Another Formula 1 weekend has come and gone, and once again, it’s Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel taking home the top spot. Although the race may be over, our coverage on SPEED.com is not. Stay tuned for updates from the Korea International Circuit.
Alonso Rues Lack Of Ferrari Race Pace
Fernando Alonso admits that Ferrari didn’t have its usual race pace in Korea, having already realized after practice that it would be a tough weekend.
“Normally on Sunday we have a good pace, but here also on Sunday we didn’t have the performance we expected,” he said. “We saw on Friday a little bit, the long runs were not as good as other Grands Prix, and we knew that maybe the race was tough, and unfortunately we confirmed this feeling today. We were not so good at the start, in Turn 3 we lost a position to Nico, and then we were all the race behind Hulkenberg, which obviously also doesn’t help the tires. We didn’t have the pace, but hopefully in Suzuka we can come back to a better one and fight for the podium again.”
Fernando had a lucky escape on the first lap, when he was nearly hit by a spinning Felipe Massa.
“It was close, obviously we arrived there everybody attacking. Felipe lost the control a little bit, but we were able to avoid a collision. I don’t know if I had a chance to attack Nico in Turn 4, I doubt, so I don’t think the race changed too much for me. Felipe recovered some positions and arrived ninth, so it’s important for the constructors’ championship as well. As I said we need to recover form in Suzuka.”
Alonso appears resigned to the pace of Red Bull: “It’s no surprise any more, so more or less you know it’s not frustrating or surprising you on Sunday. You know this on Thursday before you arrive to the Grand Prix. The place Webber overtook me in Turn 6, you need to have another category car, because it’s impossible to do Turn 4 and 5 behind another car and be side-by-side, this is a super performance. And they deserve it, they are the best ones at the moment, they are winning everything, and we have to do better.
Hulkenberg Takes A Superb Fifth In Korea
Nico Hulkenberg was the star of the Korean GP, the Sauber driver taking a superb fourth place after holding off Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso in the closing laps.
Hulkenberg kickstarted his great afternoon by getting up to fifth on the first lap.
“We started seventh but if anything we were looking more to the rear to defend rather than attacking,” he said. “I think it was an almost perfect race for us. We put everything together, we grabbed the opportunities.
“It was tough, really tough, and long and demanding really. I couldn’t really afford any kind of mistake. It was one of these days where we weren’t really expecting that much, but when the opportunity came, we grabbed it. Good passing, the strategy worked out fine.”
Hulkenberg admitted he was worried that his tires would go off before the end of the race.
“I think the safety car helped us a bit there, both safety cars. On the other hand it brought everybody back together, and my worry at the time was that if we’d fallen off like bananas five laps to the end then I had everybody on my tail. I was worried that all the effort would be for nothing in the end. I think one of the keys today was good traction, and we had a very good top speed, which made the others not get past me.
“I’m very pleased, very happy, it’s a mega result for us, best one of the year actually. So a great team effort.”
Regarding next weekend’s race in Japan he said: “It’s a different circuit. Obviously it’s a high speed track with a lot of flowing corners. It will be difficult – don’t expect this to happen every week now! We’re going to try, but I wouldn’t expect it.”
Vettel Not Thinking About The Title Yet
It may have looked easy from the outside, but Sebastian Vettel had to work hard to lodge a fourth straight Grand Prix win in Korea.
Vettel clearly met the challenge of keeping his tires alive, but his first job was to stay in front on the first lap.
“It’s always tricky here because the way to the first corner is quite short but then you have two big straight lines,” said Vettel. “To be the first car is the worse because you have no tow. I had a good start and could focus on the first corner.
“I had a very good exit and was able to get a couple of meters between myself and Lewis and then I think Lewis was in more trouble with Romain (Grosjean) from behind into Turn Three and I obviously benefit from that and had a little bit of cushion and again for the next straight and then kept the lead – which I think was crucial. After that I tried to build a gap and keep it quite consistent. I knew that on the soft tires it will be tricky and yeah, obviously with the safety car later on it got quite busy.”
Vettel’s life was made harder by the safety car, which cost him the 5 second margin he had established.
“Kimi pitted a couple of laps before that so his tires were a little bit older but obviously took quite a long time before the safety car came back in and then there was another safety. So I think in terms of tire age it was no problem. Obviously the cars get lighter towards the end, so fortunately we didn’t have to challenge the absolute maximum out of the tires, because I think the Lotuses were probably a little bit better in terms of endurance. So, I think the speed was there and in the end obviously I tried to build up a little bit of a gap to Kimi and keep it quite consistent.”
As usual Vettel insisted that he’s not looking at the points just yet.
“I’m trying not to think about it to be honest. I’m trying to focus more on the present I think we obviously had the incredible chance, I think two years ago, to do so. We did it but I think there are still a lot of points to get, even though it looks very good for us. There’s still a chance for Fernando, I think, so we have to stay on top of our game but to be honest, I think I said on the podium, we’re just having a good time.
“We enjoy the fact that the team is working very well. The car is working… It’s on the edge to be honest, more so than you would probably think from the outside, but it’s obviously nice when you get the results like Singapore or this weekend. To be honest with you, I don’t really care. I look forward to Japan because it’s one of the nicest tracks of the whole season.”
I Should Be Fighting At The Front, Says Hamilton
Lewis Hamilton says that both he and Fernando Alonso are too good to be fighting over fifth place at the end of a Grand Prix.
Hamilton just held off his former McLaren team mate in Korea, but was unable to do anything about Nico Hulkenberg up ahead.
“It’s strange, you know,” he said. “Me and Fernando in fifth and sixth at the end, and having our own little race, we are of a higher caliber than that, we should be further ahead, and fighting with the World Champions at the front, and with Sebastian, I guess that just shows where the sport is today.”
Hamilton was clear frustrated with the way his race unfolded.
“It wasn’t that exciting for me. Going backwards and defending for a position is not so much fun, and when I was behind Grosjean at the start, that was it, there was no way to get past him. Those guys up ahead of us just had too much traction today, that’s really where I was losing out to everyone.
“The car was feeling pretty good, I was quick. If I was in the lead for example, I think I would have been able to stay there, apart from the graining phase that I went through. We were just not that quick on the straight, and things just didn’t go our way today.”
Rosberg Finishes Korean GP In Seventh
Nico Rosberg scored a seventh place finish in Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix. His team caught up with him to debrief after the race.