Formula One News » Korea move puts Vettel in touching distance of title Posted on 06/10/2013
While the real action was going on in his wake, the German came close to repeating his Singapore dominance, leading almost every lap and only being denied a bigger margin of victory by two safety car appearances.
Holding on to his pole position advantage off the line, Vettel was never seriously threatened over the course of the 55 laps, and was only brought back into the sights of second place when the safety car was initially called to deal with a tyre failure on Sergio Perezâ€™s McLaren. Having then pulled out another lead at the restart, the Germanâ€™s progress was halted once more when Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was taken out of the race by Adrian Sutil and the resulting conflagration surrounding his RB9 required another pace car period.
Once the fire had been dealt with and racing had resumed, Vettel was always in control, and pulled out a four-second cushion over his nearest rivals, crossing the line to claim a fourth straight 25-point haul and extend his championship lead to near-impenetrable strength.
Sadly for those hoping that the title race can be extended as far as possible, it wasnâ€™t Fernando Alonso giving chase to the Red Bull this weekend. While the Spaniard remained in the midst of a frenetic battle for fourth, Lotus came to the fore, with Romain Grosjean providing the early pressure having jumped Lewis Hamilton for second on the opening lap.
Just as the Frenchman appeared to be on course to equal his best result in the top flight, however, team-mate Kimi Raikkonen made the most of fresher rubber mid-race to catch and pass him, after Grosjean made an error. Despite being told that he was able to race his team-mate, Grosjean appeared to settle for third spot, still giving the Enstone squad a much-needed fillip.
Fourth place provided the greatest entertainment of the afternoon, with several battles taking place during the course of the race. However, it was the presence of Nico Hulkenbergâ€™s Sauber at the head of the queue that added to the excitement, the German benefiting from superior traction on the exit of corners to keep both Hamilton and Alonso and bay to the end. Not only has his 12-point haul taken the Swiss team level with Toro Rosso in the teamsâ€™ standings, Hulkenberg also gained four spots in the individual championship, moving up to eleventh overall at the expense of both Toro Rosso drivers, Adrian Sutil and Sergio Perezâ€¦
Sutil also took a starring role, admittedly as a villain, in the afternoonâ€™s pantomime, reverse T-boning Mark Webber at the first restart. While the contact was enough to end the Australianâ€™s race, it also set his RB9 alight for the second week running, this time the fire taking serious hold before it could be extinguished. However, while another safety car was required to aid in the clean-up process, the drivers were surprised to see a fire truck appear ahead of them on track, unauthorised by race controlâ€¦.
With a tyre-troubled Hamilton and Alonso filling fifth and sixth, Nico Rosberg helped Mercedes close on Ferrari in the teamsâ€™ standings by taking seventh spot from Jenson Button late on. Both drivers had front wing dramas during the race, with the Briton having to pit very early on to replace a unit that had been damaged in a first corner skirmish triggered by a spinning Felipe Massa. Rosberg, meanwhile, had his entire nose section droop while passing team-mate Hamilton mid-race, providing a dramatic spark show for the sparse crowd.
Button held on to claim another eighth place for McLaren, and was joined in the points by team-mate Perez, who recovered from his tyre drama to sandwich Massa in ninth. However, the Mexican, like a few others, remains under review by the stewards and could yet see his single point removed in the hours after the chequered flag.
There were five official retirements, with Sutil and Webber being joined by Paul di Resta, who spun out before half-distance, and both Toro Rossos, which succumbed to an overheating issue, ending Daniel Ricciardoâ€™s pursuit of points after being the only driver to tactically start on the harder medium compound tyre.