Not on Pole position, so what? He’ll still take the victory. Sebastian Vettel celebrated winning the 2011 WDC by notching up victory at the Korean Grand Prix as he made an excellent start off P2 position at the start of the race to slot into the lead and held onto it all throughout. Lewis Hamilton finished second having started from pole, ahead of Mark Webber who was all over the McLaren towards the final laps and even passed it twice but couldn’t make the move stick as Lewis fought back to retake his position after each move.
Jenson Button finished fourth, hounded all the way to the chequered flag by the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso who ultimately settled for fifth place. Felipe Massa finished sixth, ahead of Jaime Algersuari in seventh, Nico Rosberg in eighth, Sebastian Buemi in ninth and Paul di Resta in tenth. The race had three retirements – Pastor Maldonado with mechanical failure and Vitaly Petrov & Michael Schumacher as a result of Petrov ploughing into the back of Schumacher and taking out the front and back wings of the Renault & the Mercedes respectively.
The start of the race was where it was all won as Vettel had a clean start off the dirty side of the track but still got the power down as he passed the McLaren of Hamilton into turn four. Mark Webber also had a decent start and slotted into third position as Jenson Button slipped back, allowing the two Ferraris to get ahead of him. There was a bit of passing and re-passing between the lead pack but as it shook down, Vettel had the lead with Hamilton & Webber behind – the order staying the same till the end.
Tyre wear was not as high as expected and all of the front-runners only made two stops. Alonso’s second stop enabled him to leap-frog Massa into fifth place but could not close down fourth placed Button enough to make a pass. Webber and Hamilton stopped on the same lap the second time around but even though Webber passed Hamilton as the latter slid wide on his cold tyres, a DRS + KERS move enabled Hamilton to take that place back. Cannot help but think that if Webber had stayed for a few laps longer, he might have been able to pip Hamilton into second place.
The only major incident in the race was Petrov running into Schumacher at turn three, ending both their races. Fernando Alonso was a whisker away from being run-into by the out-of-control Renault but he managed to avoid that whereas the Mercedes wasn’t as lucky. The debris on the track brought out the Safety Car for two laps and at the restart, the racing resumed without no more incidents.
Red Bull clinched the Constructors’ Championship for the second consecutive season as their first and third place finish gives them an un-surmountable lead over McLaren in the standings.
Next race on the calendar is the inaugural Indian Grand Prix – an unknown territory for all of the teams! I’ll have to be content with watching the race on the TV, though 😦