Red Bull Racing's Sebastian Vettel dominated the 2012 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix to make it a hat-trick of wins in the last three races. The German has now firmly re-established himself as the favourite to win this season's championship.
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, the championship leader going into this race, finished a distant third (13.9s behind his rival).Vettel's team mate, Mark Webber, finished second, 8.2s adrift of the winner. The afternoon was a good one for Alonso's team-mate, though; the Brazilian, Felipe Massa, moved up from sixth on the starting grid to finish fourth and gain 12 valuable points, both for himself and his team's charge to the constructors' title.
"I think we have to be happy with the performance today," Alonso explained, adding, "We are moving in the right direction. We just need a little last step to be as competitive as Red Bull."
The only real positive for Ferrari was that the Italian team overtook the McLaren-Mercedes team in the battle for the constructors' title. The Maranello team now has 290 points to the Woking-based team's 284. However, the defending champions Red Bull further stretched their lead at the top and with 367 points, are favourites to retain their title.
Meanwhile, Lotus's Kimi Raikkonen continued his fine comeback to Formula 1. The former Ferrari driver and 2007 world champion came home in fifth, retaining his qualifying position. The Finn was followed by the Sahara Force India of Nico Hulkenberg and his Lotus team mate, Romain Grosjean. The Toro Rossos of Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo came home in eighth and ninth places.
However, notable by their absence in the top places were the McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button. Hamilton, the 2008 world champion, had an excellent qualifying session (read an IBTimes UK report of Saturday's qualifying session) and started third on the grid. Unfortunately for the British driver, the race was less kind and he wound up in 10th position, taking home only one point and potentially dealing a death blow to his chances of a second world championship. Hamilton's team-mate Button had an even worse afternoon in the MP4-27, after the 2009 champion was rear-ended by Williams' Kamui Kobayashi on the opening lap.
"The start was very important. We started from the dirty side," the race winner, adding, "I had a very good launch and could see that Mark was struggling a little bit. I was able to get side by side and then had the inside into turn one." Vettel did also admit that he was worried over the condition of his tyres in the closing stages of the race.
In the drivers' championship, Vettel's third successive 25-point haul means he is now in the lead of the title race. The German has 215 points to Alonso's 209 and although there are still four races to go (India, Abu Dhabi, USA and Brazil), this sort of form should ensure Vettel too retains his title for next season.
For the latest points standings for the 2012 Formula 1 drivers' world championship, click here
For the latest points standings for the 2012 Formula 1 constructors' world championship, click here