While Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull had the perfect day at the Korean Grand Prix, Lewis Hamilton and McLaren bade farewell to the last, faint hope of securing the 2012 world championship.
Vettel took the lead at the first corner and was never headed or troubled as he controlled the race from start to finish—despite some excessive consternation about tyre wear towards the end of the race.
His teammate, Mark Webber, drove a solid race to secure an easy second place.
More importantly, Vettel has seized the lead in the championship and has installed himself as favourite to claim his third successive title.
Lewis Hamilton, by contrast, had as bad a day as possible while still managing to secure a championship point.
After breaking an anti-roll bar (possibly in a first-lap incident where he appeared to make contact with Kimi Raikkonen on the run to Turn 3), Hamilton struggled to maintain contact with the leaders as tyre wear and handling problems took their toll on the only McLaren to survive the first lap.
As a somewhat humorous metaphor for McLaren’s day, Hamilton ended up trailing an enormous errant piece of Astro Turf around for the last five laps of the race.
Hamilton is now languishing 62 points off the championship lead and, with only four races remaining, must now be turning his attention to next year with Mercedes.
At least today’s race will give him an idea of what every race will be like in his new team!
While Hamilton had his woes and Vettel claimed the glory, Fernando Alonso had an indifferent day during which he wasn’t challenged, but nor did he have any chance of making inroads into the lead of the Red Bull duo.
After an exciting start in which he challenged Webber for second place, Alonso settled into the third spot and then drove the rest of the race in comparative isolation, not able to catch Webber and with Felipe Massa behind, not allowed to challenge him.
Surprisingly, a resurgent Massa looked set to challenge Alonso for the final podium spot—until the message came from the pit wall that Felipe should maintain a three-second gap for reasons that aren’t immediately apparent.
Unless Ferrari have some major upgrades to bring to the party, Red Bull look to have gained the ascendancy and, barring disaster, are in the driver’s seat to claim the 2012 championship—pun intended.
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