Rating the drivers for their performance during the Korean Grand Prix
Sebastian Vettel | Infiniti Red Bull Racing | 1st | 10/10
It was a good Korea move for Vettel as he’s Incheon closer to the title after a comfortable win at Yeongam. Some say that he’s ripping the Seoul out of the sport (okay, I’ll stop) but it’s a privilege to watch a driver and team on form. He’s led 208 of the 220 racing laps at the Yeongam circuit since the start of 2010 and hasn’t been headed at the front this season since the pit stop phase at Monza. Title four beckons.
Mark Webber | Infiniti Red Bull Racing | Ret | 7/10
For the second consecutive race, Webber’s race ended with him staring at flames pouring from the back of his Red Bull. He dropped down the grid following his reprimand and was only hit by Adrian Sutil due to the misfortune of picking up a puncture in debris and therefore being out of position. Renault will investigate whether the engine can be used again and Red Bull will do the same with the chassis.
Fernando Alonso | Scuderia Ferrari | 6th | 8/10
The Ferrari has been lacking front end grip all weekend and such a deficiency really hurt around a circuit such as Yeongam. Alonso was just waiting for the car to find the apex and while he tried his hardest, he couldn’t repeat his heroics of the last few races. Scrap with Lewis Hamilton was superb but ultimately rendered nothing.
Felipe Massa | Scuderia Ferrari | 9th | 5/10
Massa didn’t do his job prospects any good with his turn three faux pas and for a driver of his calibre, his excuse was feeble. He should have anticipated the dirt off line and not had to spin to avoid making contact with Rosberg. From there he was always on the back foot, although he recovered admirably to score a handful of points.
Jenson Button | Vodafone McLaren Mercedes | 8th | 8/10
The McLaren MP4-28 remains alien to the concept of good handling although Button was hanging on to the group that involved fourth placed Nico Hülkenberg. Button sustained front wing damage at the start but the main concern was overheating brakes, which triggered a trip to the pits. Strategy was compromised slightly but the safety car aided his progress and eighth was a good result in the circumstances.
Sergio Perez | Vodafone McLaren Mercedes | 10th | 6/10
Pérez was again fairly robust in racing situations, firstly against Paul di Resta and later against Massa. He was perhaps a little fortunate to escape without a sanction but was less lucky when his tyre let go mid-race. He sustained front wing damage and slipped down the order. Pérez’s recovery was strong but without the tyre blowout, a couple more points may have been achievable.
Kimi Raikkonen | Lotus |2nd | 9/10
Räikkönen’s ability to make something out of nothing is commendable; the Finn had been struggling all weekend with the front left of his car and made a mess of his lap in qualifying. But he stayed out of trouble at the start, picked off rivals and took advantage of the misfortune that beset others to secure another podium…so more money for Lotus to part with!
Romain Grosjean | Lotus | 3rd | 9/10
Grosjean was on it all weekend in Korea and only a minor mistake cost him the runners-up slot behind Vettel. His battle with Hamilton acutely highlighted the improvement of his racecraft across the last 12 months as he positioned his car perfectly both in attack and defence. Remaining with Lotus into 2014 should be a formality.
Nico Rosberg | Mercedes AMG Petronas | 7th | 7/10
Rosberg was a little behind team-mate Hamilton throughout the weekend but was running side-by-side with the sister car when his nose segment collapsed. It was an odd failure and ultimately one that cost him a shot at the podium. He recovered well to finish seventh but it should have been more.
Lewis Hamilton | Mercedes AMG Petronas | 5th| 7/10
A disappointing race. He lost out to Grosjean at the start but worse was to come throughout the second stint, where his front right tyre was “fucked.” He then also lost out to Hülkenberg and was unable to get past the Sauber due to the superior traction of his rival.
Nico Hulkenberg | Sauber | 4th | 10/10
I know it’s a drum that’s been beaten regularly over the last few races, but what more does this man have to do to get a top seat in 2014? The C32 had good traction and straight line speed, but he pounced on his rivals at precisely the right time and defended meticulously. One of, if not the best, drives of the season.
Esteban Gutierrez | Sauber | 11th | 8/10
On paper, it looks terrible on Gutiérrez that he’s been outscored 31-0, but there are circumstances behind that deficit. He was running with Hülkenberg during the first lap until Massa created a new line at turn three and jumbled up the order of the midfield. Gutiérrez was one of the big losers and dropped to 14th; eventually recovering to 11th.
Paul di Resta | Sahara Force India | Ret | 3/10
Formula 1 changes so rapidly that just six races ago, di Resta was the star of the midfield as he racked up successive points finishes. But his season has completely unravelled after crashing out of his fourth consecutive races, the last three being his fault. The car may be difficult to drive, but he’s not covering himself in glory.
Adrian Sutil | Sahara Force India | 20th | 5/10
Then again, the other Force India driver hardly excelled. Sutil had some choice words to describe the handling of the car – rhymes with ‘ducking fit’ – and compounded woes by losing control under braking for turn three and running into the back of Webber. He also sustained a drive through penalty for speeding in the pits.
Pastor Maldonado | Williams | 13rd | 7/10
Maldonado was one of the main beneficiaries of Massa’s lapse on the opening tour as the Venezuelan ended up in the giddy heights of ninth place. Alas, such promise was ultimately unfulfilled as the Williams regressed to the mean. 2014 cannot come soon enough.
Valtteri Bottas | Williams | 12th | 7/10
There was also a spectacular battle mid-race between Massa, Pérez, Gutiérrez and Maldonado in which the four traded places without debris being littered across Mokpo. Bottas lurked in the background and was probably disappointed at the clean racing, although he picked off team-mate Maldonado during the scrap.
Jean-Eric Vergne | Scuderia Toro Rosso | 18th | 6/10
At a circuit where Toro Rosso has excelled in the past, this was a particularly disappointing race. Vergne was forced to switch from a two to three stop strategy when the tyres proved to be wearing quicker than anticipated and he retired late on with a brake issue…
Daniel Ricciardo | Scuderia Toro Rosso | 19th | 8/10
…which also affected Ricciardo. The Australian was the only driver to gamble on primes at the start and the decision looked to have paid off when he gained five places on the opening lap. He was on course for a handful of points when the car lurched to the left under braking and he was forced out.
Charles Pic | Caterham | 14th | 7/10
Pic once again won the battle at the back although he sustained a needless reprimand for having a heavy right foot in a yellow flag zone. It was his third reprimand of 2013, meaning that he goes to Suzuka with a 10 place penalty. He’ll start the race, therefore, somewhere around the Casio Triangle.
Giedo van der Garde | Caterham | 15th | 5/10
Van der Garde also sustained a reprimand, but his was for exceeding the required speed under the safety car. It’s a procedure that needs refinement as everyone sits around waiting for the Caterham and Marussia drivers and a couple of potential racing laps are squandered.
Jules Bianchi | Marussia | 16th | 6/10
Bianchi was handed a reprimand for the same transgression as Pic, meaning that he’ll join his compatriot at the Casio Triangle. The penalties also highlight another issue with the sport as it’s a slightly silly sanction for the guys at the back to be given, but there’s little else that the stewards can do.
Max Chilton | Marussia | 17th | 6/10
Chilton made it four in a row at the back and was also slapped with a reprimand for exceeding the required speed under the safety car. The Brit put in a good performance and his prospects were hit slightly by the timing of the aforementioned safety car.