After enduring a build-up reminiscent of the recently concluded CommonWealth Games in Delhi, the Korean GP looks set for another high-octane battle to the chequered flag. With four of the five drivers vying for the Drivers Championship making up the top two rows, the newly laid Korea International Circuit can expect a stern first test, and a lot of burning rubber!
Earlier, in qualifying, Sebastian Vettel led a Red Bull one-two for the fourth time this season with just 0.074 seconds separating the German and his teammate, and championship leader, Mark Webber. With just 14 points separating the two, one can expect a mini-contest up-front, only to the delight of Red Bull Racing.
Making up the second row are the not-so-friendly couple of Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Alonso held P1 as the chequered flag fell, only to be denied by a late dash from the Red Bulls. Former World Champion Lewis Hamilton, 28 points adrift in the standings, too will be desperate for success.
Hamilton’s McLaren teammate Jenson Button faces an uphill task of keeping up with the top four, with the Brit finishing seventh in qualifying.
Red Bull Racing, who sit pretty at the top of the Constructors Championship, will be favourites to take away 43 points from this race. However, with Alonso and Vettel tied on 206 points each, it will be interesting to see what tactics Red Bull employ.
Ferrari have problems of their own, with Fernando Alonso set to face a penalty if his engine fails. A driver is allowed a maximum of eight engines throughout the racing season, a figure which Alonso reached a few races ago. Ferrari have been eking out the mileage from previously used engines in the hope that Alonso can survive till Abu Dhabi. A cautious approach is thus expected.
This leaves the door wide open for the McLarens to push their way up. Hamilton, who has been atrocious in the last few races, with a win at Spa and a fifth-place finish at Japan in that span, will be eager to improve his current fourth place standing in the Drivers Championship. Button too, will not be willing to give up on his crown yet.
So, we’re in for a cracker on race day, with all the pressure lying on the two Red Bulls. The new, and hotly debated track will be under a lot of scrutiny, what with Bridgestone predicting high tyre degradation thanks to all the dust around the circuit. The weather forecasters have added to the drama, predicting rain at some stage. The inaugural Korean Grand Prix sure promises to live up to all the hype.
( This article was first published on http://www.isport.in )