd best car and asked to win the championship. If u drive for Ferrari and Mclaren u will be asked to win the championship even if u dont have the fastets car. His move to Ferrari( if he will do it) will tell us. Maybe he is better than Ham or even than Alonso…maybe but we have just to wait and see. Maybe in 2014 we will know more.
            5. This is also the opinion of Fernando Alonso, watch this video in the end of 2011 championship (not in 2010!!): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CEzqCcF2mps
            6.I respect your opinion so you have to respect mine not treated as ridiculous. We all have opinions, like or not like drivers, but i didn’t say to anybody if he is ridiculous or not.
            7.if i was Montezemolo or if i decide which driver Ferrari should take between Ham and Vet i will choose Ham.
            Sorry as you’re a Vettel fan, i respect vettel and i will route for him if he comes to ferrari but in the moment i prefer Alonso and Hamilton(also to come to ferrari).
            The last update and interview of hamilton in the end of the race when he declare he likes to see Alonso champion instead of Vettel and gives his reasons (the same reasons that i give to you why i like hamilton instead of vettel…:)..) : http://motorsport.nextgen-auto.com/Hamilton-admits-Ferrari-talks,50580.html …..he also admit that have talk with ferrari.

            English is not my native language but i hope i explained my opinion as good as possible.

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 15th October 2012, 9:15

            @fanser – This year, RBR haven’t been dominant like in 2011, with Mclaren, Ferrari and Lotus being so competitive, but Vettel still has the most wins. Furthermore, he didn’t have the best car across 2009 either, but challenged for the title.

            Have Hamilton or Alonso really won the title in an inferior car? That 2008 Mclaren, which for LH didn’t break down once, was also hardly any slower than Kimi/Felipe’s car (Heikki just underperformed hugely). The 2005/06 Renaults were usually fastest and/or the most reliable. Their cars may not have been dominant, but were still good enough to fight for the title, much like the RB8. Even in 2010 Ferrari/Mclaren clawed back a lot of points because of better reliability.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 14th October 2012, 10:41

      A wet weekend

      • Eggry (@eggry) said on 14th October 2012, 10:45

        Well that would help. Rainnnn!

        • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 14th October 2012, 10:54

          Well, rain is often considered as a car equalizer. No wonder Fernando won in Malaysia and took pole in both Britain and Germany. ;)

          • raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 14th October 2012, 15:16

            Rain isn’t the equaliser it once was, truth be told. Since 07 basically every wet race of each season has been won by one car.

          • @Kingshark not exactly equaliser of cars. Rain eliminate the aerodynamics effects of the car. So RB in rain had no advantages. In terms of aerodynamic all the cars are in the same level. In rain comes in play the mechanical parts and Ferrari is the best with Mclaren. If we eliminate the aerodynamic importance today in formula 1, Ferrari will be by far the best car

      • A Vettel/Alonso battle in the rain. I wouldn’t mind that! Ferrari do seem to have the better “wet car” judging by the earlier wet races, but the problem is it doesn’t rain in Austin and Abu Dhabi, in India I’m pretty sure monsoon season has ended so the only possible wet race would be in Brazil.
        A wet title decider may be on the cards!

        • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 14th October 2012, 11:09

          Agree with everything you said but there’s no “better wet car” Fernando snatched the pole in Silverstone by 0.047s & the 2 Red Bull’s were behind him & in Germany the strategy in Q3 with fresher tyre played a role

          • Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 14th October 2012, 11:16

            Ferrari themselves have said numerous times (via Twitter, in the press, you name it) that they have the very best car in wet conditions.

  5. Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 14th October 2012, 10:39

    Fifth race in a row where Massa has been more impressive than him. It’s safe to say that he’s no longer the best driver on the grid.

    • Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 14th October 2012, 10:48

      And by him I mean Alonso, of course.

    • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 14th October 2012, 10:53

      How so?

      Belgium – Alonso out qualified Massa, but was punted out in the first corner.
      Italy - Massa only out qualified Fernando because of an anti-roll bar failure. Fred still finished 10 seconds ahead in the race.
      Singapore - Sure, Massa had an impressive comeback, but you know you qualified poorly when you’re crashed into by a Caterham. Alonso finished 3rd.
      Japan - Alonso out qualifies Massa but is involved in a first lap racing incident.
      Korea - Alonso out qualifies and out races Massa. I don’t care how impressive Felipe was in the race. he was beaten fair and square.

