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Alonso wins treacherous Korean Grand Prix, as Bulls falter
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Alonso wins treacherous Korean Grand Prix, as Bulls falter
Posted By: James Allen  |  24 Oct 2010   |  10:46 am GMT  |  332 comments

Fernando Alonso won the Korean Grand Prix today in very difficult conditions, his first wet weather win, ahead of Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa.

It was a real game changer of a day as far as the championship is concerned, with Red Bull’s two title contenders failing to score; Mark Webber crashing out and Sebastian Vettel’s engine failing near the end. After a long fightback from being 47 points behind Webber after Silverstone, Alonso now has control of the points table.

Alonso hits the front with two races to go


Alonso leads by 11 points from Webber, with Hamilton up to third place, 21 behind the Spaniard.

So heavy was the rain at 3pm that the race started behind the safety car 10 minutes late. After three careful laps the Race Director Charlie Whiting decided to suspend the race. Fernando Alonso had radioed to say that the conditions were the worst he had ever driven in, while Jenson Button said that he couldn’t see where he was going.

After a delay of almost an hour the race was restarted behind the safety car for the 24 cars to circulate and clear water from the track. As the rain stopped Hamilton said via radio it was dry enough to race, Webber wasn’t too keen.

On lap 17 it was decided that it was safe to race and the field was released. Schumacher passed Kubica immediately for 8th, Rosberg passed Hamilton for 4th, the Mercedes looking strong at the start of proper racing.

On lap 20 Webber lost control of his car, spinning and hitting the wall, then was hit by Rosberg. Both cars were eliminated on the spot and the safety car was deployed again. It was a shame for Rosberg who looked particularly racy. Michael Schumacher had the most convincing weekend of his comeback so far with fourth place, so Rosberg could have been on the podium today.

This left Vettel leading from Alonso, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Schumacher, Kubica and Hulkenberg.

Petrov pitted for intermediate tyres on lap 21 and climbed to seventh place, running well until he crashed heavily on lap 41.

The race was restarted on lap 23. Vettel immediately opened up a two second lead over Alonso, who opened up a similar lead over Hamilton. Schumacher was pushing hard and soon went past Button for fifth place. Button was struggling at this point, three seconds a lap off the pace. He pitted on lap 28 for intermediate tyres, but rejoined behind a train of cars in P17.

Further back Timo Glock was up to P13, knowing that an 11th place would vault Virgin ahead of Lotus into 10th place in the Constructors’ Championship. With cars dropping out ahead, it could have been his, but sadly for him he was taken out by Sebastian Buemi on lap 31. This triggered another safety car. Buemi was hammered by the stewards for it, rightly, and will take a five place grid penalty in Brazil, as will Sutil.

Alonso: Four wins in last seven races (Ferrari)


It was the race’s turning point, as Vettel and Alonso stayed out, while Hamilton and the cars behind him pitted for intermediates. The two leaders pitted a lap later and Alonso lost second place to Hamilton, due to a slow change on the front right wheel. Alonso said it was his mistake, he slid on the way into the pit box.

But Hamilton was struggling on the new intermediate tyres and Alonso repassed him at the restart for second place.

Vettel led until the closing stages, but then his engine blew up spectacularly, robbing him of the chance to take the title lead. He now trails Alonso by 25 points.

Schumacher had his most convincing weekend since his comeback with a fourth place. The team made a set up change on the second grid which helped him in the conditions. Also scoring a vital sixth place was Tonio Liuzzi. This helped keep Force India 6th ahead of Williams in the Constructors’ Championship and may give his detractors in the team pause for thought, despite another unconvincing performance in qualifying.

With two races to go Alonso isn’t taking anything for granted. He has been on a strong run since July, scoring 133 points from seven races, but as Webber’s crash today shows, the new points system changes things quickly.

Alonso said that luck had been the biggest difference in his season since the mid point, where he started stringing results together.

