Monday, October 15, 2012

Vettel Takes Korean Grand Prix, F1 Driver's Points Lead

Photo Source: Pirelli Photo Service

One of only five races remaining in a turbulent 2012 Formula 1 season, the 24 cars entered the country of Korea for the third-ever time. Entering this weekend with a driver's championship that could change with a matter of a few positions on track, 55 laps around the Korean International Circuit would be the site for some dramatic action to continue fueling the wide-open 2012 tour.

Taking pole of the Korean Grand Prix, Australian Mark Webber led both the field and an all-Red Bull Racing front row. As the lights went off to start the race, Webber's teammate Sebastian Vettel showed no desire to be in second place for long. Launching perfectly, Vettel was able to capture the lead from Webber through the first corner. Mark Webber's less-than ideal start almost cost him second place as McLaren's Lewis Hamilton challenged early.

Despite the start for Lewis Hamilton, the 2012 Korean Grand Prix for McLaren F1 was a pure disaster first made evident by Jenson Button. On the first lap, Button's race ended when his McLaren-Mercedes was impacted by the Sauber-Ferrari of Kamui Kobayashi. Mercedes GP's Nico Rosberg was not part of early race contact with Kobayashi. Parking his wounded Mercedes GP along a wall opening along the DRS activation stretch, the retired German's car was a potential aid to Sebastian Vettel as a local caution bought him extra laps to build a gap. Rosberg's car was removed by lap 10 allowing the DRS zone to finally be opened. The Sauber-Ferrari served a drive-through penalty as a result of the turn 3 incident on lap 8 and would ultimately retire after completing just 16 laps as a sad follow-up to the celebratory tone of a first-ever Formula 1 podium in Japan.

With most of the field starting the race on the Pirelli supersoft compound tires, some tempted conventional wisdom by opting with the harder tire option. With a one-stop strategy contemplated at the beginning of the race for some drivers, only Pastor Maldonado's Williams-Renault and Narain Karthikeyan's HRT-Cosworth could carry out the daring plan. Ultimately, the one-stop strategy was an unwise move as both drivers finished well outside of the top-10 of the Korean Grand Prix. In fact, the Korean International Circuit proved challenging for the majority of team that chose to make the race on two stops as right front tires wear was a typical problem for runners in the race.

Photo Source: Sauber Motorsport AG

After Button's early exit, the sole hope of the McLaren-Mercedes depended on Lewis Hamilton. While going the distance, Hamilton's race was a victim of extensive wearing or "graining" throughout the Korean Grand Prix. Adapting to a three-stop plan for Pirelli tires, it was a fight by Hamilton to hold off the Sauber-Ferrari of Sergio Perez for 10th, the final point-paying position in the Formula 1 result. The final laps for the McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton was also provided with some theatrics when a piece of green carpeting of the track's curbing ripped and became tangled on the right side of the race car. The overall issues for McLaren F1 in Korea cost the race team second in the manufacturer's points to Ferrari.

With a concern of tire wear in the final laps, Sebastian Vettel crossed the start/finish line first with his Red Bull-Renault. Triumphant for his third win in a row on the Formula 1 circuit, Vettel finished 8.2 seconds ahead of his teammate Mark Webber. With Fernando Alonso only able to muster a third place effort with his Ferrari, the Korean Grand Prix ends with the German Sebastian Vettel also becoming to new driver points leader. Vettel now holds a 6-point advantage on Alonso with a four-race run left in the 2012 Formula 1 season.

Following-up a podium in the Japanese Grand Prix, Felipe Massa is showing new life with Ferrari posting a 4th place finish ahead of Kimi Raikkonen's Lotus-Renault. Sixth place for Force India, Nico Hulkenberg fought bravely throughout the Korean Grand Prix event. Romain Grosjean brought the second Lotus F1 Team car across the finish line. Not as glorious as the 1-2 showing by Red Bull Racing, the Scuderia Toro Rosso organization recorded an outstanding result with both Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo scoring points ahead of the lone McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton.

After two weeks in a row of racing, the Formula 1 series teams and drivers get a one-week rest ahead of the Indian Grand Prix on October 28th.

2012 Formula 1
Korean Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car #/ Driver/ Constructor
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault
3 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
4 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
5 9 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus-Renault
6 12 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes
7 10 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault
8 17 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
9 16 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
10 4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes
11 15 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari
12 11 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes
13 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP
14 18 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault
15 19 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault
16 21 Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault
17 20 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault
18 24 Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth
19 25 Charlie Pic Marussia-Cosworth
20 23 Narain Karthikeyan HRT F1
21 22 Pedro de la Rosa HRT F1
22 14 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari
23 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
24 3 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes

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