October 7th, 2013 (F1plus/Rosie Baillie).- Sebastian Vettel may have strolled off with the win but there was plenty of action to be seen elsewhere up and down the field.
As the teams are packing up and looking towards next weekends Japanese Grand Prix, lets look at how each drivers race went.
1. Sebastian Vettel - Red Bull Racing - 25 Points
The young German took his fourth consecutive win in Korea after controlling the race perfectly.
As the lights went out in Yeongnam Sebastian Vettel got away cleanly and began pulling out a gap to Lewis Hamilton instantly. The triple world champion remained in the lead for the majority of the race.
As it stands Vettel is 77 points ahead of Fernando Alonso and could win his fourth world championship in Japan should the Spaniard finish below ninth place.
2. Kimi Raikkonen - Lotus - 18 Points
After qualifying in ninth place it looked like Kimi Raikkonen was going to have a tough race. The Finn commented after the race that he had been struggling with understeer x.
As the first safety car went in Raikkonen capitalised on a mistake from teammate Romain Grosjean and passed him down the straight and held onto the place until the chequered flag.
3. Romain Grosjean - Lotus - 15 Points
The Frenchman had a brilliant start, passing Lewis Hamilton for second place on the opening lap and held on to second place until the first safety car went in.
As the safety car went in Romain Grosjean made a mistake on the restart allowing his teammate to pass him. Shortly afterwards he was heard on the team radio being reassured by the team that he could take the position back off Raikkonen.
After the race Lotus Team Principal Eric Boullier commented that Grosjean had asked the team for a team order to allow him past Raikkonen again, which they declined.
“Romain did a small mistake and Kimi just passed, Romain then begged for team order, which we didn't want to deploy.” Boullier told SkySports.
4. Nico Hulkenberg - Sauber - 12 Points
The young German was many fans driver of the race after a great start which saw him finish lap one in fifth place after starting seventh.
Nico Hulkenberg was able to keep up with the front runners and had a few fantastic battles to fend off Hamilton.
“Today I drove one of the best races in my career so far.” The German said. “A big thank you to the entire team for providing such an excellent car today.”
5. Lewis Hamilton - Mercedes - 10 Points
The Brit lost a place on the opening lap after a good start from Grosjean.
Much to his frustration he spent most of the race looking at the back of Hulkenberg’s Sauber and was even heard asking the team whether they had any suggestions.
“Has anyone got any suggestions?” Hamilton asked the team towards the end of the race.
On his second stint Hamilton had tyre troubles which meant his racing was suffering as a result.
“In my second stint, running the prime tyre, my right front was just destroyed all of a sudden. When that happens, you start losing temperature, understeering and locking up under braking, so it was really hard to maintain the pace in those laps.” Hamilton said.
6. Fernando Alonso - Ferrari - 8 Points
The Spaniard was unable to close the points gap to main title rival Vettel and failed to finish ahead of him as he’d hoped to.
Hulkenberg’s speed meant Fernando Alonso was just unable to keep the Sauber driver behind him.
Unfortunately, at the start, I couldn’t keep the Sauber behind me and that meant I had a particularly stressful race in terms of the tyres.” said Alonso.
With a 77 points gap to Vettel, he suggested that he wasn’t expecting to be able to close the gap but wasn’t giving up either.
“Vettel is a very long way off in terms of points, but above all in performance
terms and we cannot expect miracles between now and the end of the championship. Second place in the Constructors’ championship is probably a more realistic target, but one thing’s certain, we are not giving up now and we will give it our best shot right to the very end”.
7. Nico Rosberg - Mercedes - 6 Points
Up until lap 28 the German was having a strong race, spending most of it in fourth and fifth place.
On lap 28 his nose failed causing it to drag along the floor and produce an impressive display of sparks.
“That was another very tough race for me. I couldn’t believe what happened with the wing: I was on course for a podium finish after overtaking Lewis and two seconds later, the front wing just broke.” He said.
Two safety cars helped Rosberg close up the gap after a long pit stop for a new nose and finished in seventh place.
8. Jenson Button - McLaren - 4 Points
The Brit had a fairly quiet race after pitting early in the race for a new nose after contact on the opening lap and also pitted for medium tyres.
The decision to pit didn’t hamper his race too much as it was quickly clear that the medium tyres were much faster than the supersofts.
9. Felipe Massa - Ferrari - 2 Points
The Brazilian’s race didn’t get off to a great start after locking up into Turn 1, very nearly making contact with teammate Alonso.
After the race he explained how the incident had happened.
“I decided to go down the inside to try and brake later. Unfortunately, some of the cars were slower and in order to avoid driving into one of the Mercedes, I was forced to move over to the right, ending up in a spin.” Massa said.
The incident sent him to the back of the pack and meant he had his work cut out for him as he tried to work his way up the grid.
Towards the end of the race we saw some great battles in the midfield as Massa worked his way up into the points.
10. Sergio Perez - McLaren - 1 Point
A double points finish for McLaren with Sergio Perez finishing just inside the points in Korea.
On lap 31 the Mexican suffered a right front tyre failure which brought out the first safety car. He was able to make it back to the pits safely and pitted for a new tyres and a new front wing.
Despite dropping back under the safety car he was still able to salvage his race and finish with one point.