“We’ve been competitive since Silverstone, ” he said. “We had a problem there, the car improved a lot and the team has done a fantastic job. We struggled to get on the podium at a certain part of the season, but we won more races than expected, today was luck with Webber crashing and Vettel’s engine. Finishing every race is what’s important. Next races we need to keep on the podium.”

KOREAN GRAND PRIX, Yeongam, 55 laps
1. Alonso Ferrari 2h48:20.810
2. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 14.999
3. Massa Ferrari + 30.868
4. Schumacher Mercedes + 39.688
5. Kubica Renault + 47.734
6. Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes + 53.571
7. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1:09.257
8. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:17.889
9. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari + 1:20.107
10. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 1:20.851
11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:24.146
12. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 1:29.939
13. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 1 lap
14. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
15. Yamamoto HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps

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1

I think it’s important to note that Renault hasn’t broken any engine this seasson (If I remember, I could be wrong) but RedBull has broken at least three with Sebastian Vettel. So it’s important:

a)This denotes a bad use of the engine in RedBull, and excluding an involuntary bad use, this is related to the need of his car of stress the engine to get, for example, a fast Q3. I also think that they use this feature in race, leting driver to decide when to get an extra downforce.

b)This also denotes that Vettel, in comparission with Webber, as he breaks more engines, is using this mechanism more than his teammate. This could be an explanation: he uses to be a less inteligent driver at the race than the more experienced Webber.

So I can’t say that RedBull unluck in this GP is purely a matter of luck. And this also applies for Vettel. Look at the race management of Alonso: he never goes at the same speed he can, he doesn’t need to be the quickiest all the time. This difference is evident when you see Hamilton, Vettel, they always get the car, drive the quickiest. Thats not a matter of balls, is a matter of lacks of intelligence.

2

Hi James, I have a question, why Vettel’s car were hitting the track after engine failure? it was all most by the end of the race, that means low in fuel and the car most be higher, if you look in to Alonso’s Car you can see clearly how high it is… can you tell me why those sparks … thanks

3

his engine was falling apart

4

I have been following F1 for 30 years, and for the first time ever the night before a race I had a dream/premonition about it.

It was raining at the start, but they didn’t need the safety car. Vettel and Alonso took each other out in the first third of the race, battling for the lead. The McLarens were much faster than Webber in the wet, and streaked off into the distance. But then a dry line started to emerge, and Webber caught and passed the pair of them. Button beat Hamilton to second after managing his tyres better.

Well, at least I sort of got the bit about the rain at the start right… 🙂

5

Fernando Alonso’s the luckiest driver on the grid as he won his 05 and 06 World Titles on the back of Kimi Raikkonen and Michael Schumacher engine failures. And it looks like he’ll do it again on the back of Red Bull’s failures.

6

I think you have it wrong… He won those titles because he drove better. He was conservative when he needed to be and he was able to wring every last drop of performance from his Renault when it was crucial.

To say he won because Ferrari engines blew up is ridiculous. How many engine failures did Alonso suffer in that time?

Alonso is a two time world champion because he is a fantastic talent. He drives a calculated race and does everything he can to maximize his points tally.

7

What a race! A great win for Fernando Alonso. He is a genius. If I can remember, he said at Silverstone when he was almost 2 wins behind Webber and said, “I’m going to win the World Championship”. Now with 2 races to go, he is leading the World Championship. I compare Alonso in a way to Alain Prost in that he has an unbelievable level of concentration, which is beyond most people’s comprehension.

Looking ahead to the final two races, I think McLaren will be very strong in Brazil and Abu Dhabi. You might think they will struggle in Brazil as it is similar to Korea, where it didn’t quite go as well as predicted, but I think that the low grip surface in Korea meant that braking and traction was needed more than predicted, playing into the hands of Ferrari and Red Bull more so than McLaren. In Brazil, it should have much more grip, meaning that McLaren is back in the game.

