VF1blog: Vettel secures victory in crazy Korean GP
Sebastian Vettel has stormed to his fourth successive Formula 1 victory for Red Bull, after an utterly crazy 55-lap race around the Korea International Circuit. The race was plagued by two safety car periods, as a frenetic race ensued up and down the order. Sebastian Vettel was joined on the podium by the Lotus duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean, with Nico Hulkenberg an impressive 4th for Sauber.
t the start Sebastian Vettel enjoyed a tremendous getaway off of the line, cruising into the lead of the race whereas Lewis Hamilton struggled and instantly came under pressure from the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. As the field streamed down the long straight between Turns 2 and 3, the Frenchman managed to perfect an overtaking maneuver on Lewis Hamilton for 2nd as the pack ran five-wide at one stage on the run down to Turn 3. Under braking Felipe Massa lost control of the rear of his Ferrari, which subsequently saw the Brazilian driver come to a halt in the middle of the track.
Although Felipe Massa was able to continue circulating, albeit towards the back of the pack, a concertina-effect rippled through the midfield as many drivers strove to avoid the stricken Ferrari. Both Adrian Sutil and Jenson Button sustained minor front-wing damage in the process, which accounted for their early pit-stops for replacements. After starting the race from way down in 13th position, the Australian sensation began gradually climbing his way through the order with an overtaking maneuver on the McLaren of Sergio Perez and then the Williams of Pastor Maldonado.
As the opening laps of the race ensued, Felipe Massa became the next driver to pit for Ferrari as Jenson Button managed to produce the fastest lap of the race after pitting for new tyres and a front-wing. Pastor Maldonado, Paul di Resta and Esteban Gutierrez all elected to pit a lap later, as Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi came under investigation after an opening lap misdemeanor. Whilst several more pit-stops ensued up and down the order, Kimi Raikkonen managed to find a way around the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, before he too elected to pit along with the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton. After being investigated by the stewards for forcing Jules Bianchi off of the circuit at the start, Giedo van der Garde was struck with a drive-thru penalty. This decision by the stewards would undoubtedly have left a bitter taste in the mouthes within the Caterham camp, as the Dutchman was running a competitive 12th at the time of his penalty.
On Lap 10 Romain Grosjean pitted from 2nd position, with the Frenchman enjoying a highly competitive opening few laps to the Korean Grand Prix. Upon returning to the action he was only just able to remain ahead of the Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton, as the duo battled fiercely for position through Turns 3 and 4. Whilst the 2008 World Champion strove to find a way around the Lotus driver, race leader Sebastian Vettel pitted. Once again the Red Bull mechanics perfected a smooth stop for the German, as Mark Webber amazingly assumed the lead of the race despite starting from a lowly 13th position.
The Australian sensationís lead at the front was unfortunately short-lived, as he soon pitted and therefore ceded the lead of the race back to his German team-mate. Whilst Sebastian Vettel opened up the gap at the front to the Lotus of Romain Grosjean, action further down the order saw Sergio Perez come under investigation from the stewards for allegedly forcing Paul di Resta off of the track. By Lap 17, everyone except the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo had carried out at least one pit-stop. This left the Australian driver a strong 4th ahead of the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg, who quickly managed to find a way around the future Red Bull driver.
On Lap 26 Paul di Resta became the first retirement of the race, after he lost control of his Force India through the tricky Turn 12 and subsequently buried his car in the retaining tyre barrier. This was the 27-year-oldís fifth consecutive retirement behind the wheel of his Force India VJM06, amid a disappointing second half of the season for the Silverstone-based outfit. As the stricken Force India was gradually cleared under double-waved yellows by the Korean marshals, Mark Webber managed to find a way around the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso for 5th.
Utter mayhem was unleashed on Lap 28, when Nico Rosberg tried to overtake team-mate Lewis Hamilton. In the process the Germanís front-wing became dislodged, creating a spectacular sight as sparks flew over the front of the Mercedes machine. Miraculously Nico Rosberg managed to both maintain control of his car and complete the overtaking maneuver on Lewis Hamilton, before limping back to the pits for a new front-wing. This in turn forced his British team-mate to remain out on track for another lap, despite suffering from severely degraded tyres in 3rd position.
Due to Lewis Hamiltonís struggle on his second set of tyres, the 2008 World Champion was in danger of being caught by the Red Bull of Mark Webber, who elected to pit on Lap 31. A lap later further madness ensued when Sergio Perezís front-right tyre exploded down the long straight between Turns 2 and 3, showering the circuit in debris and pieces of rubber. The Mexican sensation managed to remain in control of his McLaren, as the safety car was unsurprisingly called upon due to the amount of debris on the track.
Almost immediately after the safety carís deployment, both Sebastian Vettel and Romain Grosjean pitted at the front along with many other drivers up and down the order. After several long laps behind the safety car, the race was resumed with Sebastian Vettel in the lead of the race ahead of the Lotus of Romain Grosjean. However, the safety car was called upon shortly after the restart, amid further confusion and madness involving an incident between Adrian Sutil and Mark Webber. The Force India driver lost control of his car under braking much like Felipe Massa at the start, and collected Mark Webber at Turn 3. The Australian driverís car immediately caught fire, and continued to burn through the rear of the car.
Eventually a fire truck was deployed to assist with the blaze, however the safety car had yet to be deployed creating a peculiar scenario as race leader Sebastian Vettel caught up with the fire truck only moments before the safety car was deployed. Prior to Sutil and Webberís collision, Kimi Raikkonen managed to overtake Romain Grosjean for 2nd with Nico Hulkenberg 4th for Sauber. Once the race was finally resumed on Lap 40, Sebastian Vettel managed to storm off into the distance once again with Kimi Raikkonen in hot pursuit for Lotus. Further back Fernando Alonso desperately tried to overtake Lewis Hamilton for 5th, however the former McLaren driver managed to defend his position and begin catching Nico Hulkenberg.
As the race entered its closing stages, a highly frenetic battle within the midfield ensued between the likes of Felipe Massa, Sergio Perez, Pastor Maldonado, Esteban Gutierrez and Valtteri Bottas. After causing the second safety car period and signaling the end of Mark Webberís race, Adrian Sutil was struck with a drive-thru penalty for speeding in the pits. During the final few laps Lewis Hamilton desperately tried to perfect an overtaking maneuver on Nico Hulkenberg for 4th, however the straight-line speed of the Sauber coupled with the Germanís superb defensive driving saw him remain ahead of the Briton.
After a torrid second half of the race for Adrian Sutil, the German eventually pitted into retirement on Lap 52, as Nico Rosberg muscled his way around the McLaren of Jenson Button for 7th. During the final few laps both the Toro Rosso driversí of Daniel Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne entered retirement due to mechanical issues, as Sebastian Vettel remained dominant out in front ahead of the Lotus of Kimi Raikkonen. Eventually the reigning Champion crossed the line to take yet another victory for Red Bull, and his hat-trick of victories around the Korea International Circuit.
The Lotus duo of Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean joined Sebastian Vettel on the podium, with the Sauber of Nico Hulkenberg undoubtedly securing the driver of the day award after fending off the advances of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso to finish a highly competitive 4th. After a thrilling and frenetic 55-lap race around the Korea International Circuit, the sport will now immediately depart for Suzuka in preparation for the Japanese Grand Prix next weekend. Sebastian Vettel could well clinch the title in Japan, a trait which has been achieved by many of the greats in past including the German in 2011.
Author: Andy Young
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