11. Esteban Gutierrez - Sauber
The Mexican equalled his highest finish in Korea bringing his Sauber home in 11th place.
“It’s a great experience and will help me to improve my race craft. We had good pace today and
are definitely able to fight in the top ten.” Gutierrez said.
A strong display from both Sauber drivers has put the team in a positive mood.
“all in all it is a great step ahead for the entire team and shows we are working well together at home in Hinwil and on the track.” Team Principal Monisha Kaltenborn said.
12. Valtteri Bottas - Williams
The Finn had an unlucky start after being caught behind Massa’s car and lost a couple of places as a result.
He commented that he struggled during the first stint on the supersoft tyres and had better luck on the medium tyre.
“the pace improved a lot in the second stint on the mediums and the safety cars allowed me to close in on the top ten.” Bottas said.
“I think 12th was a fair result as the cars that finished ahead of us had better pace all weekend.”
13. Pastor Maldonado - Williams
The Venezuelan benefitted from Massa’s spin going into Turn 1 as he was able to make up positions as other drivers went off the track.
Unfortunately two safety car periods meant Pastor Maldonado was unable to hold onto his points finish as his rivals were allowed to close the gap to him.
“I tried to maintain my position in the top ten but the safety cars hindered my race today as the cars behind were able to keep closing up behind me, and after the second restart they just had too much pace and were able to overtake.”
14. Charles Pic - Caterham
A great race for Charles Pic who finished ahead of his teammate and both Marussia drivers.
Caterham are currently vying for 10th in the constructors championship which they can take from Marussia by finishing one race 13th or above, so it was a case of so close yet so far for Caterham in Korea.
“I got the car to the flag in 14th which is a decent result for us – not quite where we want to be but almost” Pic said.
15. Giedo van der Garde - Caterham
The Dutchman had a fantastic start getting up to 15th place by the end of lap one.
Unfortunately his hard work was undone by a drive through penalty for forcing Marussia’s Jules Bianchi off track.
“Without the drive through I’m sure I could have finished higher, maybe not up
in 13th, but close and while that’s obviously frustrating today, it shows how close it’s getting and that’s good for my motivation and the whole team.” said Giedo van der Garde.
16. Jules Bianchi - Marussia
The Marussia driver was hoping to have a good fight with the Caterham drivers in Korea but was unable to as he had to focus on tyre management.
“It wasn’t too long before we had to focus our efforts on tyre management and the first two stints were pretty tough as we were not able to push.” The Frenchman, 24, said.
In the third stint he was able to push more and try to pass the Caterhams but still struggled to catch them.
17. Max Chilton - Marussia
The Brit echoed his teammates comments about tyre management and also said the race pace wasn’t quite what he expected.
“I think we were lacking a little in terms of our expected race pace but also we were unable to really push because of the need to manage our way through each stint with the tyres” Chilton said.
Pace and tyre issues aside Chilton still felt the race went well.
“Overall, a good Team result today as we achieved the right outcome for our bigger picture.”
DNF - Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo - Toro Rosso
Both drivers were told to retire with Daniel Ricciardo pulling onto the grass and Jean-Eric Vergne pulling into the pits to retire.
After the race the team revealed that a mechanical part in both cars had failed causing it to overheat.
Daniel Ricciardo was the only driver to start the race on the medium tyres, which worked well for the Australian who had a good first stint. While he struggled throughout the rest of the race he was still on for a points finish before he retired.
“for myself and the team it’s frustrating to get no reward. Now all we can do is look ahead to Suzuka.” Ricciardo said.
Teammate Jean-Eric Vergne hadn’t been having such a great race after starting in 16th.
“Starting from sixteenth, this was always going to be a difficult weekend and after I made up a few places in the early stages, I began to suffer with tyre degradation,” Vergne said.
DNF - Adrian Sutil - Force India
The first corner melee caused by Massa’s spin resulted in a damaged front wing for German driver Adrian Sutil.
“I was quite unlucky on the first lap because after Massa spun everybody headed for the inside and somebody hit me on the side of my front wing. The damage was not too bad but I still had to pit for a new one.” Sutil said.
On lap 36 Sutil made contact with Mark Webber, ending the Australian’s race. On lap 51 the German came into the pits to retire.
“I hit Webber so I apologise for ending his race. It’s a disappointing end to the race because I believe there was still a chance of a point.”
DNF - Mark Webber - Red Bull Racing
The Australian was having quite a good race up until lap 36 when a collision with Sutil forced him off track and his car burst into flames.
“There was quite a lot of damage at the back of the car and I hope it hasn't gone towards the chassis – we will have to see before the next race.” Webber said.
Before the incident with Sutil Webber had worked his way back into the points after an unscheduled tyre change due to a puncture caused by the debris of Perez’s tyre failure. He felt he’d driven well so far and had done well to get back into the points.
“Before that I was very happy with how I drove and we’d got back to a very good position before I got the puncture.”
DNF - Paul di Resta - Force India
His fourth retirement of the season came after he got on to the curbs at Turn 12 and spun off the circuit.
“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. The way we’ve set the car up means it has been quite edgy and difficult to drive, and that’s what has caught me out today, although whether it has cost us points is hard to say.” The Scot said.