Predictions:

Brazil: 1. McLaren 2. Red Bull 3. Ferrari

Abu Dhabi: 1. McLaren 2. Ferrari 3. Red Bull

8

This prediction would win the WDC for Alonso by two points – looks like McLaren need to win both races and have a 2-3 for Red Bull in one of the races – quite a likely situation actually.

9

This was a fascinating race that will certainly confirm Alonso as champion, considering that both rival teams have indicated that they were not going to support their current lead drivers.

Barring any mechanical faults, all Alonso has to do is hang in there among the top 3 in the next 2 races. If Vettel can beat Webber in the next 2 races, and Button do the same to Hamilton they both eliminate themselves from the championship giving the win to Alonso who thoroughly deserves to win.

So please McLaren and Red Bull please stick with your decisions not to support your lead drivers and make it 3 world titles for the man called “Alonso”.

10

BBC website “Red Bull will not favour Mark Webber, says team boss”.

Do these guys actually want to win the WDC? I’m not saying Vettel should defer to cruise control, but let’s face it, if it weren’t for Massa, Alonso would only be 4 points ahead right now.

11

Yes, that’s right. RBR’s choice to back both drivers doesn’t make sense with only 2 races left. They’re gambling on Alonso not finishing well from here (bad idea!).

Granted he’s done well to get here, but in many ways, this will be a championship gifted to Alonso.

12

About RBR, nonsense.

And 4 points is plenty. At the end of the season, 1 point is plenty (see 2007 and 2008).

Fact is, Alonso’s stolen win in Germany gave him MOMENTUM. And he’s been able to build on it.

13

the unassailable truth…….

Ferrari has owned the second half of this season hands down. If RB had a half decent set of drivers these clowns would have won both titles weeks ago. Vettel is quick but his own worst enemy. Webber is a nice guy; lets just leave it at that. Mclaren – they are getting worse each race out. Since Silvertsone Ferrari (Alonso 47 pts back) is beating this pack much like my grand-dad did the rented mule we had back on the farm. Enough said !! All the whinning in the world cannot change these unassailable truths.

14

Ha! Love it…

But Webber is fast, faster than I ever thought he could be. I mean, he is legitimately challenging the “next Michael” every lap. Vettel usually gets the better of Webber, but only just so.

15

Well let’s get serious. This year has been a great F1 year. I have enjoyed it immensley. I must say that in that great big corporate world out there we always have influential people that pull the strings from the shadows. It’s just the nature of the game. No matter how much I do not care much for Briatore, he surely knows the business. Ferrari have been around the block now for some time now. Briatore was right on the money when he sated that RBR needed to back Webber. Yes I know who’s Manager he belongs to. RBR need to cover this one properly or else Alonso will snatch the silverware away from RBR. Vettel will not win this years WDC. There is only one choice. Do RBR have the balls to do it? It seems to me you are a bunch girls so far and if you don’t make the hard decision you will lose it! Good Luck! P.S I wonder what David Coulthard would be saying if he was in Mark Webber’s shoes instead of playing Devils advocate.

16

Hi James,

Why do Alonso and yourself refer to this race as Alonso’s first wet race win? What about the 2007 European GP? That too had rain and in fact so many cars literllay went flying off the circuit at the same sport, followed by a race suspension/restart?

17

First with Ferrari

18

Two things: (a) James, you must be kidding when you say in the article: ” … and then (Webber) was hit by Rosberg”. What ?? He was hit BY Rosberg, or did HE hit Rosberg ? Enough w/ the defense of a very mediocre driver.

(b) I have been saying for weeks, Webber would find a way to lose the title. How did I know it ? Simple: he’s been like that every since he steppen in an F1 car. He is simply technically deficient, and far from an all-around driver. And sure enough, look what has happened. There is absolutely NO WAY, NO WAY AT ALL, that Webber will win this WDC. NO WAY. I like him as a person, I really, really do. But his driving gaffes are beyond acceptance.

19

You’re overstating the case, I think. He made a mistake on Sunday, and my guess is that the pressure got to him just a little bit. But he’s still one of the top 6 on the grid.