      “For sure” Massa has been rising in form recently, but last time I checked Alonso is still 125 points ahead in the championship.

      • sumedh said on 14th October 2012, 10:57

        Don’t be such a miser. Give Japan and Korea to Massa atleast.

        • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 14th October 2012, 11:05

          OK. But I really don’t see his point on Massa somehow being better than Alonso since the summer break. And even if that was the case, Felipe should’ve improved a long time before that.

      • “For sure” Massa has been rising in form recently, but last time I checked Alonso is still 125 points ahead in the championship.

        Massa has been more impressive than Alonso. On one side because he took advantage of FA’s DNFs and outscored him in the last 5 GPs, on the other because Massa had a taller ladder to climb in order to reach this kind of performance. So, more impressive – sure, better – no.

        However, I’d say Alonso still lost the “best driver on the grid” title to Vettel and the “most consistent driver on the grid” title to Raikkonen.

        • Kingshark (@kingshark) said on 14th October 2012, 11:13

          However, I’d say Alonso still lost the “best driver on the grid” title to Vettel and the “most consistent driver on the grid” title to Raikkonen.

          I would assume based on the last 5 races only, right?

          • Obviously, yeah. :)

          • babis1980 (@babis1980) said on 14th October 2012, 14:59

            Kimi is in my opinion the best driver this year. In the second half of the season his car is at least the forth fastest or maybe fifth given the speed of that sauber. But he is still seeing the chequered flag and he is always in the good points. And this is his comeback season after a 2year break. So next year he will be even better. Fernando was the best until Japan when he did is first mistake in a race, (actually he did the same thing in Monaco but he get away with it). The only mistake Kimi did this season is not overtaking Vettel in Bahrain when he had the chance (and some average qualifying sessions but everyone have their moments in qualy so I don’t count them as a mistakes).

            I am a Massa fan and I am very happy for his driving in the last few races. I think that he is finally comfortable in that Ferrari car. He declared that his team found a way to set up the car in Monaco that suit his driving style but from Silverstone onwards he is pretty descent. He was unlucky in Germany and Singapore but all the other races were ok. He finally understood the tires and their lifecycle so he is not fading in the race as he was last year. In 2011 his Saturdays were ok, very close to Alonso or better (few times) but he was fading like a candle in the races.

            But I am not very happy with the prospect seeing him staying in Ferrari though. He will never be their main man as he was in 2008 because Fernado is not Kimi. Alonso will never let that happened so I can’t understand why he want to stay. Plus there is this old rumor about Vettel in 2014. So 2013 is an one off. He could have a great second career with Sauber or Lotus (because of the Todt connection with the French team) and have a win or two next year. I believe that he still has it in him and that he is super quick. If he was lets say in Lotus or Sauber he would destroy any driver paired with him except Lewis and Alonso, Lewis because he is the fastest of all and Alonso because he is the main man. Like what is happening in McLaren right now. Until Singapore Button was 1 second of Lewis and after the announcement of his new contract he is 0.5 sec slower? At Japan Lewis was nowhere in comparison and they blaming the bad “set up”. Yesterday JB failed to q2 and magically Lewis found his form in the last run in q1. Anyway I wish him good luck with his new contract.

            Finally, the championship is Sebastian to loose. I can’t imagine happening the same thing with red bull as McLaren unless Tombazis and Fry have 4 aces under their sleeves. Let’s see how this championship will unfold these last 6 weeks.

            Sorry for this extra long comment. :)

          • @babis1980

            Kimi is in my opinion the best driver this year

            He’s one of the best and the most consistent, now that Alonso hit trouble, but not THE best. Regardless of Alonso’s mistakes and poorer-than-Vettel’s pace in the past couple of races, don’t forget he’s still the driver who managed to build a serious championship lead in a car that was generally the 5th or 6th fastest at the beginning of the season. In my book that takes serious skills. And then there’s Vettel – the only driver on the grid who managed to pull of perfect weekends so far. Kimi knows what he’s doing but he had some trouble setting the car up to his liking in the early stages of the season, he had some trouble understanding the tyres and he still has trouble in quali. I’d say, for once, the current WDC standings reflect quite accurately who the best 4 drivers on the grid are, in order.

      • Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 14th October 2012, 11:12

        Qualifying isn’t everything. Just look at Perez vs Kobayashi. Or Prost vs Senna.

        Italy – Massa without a tow was faster than Alonso without a tow in the very same session actually. It’s just that when the moment came to actually use Massa to tow Alonso, the latter’s car failed, which also hampered Massa’s attempts. The thing with the tyres is somewhat unforgivable, but then there was no telemetry for pretty much the entire race.

        Singapore – Massa genuinely had better pace than Alonso for the entire race and he made his supersofts last 20 laps, aka 33% more than anyone else on the track. And that’s with a car that eats tyres for breakfast. Alonso was also very lucky not to run into traffic, which screwed over loads of drivers that were supposed to be ahead of him. Massa, on the other hand, had to drive his way through the backmarkers on a track that isn’t known for overtaking. And it’s not like today’s backmarkers are all that eager to let others pass. Just look at Karthikeyan in Malaysia and Glock just now.

        Japan – Massa had better pace all weekend but Ferrari gave him the wrong set of tyres at the end of Q2. He’s the only driver that didn’t improve his time (whereas everyone gained .5s at the very least), which knocked him out. The first lap incident was also 100% Alonso’s fault.

        Korea – Outraces? Are you kidding me? Alonso was slower in every single stint. Massa, on the other hand, was keeping up with Vettel and was faster than Webber. The only reason why nothing could develop from that was because Smedley told him to back off (aka team orders). As soon as Massa realized that there was no reason to push anymore (thanks to Alonso being in front and Raikkonen being 18s behind), he just resorted to saving his tyres, which is reflected in the lap times – while he was beating Alonso before that, he instantly dropped back to 1.45s.

        And points are almost never a good display of who the better driver is.

        • Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 14th October 2012, 11:13

          And as an add-on for Italy, both Alonso and Massa hit the cliff at the end.

          • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th October 2012, 12:56

            It’s the cars guys, they have changed, the drivers are still the same. Alonso was driving to a plan, Webber was driving to a plan, Massa needed a reminder to drive to the plan.

          • Sounds to me as though you’re not too keen on Alonso, Pamphlet. It’s great to see Massa back on form, and he has driven exceptionally well, but it’s always obvious when someone dislikes a driver as they jump on any opportunity to discredit their abilities. Alonso this year has proven that he is the driver to beat (along with Vettel of course). It is reflected in the standings and the performance of both drivers.

          • F1fanNL (@) said on 14th October 2012, 15:49

            @ HoHum,

            Even after backing off twice Massa found himself catching Alonso again. It wasn’t until the very last laps when Massa cruised to the finish and Alonso tried to reel in Webber that Alonso opened a gap to Massa.

            Anyway, looking at the entire race, Massa started well behind Alonso but had a quicker 1st and 2nd stint and impressively drove up to Alonso’s gearbox even though a lot of people seem to think Massa can’t even touch Alonso.
            If Massa had been given free reigns he would have at least challenged Alonso. The “his tyres would have gone off” argument is nonsense. His previous stints were just as long as Alonso’s and considerably faster.

          • Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 14th October 2012, 16:17

            @Gaz – You’re not bringing any arguments to the table, you know.

            To put it mildly, Massa has scored more points than Alonso in the last 4 races. That says something. And no, Japan was Alonso’s fault, whereas Singapore wasn’t Massa’s fault. The difference would’ve been even bigger if it wasn’t for the team orders.

        • Douglas (@mwahahaha) said on 14th October 2012, 17:56

          I’m sorry Pamphlet but if Alonso had been able to finish Japan and Spa, he would have finished ahead of Felipe, you can’t doubt that on Alonso’s current form. Granted, Alonso could have avoided his tangle with Raikkonen and Felipe was obviously faster at this race, so you could say Felipe was more impressive for those two races.

          Bear in mind though that Japan was Massa’s first podium in almost 3 years. Fernando has won races and had podiums constantly this year, last year and the year before, fighting for the championship this year and in 2010. Fernando has proven that he is by far the better driver.

          Felipe has definitely turned a corner, but hes only performed better the last two races while Fernando has asserted himself as the number one driver from the start.

        • Jay Menon (@jaymenon10) said on 15th October 2012, 1:41

          This is really irritating. Suddenly Massa is a better driver than Alonso, but just a few weeks ago, most people on here was saying he was done! Shows the fickle nature of the so called “fans” on this site.

