Alonso takes win and championship lead
Fernando Alonso has made the best of a difficult race that started in extremely difficult conditions. Alonso ran faultless, and profited from both Red Bull's not finishing to take the championship lead. Lewis Hamilton came in second, with Massa securing a great result for Ferrari in 3rd place.
Even before the start, the first ever South Korean GP promises to be a mighty interesting event. If the dusty track would not have been tricky enough, rain fell during the morning, and half an hour ahead of the start, drivers looked set to start the race on intermediate tyres to copy with the damp track.
5 minutes later though, rain started to fall again and didn't stop before the start of the race. As a result, the FIA announced to delay the start by 10 minutes to evaluate the situation first, and minutes later decided the race would start behind the safety car.
10 minutes later than scheduled, the cars are off the line behind the SC, starting the race immediately and not making a warm-up lap. It also looks like all drivers have taken the decision to start on full wets, and considering the first lap that appears to be the right decision.
There is a lot of standing water on the track in these first few laps. Several drivers are on the radio early on through the first laps to let their teams know the trickiness of the track. Fernando Alonso said "these are the worst track conditions I have ever raced in. I have no idea where Webber is [due to the spray]".
On the third lap, 8 minutes into the "race", the race is red flagged as the current lapping just had no use.
The problem here isn't really the heavy rain, as it is just a drizzle, but the freshness of the tarmac here keeps the water standing on the track, rather than flow away through the grooves in the track surface.
Meanwhile the marshalls are trying their best to clean the track a little bit by wiping it intot he grass.
After some walks and interviews, and some car adjustements on the grid, the race is announced to be restarted at 16:05, 55 minutes behind the original schedule.
The race gets underway again behind the safety car, with the use of full wets obliged by the FIA. Drivers are saying the situation is slightly better than before, but still not reat for an actual race.
After a single lap behind the SC, Lucas Di Grassi is in the pitlane to switch his full wets for another set of full wets. Might have been a test to see how wet the pitlane is.
On lap 14 Di Grassi does the same, with still all cars rolling around behind the safety car. The track appears to have dried up considerably on the racing line, and finally by lap 17 the safety car's deperature from the track is announced.
In the first few turns of the actual race, Rosberg takes Hamilton for P4 while Schumacher also moved up, first passing Kubica and 2 turns later already right behind Button.
On lap 19, after 2 racing laps, Vettel leads Webber by 2.2 seconds already. Schumacher meanwhile passed Button on the pit straight.
Halfway through that lap, Webber is wide on the exit of turn 12. He spun into the wall, back over the track and took Nico Rosberg out of the race with him. The safety car is out again, and Petrov and both Saubers all make a pitstop and change to intermediates. They obviously believe there is some potential.
The safety car is a pretty bad event for Vettel as he had pulled a considerable gap on the others already, especially after Webber's shunt.
On lap 23 the safety car leaves the track again and lap 24 marks a race restart. Vettel again gives it all and goes of the kerb on the final corner to make sure he retains first place. After S1, Alonso is already more than a second behind. Vettels time on lap 24 is 1:54.438.
At turn 10 meanwhile there is debris on the track after Trulli got into contact with an HRT. No safety car needed this time though, as the yellow flag situation is cleared after one lap. Trulli got into the pitbox but later rejoined the track.
On lap 27 Di Grassi is off into the barriers after trying an impossible overtaking on an HRT. Michael Schumacher on the other hand is doing well and gained a position on Button on the longest straight.
Button is struggling badly, and Hulkenberg, Kubica and Barrichello are as well closely behind them. On lap 29 Button is the first of the championship contenders to change to intermediates. Same goes for Sutil.
Button rejoins the track right behind a pack of 5 cars, led by Glock. Button apparently had no other possibility as his wet weather tyres were completely worn off. More rain is expect though so it remains to be seen if the inters are the right choice.
Hulkenberg makes the change on lap 31 as well. That same lap Buemi is out of the race as he bumped into Glock after trying an overtake. This triggers another safety car, with many drivers diving into the pitlane for intermediate tyres.
Vettel and Alonso though stayed out initially, but one lap later they both also change for inters. Alonso's stop was a bit problematic tough as the right front didn't get on well. This results in the top three being Vettel, Hamilton and Alonso. Massa is fourth, followed by Schumacher, Barrichello, Petrov and Hulkenberg.