And maybe it will calm him down for the next one. Sometimes it’s easier to be the hunter than the hunted (ask Jenson !) At least that way you’re always looking forward.

20

Webber has still made fewer mistakes than Alonso and Vettel this year, but has not had the benefit of a helpful team mate.

Webber is less than a 1/10th slower then Vettel, whom most people regards as very quick. QED Webber is also quick and consistently outqualified all his previous team mates.

21

View the tape, Webber was in the way, Rosberg had nowhere to go, but physically Rosberg hit Webber not the other way around.

22

Any thoughts on whether Vettel may have used his qualifying button to retard the engine on over-run and give more speed and stability in the race?

From a strategy point of view it is a calculated risk, with cool conditions and expecting only 75% race distance with 20 or so laps under the safety car.

But if this supposition is correct, the risk didn’t pay off.

23

Doubt it. In the wet the engine is less important than in the dry

24

It’s not so much the extra speed that would be beneficial, but the exhaust pressure on overrun for the blown diffuser. This would give more downforce on turn in, which I would have thought would be useful in the wet.

25

Just one small note: the new points system has nothing to do with what’s happening with the championship table positions. Following on from a previous discussion, the order at the top would be exactly the same under the old points system, and the ‘distances’ between the top players pretty much the same in terms of relative placings required to end up on top at the end of the year.

Under the old system, the points before this last race would have been: Webber (88), Vettel (84), Alonso (83), Hamilton (79) and Button (77). After Korea, the points would have been: Alonso (93), Webber (88), Hamilton (87), Vettel (84) and Button (77).

26

The new points system adds drama… A 25 point lead sounds more insurmountable than a 10 point lead.

27

Exactly – the new points system has made absolutely no difference, and that has followed through pretty much the entire course of the season with only very minor exceptions.

At the current state of play the only differences between this year and last are that Liuzzi and Petrov would have their positions reversed, in 13th and 14th places, as would de la Rosa and Buemi, in 16th and 17th. The only reason for this is because of the addition of new point-scoring positions in the minor places (9th and 10th) – the changes to the other points values is irrelevant. That was always going to be the case as the relative weighting between them has remained unchanged. All that has happened is everything is multiplied by a factor of 2.5.

I continue to be amazed that supposedly knowledgeable commentators (yourself included here now JA) keep refering to the ‘fact’ that the new points system has really kept things interesting this year. After the race even Alonso made reference to the new points system making things much more variable as far as the championship is concerned. So much for his supposed depth of intelligence and understanding – maths obviously isn’t his strong point.

The closeness of this year’s championship is entirely down to the mix of finishing results throughout the season and has absolutely nothing to do with the points system. And that IS a fact.

28

I think Alonso and other commentators are considering the change in perception relative to a specific points difference in ranking, determined by the current system.

A 25-point difference (which was huge one year ago) still seems very big, but is now surmountable in just one race. As a result, the ranking felt “more variable” than it should have been perceived as (only) factual consequence of race results.

I think that’s the point being made. It’s about perceptions, not about math.

29

Kimi did in 2007. I wouldn’t say Alonso as relentless, the first word that comes to mind is calculating after a great start to the season in his Renault he just cruised around picking up podiums taking advantage of the horrid point scoring system.

Alonso isn’t that pure racer in the mould of the Senna he races for championships, winning races doesn’t seem to matter to him if there is risk involved.

30

You think it’s better for him to fight RedBulls in a car sometimes 0.3-0.5 seconds/lap slower? How should he do this – by running on fingertips like Fred Flinstoune? Sorry guys – it’s not Ayrton’s F1 anymore – different cars, different tracks, different teams strategies. It’s not only up to Alonso what he can fight and what he can’t. Greatest fighter of ourdays – Lewis – promissed us fight before the race – did he fight anybody? Did he even try? Alonso is fighting with his mind – that’s why he is leading championship. Whe he is able to fight – he is fighting – check races when he was starting from the back of grid. You’d say he is lucky – I would say he is lucky as anybody else in Top5. He had Valencia Safety Car disaster, problems in few qualifying sessions and so on. Other guys had other problems but the are pretty much equal.

