Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Avoiding Most of Race Excitement, Vettel Wins Korean Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti
The sixth race remaining on the 2013 Formula 1 tour, the Korean Grand Prix welcomes the 22-car field for the fall round. The fourth Formula 1 race for the Korea International Circuit, the staging of the 2013 event comes as certainty surrounds the future for the grand prix.
For the eventual victor of the 2013 edition of the Korean Grand Prix, the honour was settled quickly. Polesitter Sebastian Vettel used a strong launch to propel him into the race lead. For 55 laps, the German driver of the #1 Red Bull-Renault enjoyed a relatively textbook victory. The latest in a season that is shaping into a fourth straight championship for Sebastian Vettel, the ease of mounting a race-long leading pace gave competitors no meaningful chance of beating the Red Bull Racing pilot in this 2013 Korean Grand Prix.
As Vettel effectively enjoyed a Sunday drive at the Korea International Circuit, the major action took place behind the leading Red Bull-Renault. Despite forecasts that the race would take place during a wet afternoon, the 2013 Korea Grand Prix proceeded on a dry race surface. On the start, Felipe Massa's Ferrari spun his Ferrari forcing many drivers to take evasive action. As the race progressed, many teams competing in the 27 degree Celsius weather contended with wear of their Pirelli tires. Tire marbles rapidly littered the track outside of the racing line.
In the early stage of the Korean Grand Prix, Mark Webber's Red Bull-Renault RB9 began making significant progress coming from the 13th place grid position. Qualifying third but demoted 10 places for an incident at the race in Singapore, Webber is intent to prove that the Red Bull Racing could deliver a firm one-two punch. Equally as impressive in race trim were the two Lotus F1 Team cars. Starting third, Romain Grosjean provided a solid effort maintaining a spot in the top-three. Joining Grosjean from a ninth place starting position, the second Lotus-Renault of Kimi Raikkonen mounted another big gain during a grand prix event.

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

While the Renault engines were humming at the front, the Mercedes-Benz powerplants propelling Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton were not singing harmoniously with their race cars. Hamilton experienced difficulty keeping pace for the Red Bull Racing and Lotus F1 Team cars with his Mercedes AMG machine citing a lack of traction during the event. Nico Rosberg's race would be dramatic past the halfway mark in the Korean Grand Prix when the front wing and nose section of his Mercedes AMG car partly detached. After several laps where the front end of his race car was scrapping the track surface, Rosberg pitted for a replacement nose piece.  
Photo Credit: Mercedes AMG
The Korean Grand Prix was slowed on two occasions in the middle stage for a safety car period. The first use of the safety car occurred on lap 31 after a series of events. First, Paul di Resta spun his Force India-Mercedes and crashed. Following the race, di Resta responded, “I have to hold my hands up and apologise to the team. Maybe I took a little bit too much kerb and that’s sent me off the track.". There was also a major field of debris created when a tire on Sergio Perez's McLaren-Mercedes came apart. Catching debris from the McLaren on his tires, Mark Webber was forced to pit the Red Bull-Renault one lap after making a tire stop. For Webber, this positioning on the track would quickly prove costly when the race resumed. 
Shortly after the first safety car period concluded, the regrouped cars provided some dicey action that would set the atmosphere for the second safety car period on lap 38. With Paul di Resta retired, the second Force India-Mercedes lost driven by Adrain Sutil spun out in turn three. At the time, Sutil was recovering following damage on the first lap. Attempting to pass the spinning Force India race car on the outside of the corner, Red Bull's Mark Webber was speared by the rear of Sutil's vehicle. Drilled in the side pod, Webber was unconcerned for his Red Bull-Renault race car. However, it only took seconds before the Australian realized his car was seriously wounded. Stopping the Red Bull Racing machine, the rear of the car was quickly engulfed by flames. Mark Webber's podium quality performance at the Korean Grand Prix ended in a second-straight DNF.
In the initial stages of this second safety car, race officials confusingly dispatched the Marshall vehicle before the safety car. The Jeep brand Marshall vehicle would quickly concede the control of the Formula 1 field to the Mercedes-Benz SLS AMG safety car but not without attracting universal puzzlement.    

Photo Credit: Pirelli Photo Service
While Vettel stretched what would be a 4.2 second margin of victory in the closing laps of the 2013 Korean Grand Prix, the Lotus-Renaults would be acknowledged as the best-of-the-rest. With seven-tenths of a second separating each other, Kimi Raikkonen outran Romain Grosjean for second place. Improving greatly from his starting position, Raikkonen has collectively gained 16 spots between qualifying and the race for the past two grand prix events. Taking third, Grosjean's effort is the Frenchman's third occasion taking the final podium spot in 2013. Every podium finish for Romain Grosjean in the 2013 Formula 1 season was accomplished with Kimi Raikkonen taking second.
One of two Sauber-Ferrari race cars qualifying in the top-10 at the Korea International Circuit Saturday, Nico Hulkenberg ran a determined fourth place as he crossed the finish line ahead of an attacking Lewis Hamilton. Hulkenberg's result for the Sauber F1 Team is the best finish for 2013.

As a result of Sebastian Vettel's win, his points lead has increased over second-place in the standings Fernando Alonso. With Alonso finishing sixth in Korea, the margin grows by 17 points resulting in a new gap of 77 points. Taking into account a Formula 1 driver can only collect a maximum of 25 points in a race weekend, Fernando Alonso's only chance at competing against Sebastian Vettel for the 2013 World Drivers Championship would depend on the combination of a pair of Ferrari victories and Sebastian Vettel failing to score points in two of the final five rounds.

Racing on back-to-back weekends, the Formula 1 tour is heading to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix set for October 13th. Sebastian Vettel is the reigning winner of the race in Japan.

2013 Formula 1
Korean Grand Prix
Race Results

Pos # Car # Driver Team Engine

1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Renault
2 7 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus Renault
3 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault
4 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
5 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
6 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
7 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
8 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
9 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
10 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
11 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
12 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
13 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
14 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
15 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
16 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
17 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
18 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
19 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
20 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
21 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
22 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz

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