Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso wins Korean Grand Prix
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso survived an incident-packed, rain-affected race to win the inaugural Korean Grand Prix and move top of the championship as Red Bull suffered a double DNF.
Lewis Hamilton finished second for McLaren to keep his championship chances alive, while Felipe Massa took third for Ferrari as nine drivers failed to complete the race.
Surface water caused trouble for the drivers on their way to the grid and Race Control opted to delay the start by ten minutes behind the safety car.
But the race was red-flagged just three laps in as rain continued to fall and drivers complained of impossible conditions.
With the cars lined up on the grid, the race was delayed for an hour before restarting under safety car conditions. The cars were then finally released on lap 18.
Mercedes’ Nico Rosberg was the first driver to make a charge, passing Hamilton for fourth before being collected by Mark Webber, who ran wide at turn 12 before spinning twice across the track and taking both drivers out of the race.
It proved to be a mixed day for McLaren after Jenson Button pitted for intermediate tyres on lap 28, but emerged down in 16th, only for a safety car deployment to compound Button’s problems as rivals took the opportunity to pit.
A 27-second pit stop for Alonso, the result of a problem with a wheel nut, briefly allowed Hamilton to get into second on lap 32, but he ran wide into turn one following the restart to hand the place back to the Spaniard.
Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton held position and traded fastest laps in the fading light until the Renault V8 engine in Vettel’s Red Bull gave up just ten laps before the chequered flag, sending plumes of smoke billowing across the track.
The breakdown handed Alonso the lead, where he stayed unchallenged to the end of the race as Hamilton’s intermediate tyres dropped off.
Alonso has now won three of the last four races and leads the world championship with 231 points ahead of Webber’s 220. Hamilton is a further ten behind and Vettel still on 206, with just 50 points available in the final two races.
Red Bull’s first double DNF of the season sees them stay on 426 while McLaren close the gap to just 27 on 399. Ferrari are now an outside contender for the constructors’ championship with 374.
Speaking after the race, Alonso said: “I know that to win the championship means to be consistent and finish on the podiums, which is what we have been trying to do.”
Formula 1 moves on to the penultimate race of the season in two weeks’ time in Brazil.