          Some of you sound like you had been on the Ferrari pit wall during the race, perhaps even privy to team strategy that neither SD, AS and RS were aware off? So yes, Massa did catch Alonso and was asked to back off, so what? At this stage in the championship, this is exactly what Massa should be doing! About time as well. All year long, Fernando has been a one man show, at least Felipe has decided to show up now. This is a team sport ( and many of you will surely disagree with this).

          We dont know what Ferrari’s strategy was. It looked to me like Fernando dropped back from Webber to probably save his tyres to have a go at the end, as RBR were predicting/unsure of when their tyres will go off the cliff. I say this because in the last 10 laps, Fernando really upped his pace and started catching Webber, until his own tyres went off the cliff.

          Massa probably had more pace. If this was the case, perhaps Felipe should have been allowed to pass Fernando, in order to reel in Webber, harass him into loosing time, which then allow Fernando to regain and position and potentially challenge for 2nd?

          Now if the above was true…why didnt they do it? This would have been in the best interest of the team and more importantly Fernando’s title bid. Thats because they probably had a different strategy… that didnt pay off in the end.

          The teams pay top dollar to some of the brightest engineers in the world to manage these races, but hey, what do they know huh? You hacks seems to have things pretty much figured out.

      • Mads (@mads) said on 14th October 2012, 11:20

        @kingshark

        Korea – Alonso out qualifies and out races Massa. I don’t care how impressive Felipe was in the race. he was beaten fair and square.

        Because its ‘fair and square’ when one driver is ordered to stay behind his team mate.
        Like Schumacher ‘fair and square’ overtook Barichello in Austria 2002.
        I completely agree with the decision Ferrari made with Massa. But don’t pretend like Alonso beat him in the race. Whether Massa could have overtaken Alonso, I don’t know. But that doesn’t change the fact that Massa wasn’t allowed to have a go at him.

      • Colm (@colm) said on 14th October 2012, 12:13

        Massa could have caught and overtaken Alonso today had he been aloud!

    • pSynrg (@psynrg) said on 14th October 2012, 11:22

      Massa has certainly upped his game and it’s great to see but you also need to consider than Alonso is playing the numbers game.

      Alonso knew full well that 3rd was the absolute best he could hope for here and so made it stick. Everything to lose he drove a conservative race.

      Massa on the other hand is literally driving for his career every time he gets in the car. Doing alright too….

      • Massa has certainly upped his game and it’s great to see but you also need to consider than Alonso is playing the numbers game.

        Exactly. Who’s the best between Alonso and Massa on a short term / per-race analysis is a rather irrelevant fact now. Ferrari are in a very good position now that Massa came back to his senses. They have Alonso charging for the WDC, focused entirely on this objective and Massa right there for them to use in order to reinforce their WCC charge. It’s the perfect duo / scenario for the Scuderia and more than enough for Massa to keep his seat for 2013 as well.

        I’d say they’re in an even better position than Red Bull at the moment, as Massa looked quicker and more consistent than Webber since Spa. From this point of view I’d say it’s good at Maranello. If only it would have been this close between their drivers from the beginning of the season…

    • Markus Bauer (@hatzenbach) said on 14th October 2012, 13:58

      He never was……

      • Pamphlet (@pamphlet) said on 14th October 2012, 15:48

        He was, for a bit. Hamilton was pulling off some sick drives while the car was bad and he kept it up for a while after that, but he’s dropped off since then. Vettel was highly erratic in the middle part of the season, and it culminated with that post-race penalty after illegally passing Button, but I think he’s back to being the better driver now.

    • AldoG said on 14th October 2012, 14:41

      I agree. I don’t want to enter the discussion about qualifying pace/race pace, but on racing Sundays, Massa has been consistent and fast, and it seems to me that he finally understood how to deal with the tires. What I wonder is if there is any connection between Massa’s pace in the last races and Alonso’s drop in performance… I am sure Alonso wants a second driver in the team, but NOT one that is faster than him on Sundays…

  6. It’s Alonso or Vettel for sure now. 62 points Hamilton is behind by with only 100 points up for grabs. With Vettel and Red Bull’s recent form, I’m definitely favouring Red Bull to retain both championships.

