Vettel does it with Yeongam Style: Korean GP review

By on Sunday, October 14, 2012

Vettel takes his fourth victory of the season

With all the build-up to the race focusing on the unexpected success of ‘Gangnam Style’ – the Korean dance craze – the most exciting part of the race for the fans assembled in the main grandstand was probably the chance to see PSY, creator of the equine based dance, to wave the chequered flag. For the second successive season it was Sebastian Vettel who met the flag first, with the German having led 93% of the racing laps at the Yeongam circuit since it joined the calendar in 2010.

Vettel led after the first corner, but only after pole sitter Mark Webber bogged down at the start and didn’t make life strenuous for his team mate into turn one. Lewis Hamilton attempted to sneak through on the Australian but was in turn passed by Fernando Alonso into Turn 3. Alonso tried to get past Webber into the next set of corners, but settled for third. Behind him, Felipe Massa jumped ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, while a naturally conservative Romain Grosjean survived the first set of turns although relinquished seventh to Nico Hulkenberg.

Further back, Jenson Button and Nico Rosberg were eliminated by Kamui Kobayashi. The Japanese driver misjudged his braking point for Turn 3 and clipped both cars. Button dragged his car to the exit of Turn 4 and parked, while Rosberg almost completed another lap before parking in the DRS zone. Kobayashi lasted a few more laps although his Korea also came to an end, perhaps in more ways than one following the news post-race that Hulkenberg is set to join Sauber next season.

Rosberg’s stranded Mercedes took the marshals six laps to removed, disabling DRS and rendering passing into the hairpin of Turn 3 obsolete. By the time the yellow flags came in, thus enabling DRS, the top six had strung out sufficiently enough for DRS not to be used.

Vettel extended his lead ahead of the first round of stops, although a big lock up at Turn 3 allowed Webber to close to five seconds after the drivers swapped option tyres for prime. The order was maintained, although Massa used the DRS zone to pass Raikkonen shortly afterwards.

Alonso claimed another podium finish, but lost the championship lead

Lewis Hamilton had been struggling with the MP4-27 and his day was about to get much worse. His rear-roll bar broke on Lap 18 and Hamilton was powerless to prevent Massa from passing. He hung on against Raikkonen but made an early second stop on Lap 27. The team switched him to ‘plan B’ (a three stopper), and informed him he was battling for sixth place.

The order remained unchanged at the front after the second round of stops, although Massa was closing in on team-mate Alonso. A radio message ensured that Massa stayed behind Alonso, but not before closing back in to demonstrate that he had the pace to match his team leader.

Hamilton was trying to overtake the Toro Rosso of Jean Eric Vergne, with both drivers catching up with Daniel Ricciardo, who was struggling with a brake problem and had already run off at Turn 3. Ricciardo didn’t make life difficult for Vergne, allowing his French team mate to scamper ahead. His defence against Hamilton lasted less than a lap, for Hamilton picked up a piece of astroturf that got stuck in his sidepod and left him struggling to make the finish. The outgoing McLaren driver picked up the final point, narrowly ahead of his replacement Sergio Perez, to provide the team with their fifty-fourth consecutive points finishes, one behind Ferrari’s record.

Up front, there were few problems for Vettel. His team urged him over the radio to preserve his tyres, but he still set his fastest lap on the final tour of the circuit. A third successive victory sees him snatch the championship lead away from Fernando Alonso. The Spaniard has vowed to fight back, but the momentum is now with the German with just four rounds remaining.

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