31

A great race for the viewers. Korea managed to put itself in good spotlight.

Alonso drove a classy race to take advantage of things happening around him.

Lewis too had a good race to get 3rd.

Massa had a confidence booster coming 3rd just before his home race.

Star of the show: Schumi managed to repay the team with a credible 4th place and two good moves on the current WDC and hot property in the market, Kubica.

James, could you please let me know the engine situation for the drivers or atleast the top5.

Does Alonso stand a chance with the engine situation? Guess he can take the title comfortably if he has 1 win and another 3rd place finish in the remaining two races.

32

Which engine did Alonso use today?? I think he used the SPA engine at Japan.. Did he use that again (meaning 3 races already done) or did he use the engine from Monza (this means he is going to use different engines for next two races). This is crucial because if in case he blows his engine in Brazil, he will then use the other one at Dhubai without penalty.

33

If my calculations are correct and Vettel wins both remaining races and Alonso finishes in third and fifth, Vettel would become champion only by winning more 4th places – points, wins, 2nd and 3rd places would be equal.

Good news for Alonso, if Vettel wins both races, he needs 1 3rd and 1 4th place to win championship

34

Another great result for Fernando. He played it down when asked in the press conference but inside, he really knew what it meant. That laughter on the radio on the slow-down lap said it all. But as Stefano said (as did Alonso), they have to keep their feet on the ground.

Brazil next. I expect it to suit the Bulls and Webber to bounce back, or Vettel. Fernando, if all goes well should be able to get third. And then finally to Abu Dhabi. I expect it to be very close between the Red Bulls and Alonso, maybe Alonso having the edge which if it is the case, he can win and sew up that 3rd title.

But the above is all in theory though. As we know and like today, anything can happen.

The final two races are going to be intense!

Hoping for dry weather for both weekend so they can have a fair and straight fight 🙂

35

Webber has his final engine (#8) which has only completed 1 Qual and 3 laps at race pace in the rain. Everyone else in contention for WDC will be using engines past their use-by-date. There are two hot weather races ahead, this simply could make the difference in terms of reliability and matching race pace. Anything can happen in next 2 races, however, mathematically, Red Bull needs to support Mark Webber, in order to Win WDC, assuming Alonso finishes worst case 3rd in both races, However, it is likely not to be the case that RBR or Vettel will support Webber to Win, as Vettel has shown previously, he is unconcerned about what damage he does to other racers prospects, only his own.

36

Does anybody know what’s the situation with Mark’s engine after today’s crash? Rosberg hit side/back of the car

37

Great race by Alonso but it isn’t a big surprise if you take his career upto date into acount. He’s grat at sensing any weaknesses with the drivers he has in front and knows how to make the most out of tough situations. That makes him a great driver and not a lucky one! Each top driver (or sportsman) has had different attributes if you look through history and you can’t expect any driver to be the same as the one before.

Vettel seems to be unlucky but all I sense from him everytime I watch hm drive is hot headedness. Maybe it’s due to his youth or simply something to do with his character. I just hope it’s the first option coz that means that in the future we’ll have some real entertainment for all F1 fans to enjoy. Taking to aside the fact that his personality seems to be a tad iffy, you can’t say he doesn’t entertain.

I Alonso can’t win the title, I only hope Webber wins it. I feel he’s been trated pretty badly by RBR and they’ve never shown the faith they should’ve done with the aussie driver. He’s a top driver and he’s a nice guy… Maybe for alot of people that second part doesn’t really matter, but we can’t all be the same.

All in all, it was a fantastic race once it got started. I was bored out of my skull watching that safety car go round and round at the start. But once things got going, it was like watching a race of years gone by. Only the BEST drivers can take that sort of pressure and the three guys on the posium deserve all the great press they’re getting after this Korean GP.