    • Mads (@mads) said on 14th October 2012, 11:24

      @vettel1
      Had Hamilton been 62 points behind one driver, then it would have been a long shot but still possible. But it is outright impossible that the sports two top drivers, in what is currently, the top two cars, will both suffer 2 DNF’s, and a few bad races, all in which Hamilton wins. It just cannot happen.
      McLaren has sold his championship chances.

      • @mads – exactly, if either one of them score 38 points in 4 races then Hamilton’s out of it. Even then, as you said, he would still have to win every race and, judging by McLaren’s recent performance relative to Red Bull (and now Ferrari) that’s a highly unrealistic proposition.
        The championships’ Red whatever happens, wether its a Bull or a Prancing Horse remains to be seen.

        • Or, put it this way, he needs to on average more than double the points scored by both Alonso and Vettel. I don’t think he could do that even if their cars suddenly turned into Force Indias!

  7. Manter MBS (@sridharbhanu) said on 14th October 2012, 10:42

    Excellent drive by Hulkenberg. And the Force India pace was laudable.

    • smokinjoe (@smokinjoe) said on 14th October 2012, 11:15

      The decision to drop Sutil last finally make sense ..they found a star in hulk,but I wonder will hulk still there with the team because there is a strong rumour that he will be moving to sauber next year to fill the vacant seat left by Perez

  8. interview with Hamilton after the race was odd rather like someone was holding a gun to his back, forcing him to talk to the press, and the Guardian was quoting him saying he hasn’t had much luck on ‘his side of the garage’ for the last 3 races. At least he raced, I felt sorry for Button, Kobayashi, hero to zero, oh dear. Now, if the race stewards are going to come down like a ton of bricks on Grosjean (which I hurry to add he has deserved), a drive through penalty for Kobayashi’s actions that put out Rosberg and Button was very light.

  9. MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 14th October 2012, 10:44

    I think that Webber had a good start, but focused too much of his attention fending off Hamilton and Alonso, instead of battling Vettel. Mark did a great job for his team mate at the start and I think that Seb should thank him for it.

    Hamilton’s problems with the car made this race a little bit interesting. Initially I thought it was just a bad tyre choice, as the car was much faster on the super soft compound, and the first set of yellows didn’t last much longer than reds. But apparently Hamilton’s car had broken a rear anti-roll bar near the end of the first stint.

    Now that McLaren is out of the race I really hope Ferrari will get their act together. I don’t want both titles going to Red Bull again.

    • Melchior (@melchior) said on 14th October 2012, 11:05

      I think that Webber had as good a start as Vettlel but strangely Webber’s car looked slower in the run to turn 1.

      • HoHum (@hohum) said on 14th October 2012, 13:02

        Bit of a mystery that.

      • The plan was vettel to take the lead from the first corner. Was too risky to stay behind Webber with Alonso too colose. So yes was a team order predefined, but red bull had the right to do it and that was the right thing. Team order exist from 1950 when formula 1 starts and every team use them. I didn’t see anything wrong for the fact that Webber was under team orders during the whole race. Vettel is fighting for the championship and only one can win it.

        • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 14th October 2012, 15:03

          @fanser Again I have to marvel at the eagerness of some to see a conspiracy in everything in defiance of logic and common sense.

          Before the race Christian Horner made it abundantly clear none would be issued. Even if he had, Webber has never shown the slightest interest in obeying team orders on the rare occasion they’ve been issued, and he stated as much before the races as well.

          And even if you choose to think both of them are lying, there’s the obvious point that the start of the race, when their rivals are just metres behind, would be the very worst time to try to orchestrate a change of positions. Much easier simply to have Webber back off and let Vettel past later on.

          • Palle (@palle) said on 14th October 2012, 17:53

            Yes, I thought Webber had one of his better starts actually, or Vettel had a not so good start, but by moving towards Webber the two RBR’s effectively blocked the chargers from behind. I think otherwise maybe Alonso could have sneaked past Webber also.

          • I didn’t say that it was a conspiracy. RB has the right to do it. Im pro co-workers or team workers or team orders…we can call them as we like but in then end of the day is just that they work for the same interest. there are plenty of prove to see that webber was more concerned to take Alonso behind that look for winning the race… In the second stint of tyres for example,in the end of the race etc…If i was the boss of RB i will do exactly the same and if Massa was in the same position he will do exactly the same.

