McLAREN NIGHTMARE PROPELS VETTEL AND ALONSO INTO CHAMPIONSHIP BATTLE

15 Oct

The Michael Report- 2012 FORMULA ONE KOREAN GRAND PRIX

YEONGAM played host to a pivotal race for the standings in the Drivers’ Championship, and following a podium finish for both Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, the championship could not be as tight with just four Grands Prix remaining.

However, you might not have considered the race to be the most exhilarating, since the main game concerned rubber, and not driving ability. Nevertheless, the race wasn’t without incidents, especially if you affiliate yourselves with McLaren. It was disappointing for Jenson Button to begin eleventh, but he had an astonishing start, almost immediately overtaking the two Mercedes cars. Sadly,  Kamui Kobayashi ran straight into Button and took out both him and Nico Rosberg; Button received a puncture whilst Rosberg went into a wall  forcing both to retire before the end of the first lap. Kobayashi received a drive through penalty, but then retired due to damage sustained during the incident.

Lewis Hamilton’s race was a complete nightmare. After qualifying third, Hamilton suffered such hard luck with a combination of tyre degradation, including blistering and rear suspension damage; add a teaspoon of poor pit stops and mix with low downforce and you get the recipe for a Formula One disaster for Lewis. To add insult to injury, poorly affixed astro-turf came off after Lewis ran wide and caught itself on the right hand side of the car, and wrecked his chance to increase his points tally from just a solitary point for finishing tenth. The main culprit- it is thought- was the lack of grip caused by the tyres due to the poor suspension.

Nail biting about tyres was also carried out towards the front of the grid, as Red Bull were praying for the chequered flag to drop after Sebastian Vettel’s tyres were on the verge of falling off the cliff; two laps later, and Vettel may not have won the race and got his twenty five points. Mark Webber nursed his tyres more carefully and managed to fend off the surprisingly rapid pace of the two Ferrari cars to come home second, and he received eighteen points. Ferrari must have stolen back their bag of magic dust, for both Alonso and Massa came home third and fourth (fifteen and twelve points) and that was due to defensive driving and careful tyre management, coupled with a good set up. Consistent Kimi Raikkönen finished fifth, earning ten more points for Lotus, and Nico Hulkenberg was very impressive yet again and finished sixth with eight points. Romain Grosjean turned over a new leaf today as he sensibly steered clear of any opening lap incidents, proving that he wasn’t a ‘nutcase’ and drove cautiously throughout to finish seventh with six points.

Following the unfortunate Hamilton pit stops and poor performance, both Toro Rosso cars scored points and demonstrated great performance in a straight line and considerable place. Jean Eric Vergne finished eighth with four points ahead of Daniel Ricciardo in ninth with two points. Hamilton scraped through, and Sergio Perez narrowly missed out catching Hamilton on the final lap, and almost crossed the finish line side by side.

So overall, apart from the tyres and bad luck of Hamilton, Sebastian Vettel did his usual and stormed off ahead of the entire grid and couldn’t be stopped until he took the chequered flag, but it was a little more risky than he would have liked, but nonetheless Red Bull have had their third consecutive win. Adrian Newey should be proud of himself for creating an effective vehicle package that looks so strong in the final part of the season, and it just might be the case that they can begin clutching those Championship trophies for a third year. That is, of course, if hey can fend of Fernando Alonso and Ferrari, for if this year is anything to go by, the scrap for first place in the Drivers’ standings could go right down to the wire in Sao Paolo in about one month’s time.

In the aftermath of the race a couple of big driver signings were made, Massa has signed on to drive for Ferrari in 2013 (that will be his 8th consecutive season with the Scuderia) whilst Hulkenburg is expected to sign for Sauber to replace Perez, Sauber are also expected to sign Esteban Gutierrez to replace Kamui Kobayashi. The final rumour is that Vettel will sign for Ferrari in 2014 and this is expected to be finalised soon.

OFFICIAL STANDINGS UPDATE

In the Driver’s Championship, Sebastian Vettel has taken first place from Fernando Alonso with 215 points, although there is only a six point margin between the two. Kimi Raikkönen remains third, but forty two points separate Alonso and Raikkönen, who has 167 points. Lewis Hamilton only gains one point to take his tally to 153 points, though just clinches on to fourth place, since Mark Webber is fifth with 152 points. Jenson Button stays sixth and keeps 131 points. Nico Rosberg adds no more points to his haul of 93 whilst Romain Grosjean has added more points, securing his eighth place and 88 points, seven ahead of Felipe Massa in ninth.

In the Constructors’ Championship, Red Bull remain first increasing their points haul to 367. Ferrari have overtook McLaren into second place, with 290 points compared with McLaren’s 284. Lotus have secured fourth place with 255 points, and Mercedes are fifth, still with 136 points. Sauber haven’t improved from 116 in sixth, Force India have 89 points in seventh. Williams stay in eigth with 58 points, and Toro Rosso have increase their points tally to 21, though remain ninth. Marussia, Caterham and HRT have yet to score.

I will be back in a fortnight as F1 returns to India for the second Grand Prix at the Buddh International Circuit, and the Championship battle draws closer to the end, but with still plenty of fighting still to be seen. Will it be Vettel? Will it be Alonso? Find out in 2 weeks time.

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