Hamilton had to cope with alot today in a car that just wasn’t performing. He kept it going and deserves his podium finish… He’s a great driver! He has his weaknesses which were also made evident today and that’s why he didn’t make it a win. Alonso with inferior cars knows how to juice out that extra tenth so as to take the max out of a GP. That’s the difference between the two in my opinion, without going into the obvious techinal part of their driving styles.

Great GP and I can’t wait for the last two!

Like Alonso said in the post race inteview… “RBR’s bad luck today can happen to any of us at any race, so I’m not thinking that the job’s done at all.”

Thanks James! Like always… TOP STUFF!

38

James,

I saw you say regarding McLarens suspension:-

“Well the car has become very stiffly sprung and that made it tough in the wet”

Do you mean they have made it even more stiff throughout the year, because to be honest, they have had a very stiff suspension from the first race with this years car – that is why they always struggle over the bumps.

I don’t see how that would make them so bad in the wet because the same overly stiffly sprung car won races in the wet earlier in the year and even at Spa.

Also, I think I heard that one of the reasons why they were much closer at Singapore in qualifying (a track that almost is inherently against the design of this years car), was because they managed to change their suspension and make it softer for that race.

Please elaborate on what you mean about this stiff suspension costing them at Korea and if they changed anything drastically with regard to setup, etc. I did notice Hamilton said that he was finding it hard to use the F-duct in qualifying as the car was so bad over some of the bumps.

39

One more thing regarding Vettel – it shouldn’t be only bad luck that his engine is failing but the ones in Mark’s RedBull and both Renaults – not.

40

This race was the first time I saw the circuit and it seems to be very good new circuit which is:

A)good for overtaking and has some fast sweepers to make life interesting for the drivers as well

B)not over protected. Just look at the way the cars are entering the pits(remember Estoril 1992?)and exiting it(fantastic place for a collission between someone overshooting his braking point and innocent guy leaving the pits). Fabulous!

“B” is a very useful tool. Everyone who says that Spa, Suzuka or Monaco have barriers too close to the track should look at the last corners of Yeongam. No run off at all and high speed. So, time to dig up the tarmac run off at Blanchimont and plant some trees back there…

Many were joking that this place looks like a construction site. Thanks to closer barriers here and there it was not that bad at all. Shanghai or even Istanbul park(although elevation changes make up a lot there) are worse even when finished.

The race itself… well, glad it got started finally. They should move the starting time earlier and not run for the tv money all the time. It looked really dark there.

41

A good race from the standpoint of a demonstration of great car/mind management from the top drivers and teams.

I look forward to the final two grand prix races of the season.

What I don’t understand is Christian Horner providing support for Vettel championship chances.

Like many things life we need to grab opportunity when it presents itself. Red Bull needs to have Vettel back Weber up for the championship.

If he does not it is going to be just like 1986/2007 scenario with the Williams and McLaren team.

Unbelievable they (RB management) would even think that….

42

I think the differences developing between Webber and RBR are now somewhat irreconcilable. RBR management and Webber are displaying all the physical and verbal signs of a Webber departure and an acknowledged Vettel embrace in 2011. I see a very dissatisfying departure from F1 for Mark Webber win, lose or draw in the 2010 WDC. Leaving the team that you have help develop and watch blossom will be crushing for Webber under the current circumstances. The appearance of disingenuous support for Webber and the and outward dis-trust by Webber of his superiors is a very disturbing. Deserving or not this will only end poorly for all parties.

43

Alonso won at the Nurburgring in 2007 in wet conditions. Remember the great overtaking move on Massa at the end?

44

I apologize for posting again what I’ve posted above, but I heard Alonso commenting in Spanish in the press conference after the race that this Korea GP was his first victory on a track being consistently wet from the start to the finish (also implying from the left to the right side of the track). I can then imagine that he was mentally discarding other victories under uneven wether or on dried track paths. In his previous comment in English he said merely that he was happy this was his first victory on a wet track.

45

That race was another classic. I have it in my PC and still watch it repeatedly

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