            To be honest is not that they are lying in TV is just that they say what people want to listen. If Horner says that:” yes we plan to let vettel first form the first corner” it will be good for the televisions…i dont think so.

            Yes it’s risky to orchestrate a change of positions at the start but it was a risk to take. Newey says that they were not sure for the race pace and Ferrari look to close. Imagine that Vettel was second with alonso 3rd right there behind him it will be more difficult to change positions.
            It is not that webber was order to let Vettel pass but i’m pretty sure that the situation was: “If vettel makes a good start let him pass dont try to defend your position. Its important for us that Seb be first as soon as possible. Normally if vettel don’t make a good start than just look for yourself”. And in fact Webber didn’t make any manoeuvre to defend his position like Alonso did with raikkonen in the start.
            Nothing wrong with the fact that Red bull work like a team.

          • alexx_88 (@alexx_88) said on 14th October 2012, 18:33

            It’s interesting what Webber had to say on BBC, regarding the start and the clutch settings. He was somewhat suggesting that, despite the fact that the engineers continuously told him to make various changes to the clutch during the formation lap, he still had plenty of wheel-spin going off the line.

            I don’t find it hard to believe that RB are trying to nurture their championship chances by deliberately putting Vettel ahead of Webber after the start, while, at the same time, not wanting to have the bad publicity and morale-killer for the other driver that a message over the radio would have.

          • RAMBO said on 14th October 2012, 23:10

            Why would they risk that at the start. If Webber would have had a bad start, Alonso and Hamilton would have overtaken him as well. They could well have him in first after the first corner and let Vettel past there, without any issues. Instead, Webber fel behind and attacked(!) Vettel going into turn two.

  10. forgot to mention Hulkenberg, great drive there. anyone catch the bit about Sauber having two new drivers next season?

  11. sumedh said on 14th October 2012, 10:46

    He managed to find somewhere to park it on the barrier-lined straight leading to turn two.

    I think it is turn three. Right?

  12. Vettel and Red Bull are demonstrating something incredibly important here, that when you have a strong car you have to make the most of it and fair play to Vettel he is once again taking full advantage. Its why I think Button’s win is underrated in 09, yes he had a quick car but Mclaren have showed this year that is not sufficient on its own. Mclaren and Hamilton have abjectly failed to make the most of their package throughout the season for a combination of different reasons, and Lotus with Raikkonen and Grosjean have had the same problem to a certain extent.

    Personally I would prefer now it is a two horse race for Alonso to win, not that Vettel would be undeserving but 6 years without a title is too long for such a great driver, especially given how consistently outstanding he has driven this year. However Formula One is about the car as well as the driver and Vettel really is the master of taking full advantage when a situation may fall his way. Like in 2010, he has been absolutely brilliant since halfway and that is surely no coincidence. He is excellent under pressure and unless Ferrari improve their car Alonso is effectively fighting with one hand tied behind his back now Vettel and Red Bull have got it together.

    • Karthikeyan (@ridiculous) said on 14th October 2012, 11:04

      Vettel and Red Bull are demonstrating something incredibly important here, that when you have a strong car you have to make the most of it and fair play to Vettel he is once again taking full advantage. Its why I think Button’s win is underrated in 09, yes he had a quick car but Mclaren have showed this year that is not sufficient on its own. Mclaren and Hamilton have abjectly failed to make the most of their package throughout the season for a combination of different reasons, and Lotus with Raikkonen and Grosjean have had the same problem to a certain extent.

      This – making hay when the sun shines. When the season started they didn’t have the car to put the car on pole but kept stealing the podiums from McLaren, Mercedes and to some extent Lotus. Their only failure on not maximizing their chances was Valencia.

    • Simon999 (@simon999) said on 14th October 2012, 11:49

      Mclaren and Hamilton have abjectly failed to make the most of their package throughout the season for a combination of different reasons.

      This season, I think it’s diffiuclt to lay much of the failure at Hamilton’s door. The setup decision in Spa, maybe, but beyond that the car / team has consistently let him down. The irony is that he’s driven possibly the best season of his career, done very little wrong, but is even behind one of the Lotus cars in the drivers’ championship.

      • I actually agree with you, Hamilton has driven very well this season, as well as anyone in fact but you have to win as a team and lose as a team and overall their performance in the championship reflects that they haven’t as good a job as they should have done.