Robert Kubica meanwhile had an intense moment in the pitlane. First he was being held in the pitlane as there was too much traffic for a safe release, and when eventually he got released, Sutil dived into his pitbox right in front of the Pole's nose. That could have been a repeat of their pitlane accident earlier this year.
On lap 35, the racing is on again, and Alonso immediately passed Hamilton after the latter got too deep into turn 1. It's a good move for Alonso though as he appears to be quicker than Hamilton at each single moment in this race.
Button on the other hand is trying to fight his way back into the title race but is jamed in a pack of cars. Adrian Sutil attempted a pass on him and it was actually a great job to avoid an accident. He dropped two places but at least he's still in the race.
By lap 38 Alonso appears to have found a good rythm and can start to keep up with the leader.
One lap later Sutil is off the track again at the end of the back straight, and one lap later he out-braked himself at turn 1 as well.
At the start of lap 40, Vettel has 2.3 seconds on hand on Alonso. Hamilton is another 1.8s further down. Jenson Button is now down in 15th place and gets out of shape for the championship.
Another lap later Petrov goes off the track and heavily into the barriers after spinning off in the final turn. It looks like his rear wheels spun on the white line of the pitlane inthe midle of the track. The Russian spun and went into the tyre barriers stewards.
On lap 43 Yamamoto delays Vettel bit more than he does the others, allowing Alonso to get the gap down to 1 seconds. One lap later Vettel responded with a personal best and simultaneously starts to complain about visibility. Lewis Hamilton meanwhile is still very happy about the light.
On lap 46 Vettel sees the end of his race as a big white smoke plume exits from his car. The Renault engine failed the German after being simply brilliant all weekend.
Adrian Sutil meanwhile is out of the race as well as he managed to make another failed passing attempt on a Sauber. He lost control of his car under braking, hit Kobayashi and broke his front suspension. Kobayashi is actually lucky to still be able to continue.
3 laps from the end Hulkenberg is in the pits to take on a new set of inters after struggling to keep his car on the road. Kubica therefore moves up to 6th. Half a lap later the Renault driver gains another place as Barrichello is in the grass as well.
Hamilton appears to be struggling as well while Alonso keeps driving quickly, now 2s a lap quicker than the first McLaren. In the penultimate lap, Alonso therefore has a 20s lead over Hamilton.
Alguersuari then finds himself in the grass as well, allowing Hulkenberg to appear right behind him.
Alonso didn't come under any threat at the end, he preserved his tyres well and takes the lead of the championship.
|2||2||Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||55||+14.9 secs||4||18|
|3||7||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||55||+30.8 secs||6||15|
|4||3||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes GP||55||+39.6 secs||9||12|
|5||11||Robert Kubica||Renault||55||+47.7 secs||8||10|
|6||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||55||+53.5 secs||17||8|
|7||9||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||55||+69.2 secs||10||6|
|8||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||55||+77.8 secs||12||4|
|9||22||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||55||+80.1 secs||13||2|
|10||10||Nico Hulkenberg||Williams-Cosworth||55||+80.8 secs||11||1|
|11||17||Jaime Alguersuari||STR-Ferrari||55||+84.1 secs||15|
|12||1||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||55||+89.9 secs||7|
|13||19||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Cosworth||54||+1 Lap||21|
|14||21||Bruno Senna||HRT-Cosworth||53||+2 Laps||24|
|15||20||Sakon Yamamoto||HRT-Cosworth||53||+2 Laps||23|
|Ret||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||46||+9 Laps||14|
|Ret||5||Sebastian Vettel (Pole)||RBR-Renault||45||+10 Laps||1|
|Ret||12||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||39||+16 Laps||20|
|Ret||24||Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||31||+24 Laps||19|
|Ret||16||Sebastien Buemi||STR-Ferrari||30||+25 Laps||16|
|Ret||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||25||+30 Laps||22|
|Ret||18||Jarno Trulli||Lotus-Cosworth||25||+30 Laps||18|
|Ret||6||Mark Webber||RBR-Renault||18||+37 Laps||2|
|Ret||4||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes GP||18||+37 Laps||5|