Sunday, October 23, 2011

Vettel Blitzes Hamilton to Win Korean Grand Prix

Photo Credit: Nissan/Infiniti

After a wet and wild debut in Korea, the Formula 1 cars returns to the track for the fourth-to-last event in the 2011 schedule. Just completed in time last season, the Korean International Circuit narrow setup leaves little margin for driving error during an event highlighted by a race collision between Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg in 2010. A matured race track, the Korean Grand Prix assembles to run the 5.615 kilometer course learning only wet weather racing setups. While sunny skies were predicted prior to the event, the 2011 edition of the Korean Grand Prix would instantly reminds drivers and teams of the 2010 race as light raindrops sprinkled the track vicinity. Though a concern for Formula 1 teams all starting on dry weather slick tires, never would the precipitations extend beyond sprinkles.

In qualifying, the Red Bull Racing team met the wrath of McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton at the Korean International Circuit. Finally breaking Red Bull Racing's season's sweep of the pole position, Hamilton is well within the tight second place battle in the world championship points. Hoping to use the Korean Grand Prix as a chance to move closer to teammate Jenson Button currently in possession of the runner-up position in the Formula 1 driver points, the start of the race saw Hamilton taking a small advantage over Sebastian Vettel into the first corner. Immediately however, the Red Bull-Renault of Vettel stalked the McLaren-Mercedes and would take the lead over the completion of lap one. Drawing out a 1-second gap away from Lewis Hamilton, Vettel was able to resist a challenge from the Mercedes-engined race car with the assistance of the drag reduction system on the rear wing.

Deeper in the field at lap 14, there is a heated fight between the Mercedes GP car of Nico Rosberg and the McLaren-Mercedes of Jenson Button. On pit stops, the Mercedes GP launched Rosberg out ahead of Button's car but lost the position on the pit road exit into turn 1. Later in the lap, Rosberg determinedly reclaimed the place in the Formula 1 running order by passing Button's McLaren-Mercedes. Triumphant briefly, once the DRS system was enabled for Jenson Button on lap 16, Rosberg would fall prey to the McLaren driver into turn three. While looking like Nico Rosberg was in position for a good result after an unfortunate end in the 2010 Korean Grand Prix, his Mercedes GP car wandered home to 8th place. Indications suggested that Nico Rosberg was saving the fuel required for post-race testing late costing himself and the team several spots.

Photo Credit: Mercedes GP

While one Mercedes GP car needed to conserve fuel to the end of the 2011 Korean Grand Prix, the team's second car driven by Michael Schumacher incurred a more dramatic end in the race. On lap 17, Schumacher was impacted into the third corner by the Lotus Renault GP car of Vitaly Petrov. Resulting when Petrov was drag racing Ferrari's Fernando Alonso down the long straightaway, the pair's attempt to outbrake each other into the corner resulted in a fast closing rate on the Mercedes GP. With Vitaly Petrov focused on the battle with Alonso, he slammed into the rear corner of Michael Schumacher causing a crash requiring a safety car on track. Both Schumacher and Petrov were out of the event while Fernando Alonso narrowly avoid damage.

Once the safety car period concluded on lap 20, Sebastian Vettel quickly rebuilt has race lead. By lap 44, the Red Bull-Renault held an 11-second on-track advantage on Lewis Hamilton. A tight 2nd through 4th place fight near the end of the Korean Grand Prix, the McLaren-Mercedes of second place Hamilton and fourth place Jenson Button had the other Red Bull Racing vehicle driven by Mark Webber sandwiched for position. Late in the race, the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso attempted to set a challenge against the rather stagnant 2nd to 4th place position battle. Alonso spent a great deal of time behind his teammate's Ferrari of Felipe Massa. Unable to pass Massa but being held up on the Korean International Circuit, Alonso was pitted and able to claim a spot ahead and quickly surged, making up ground on track. Closing to within 1.8 seconds of Jenson Button on the 49th lap, Fernando Alonso appeared to have enough speed to enter the 1-second DRS interval. While prospects of Alonso fighting for a podium position was real within final 5 laps, his Ferrari was unable to retrieve the competitors for any improvements on a 5th place spot.

Crossing the start/finish line over 55 laps, Sebastian Vettel took his 10th Formula 1 series victory for 2011. With Vettel's teammate Mark Webber taking the third and final podium position, Red Bull Racing were able to celebrate the lucrative manufacturers championship for the 2011 season over McLaren. Lewis Hamilton for McLaren joined the Red Bull Racing drivers on the podium in 2nd place.

With a Formula 1 championship recently clinched, Sebastian Vettel's tear on the 2011 grand prix could be magnified by the fact he now try even harder to add to his season's win total. Having now won 10 races with 3 races remaining, Vettel is mathematically capable of tying Michael Schumacher as the most winningest driver in a Formula 1 season.


2011 Formula 1
Korean Grand Prix
Race Results
  1. 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing
  2. 3 Lewis Hamilton McLaren
  3. 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing
  4. 4 Jenson Button McLaren
  5. 5 Fernando Alonso Ferrari
  6. 6 Felipe Massa Ferrari
  7. 19 Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso
  8. 8 Nico Rosberg Mercedes GP
  9. 18 Sebastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso
  10. 15 Paul di Resta Force India
  11. 14 Adrian Sutil Force India
  12. 11 Rubens Barrichello Williams F1
  13. 9 Bruno Senna Lotus Renault GP
  14. 21 Heikki Kovalainen Team Lotus
  15. 16 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber
  16. 17 Sergio Perez Sauber
  17. 20 Jarno Trulli Team Lotus
  18. 24 Timo Glock Marussia Virgin Racing
  19. 22 Daniel Ricciardo HRT F1
  20. 25 Jérôme D’Ambrosio Marussia Virgin Racing
  21. 23 Vitantonio Liuzzi HRT F1
  22. 12 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1
  23. 10 Vitaly Petrov Lotus Renault GP
  24. 7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes GP

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