        • canberra said on 14th October 2012, 18:23

          I think hamilton has driven great in qualifying – the best of any driver, he has matched his car potential, but in races, no way, he has not show much at all compared to say alonso and vettel and even the renault drivers, the teams errors are just giving him and his fans something to hide behind. the first race of the year set the standard, great qualifying, and then beaten by button in the race. so many races we have seen him complain of tyre wear, and his race stints have never been a match for his qualifying. at the end of the season many people will blame the team, but even without errors, and dnfs equalled out with what alonso and vettel have, i think he has underperformed, given he has had the fastest car for more races then redbull or ferrari, and would still fall short in the championship. even before todays race suspension problem, he was behind 2 redbulls and a ferrari.

          • MylesW (@mpw1985) said on 14th October 2012, 22:04

            Canberra, that is just blatantly wrong. I’m a Hamilton fan, for sure, so I will defend him, but I mostly like to see fairness and (relative) lack of bias in these forums to promote good discussion. I mean, how can you write what you just did with a straight face? Hamilton’s race pace has been very impressive, and in fact, he’s actually averaged BETTER race pace and tyre conservation than “super smooth” Button. I honestly don’t know where you get that impression- it’s like a political talking point that’s ingrained in people’s minds but not backed up by facts. Hamilton fans aren’t “hiding” behind these errors, because these errors (or accidents out of Hamilton’s hands) really are to blame. 16 second pit stops, underfueling the car, gearbox failures- these things all add up. REPUTABLE sources, like Autosport, have all agreed that Hamilton has conservatively lost 60 points because of team errors. I’m not quite sure what else I can say. If you really think Hamilton is underperforming, I suggest you look at where his teammate was in those races. Just because you think McLaren had the best car in any given race, and that Hamilton should have won hands down, doesn’t make it true, as much as you want to believe it.

    • clay (@clay) said on 14th October 2012, 15:01

      Think back to the debacle that was Alonso at McLaren. I seem to recall talk that RBR offered him a contract but he was determined to go to Ferrari. What has happened since? Brawn won their titles through creative interpreting of the rules, then Newey got his act together and RBR built dominant cars. It’s a bit like Senna was at the end of his McLaren days – it was a great team but was being dominated by Williams. Alonso is a great driver (probably the best on the grid now) but Ferrari is not the team it once was.

      I’m not a Vettel fan but respect to him, Newey and RBR – you don’t win 3 titles in a row (I know I’m jumping the gun here but sue me…) by not being very, very good. Alonso had the pick of any team he wanted to go to and he gambled on Ferrari which so far has not paid off. Deal with it…

      • brny666 said on 14th October 2012, 16:38

        Exeactly. If Fernando does not win any titles with Ferrari he will go down in history as one of the best only to win 2 titles and being let down by the Red team, however as the saying goes “You’ve Dug Your Own Grave, Now Lie In It”. Not saying he made a completely stupid decision based on the Ferrari of the early 2000s but you’d think if he wanted more WDC titles he would have looked at more than just how a team performed in the least decade and considered which teams have the best potential technical staff for future. And at the time Alonso moved Ferrari changed their wining formula (Todt, Byrne, Brawn) to pro-Italian which has to be said wasn’t the greatest move. Also imagine he did move to RBR back in 2008 now he would have Schumacher like status who built a team from nothing to everything, but because RBR won with their own youngster (Vettel) who was not an already established champion most of the glory seems to be heading Neweys way.

    • Sorry said on 14th October 2012, 21:38

      Button fans are hilarious.
      Button is not a top 3 driver in F1, simple as that. Hamilton drove a great season, while Button not, deal with it.

  13. raymondu999 (@raymondu999) said on 14th October 2012, 10:59

    @keithcollantine I’m quite sure Button was hit at Turn 3 – it was a righthander hairpin no?

  14. QForce said on 14th October 2012, 11:02

    Koba has apologized for causing the crash and Autosport has published an article about it. Good chap (no finger pointing and all). Will be sad to see him leave. Was and still is the best hope for an Asian Champion in the future.

  15. Thomas (@infi24r) said on 14th October 2012, 11:11

    How high would have Dan Ricciardo got if not for his Qualifying penalty and suspension failure during the race? He matched Kimi on pace most of the race, it was a superb drive, if not an unlucky one.

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