|Alonso surrenders lead to Vettel|
15 October 2012
A peerless Sebastian Vettel leapfrogged Fernando Alonso at the top of the world championship yesterday as the Red Bull driver led from the first corner to win the Korean Grand Prix.
With four races to go starting in India in two weeks, Vettel, the reigning champion who is chasing a third drivers’ title in a row, sits atop the standings with 215 points. Alonso, who finished third, has 209.
It was the 25-year-old German’s third win in three races and he will now be the favourite to retain his crown, in what had been a highly unpredictable season until he took the championship by the scruff of the neck.
Second at a cool but sunny Yeongam was Vettel’s teammate Mark Webber, who started on pole. It was the first Red Bull one-two of
Alonso’s fellow Ferrari driver Felipe Massa, second at Suzuka seven days ago, continued his resurgence with a fourth-place finish. Lewis Hamilton, who still had title aspirations going in this grand prix, finished down at 10th.
Fifth was Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus, followed by
Nico Hulkenberg in a Force India. Romain Grosjean (Lotus), Jean-Eric Vergne, Daniel Ricciardo (both Toro Rosso) and Hamilton rounded out the top 10.
“It was fantastic and I’m very happy,” Vettel told the crowd, having celebrated his 25th career victory by jumping on top of his Red Bull with his arms aloft. “It was a fantastic race. Towards the end I felt I had a bit more in the tyres,” added Vettel, whose front-right tyre in particular was badly worn by the end. He had been warned repeatedly by his team to ‘look after’ his tyres.
“I could’ve gone on a bit longer. We were all a bit worried about the front tyres.”
Alonso, also a double world champion, put a brave face on losing his lead in the standings. “We have to be happy with the performance today,” he said. “It was a good day for the team and for me.”
Jenson Button’s bad weekend finished almost as soon as the race began. His fine start from lowly 11th was wrecked when Kamui Kobayashi came flying down the inside, smashing into Button and destroying his suspension.
Vettel, the man in form after victories at the last two races in Singapore and then Japan last week, was in firm command. Webber – intentionally or not – was a buffer between the leader and the chasing pack.
Third in the championship is Raikkonen, on 167 points, followed by Hamilton (153) and Webber (152).
“I was just told by the team that we had a rear-suspension failure, but it was safe to drive so they kept me going,” said former world champion Hamilton, who also had some artificial turf stuck to his car for the last portion of the race. “It was tricky to even keep 10th place.”
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