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Korean Grand Prix Preview: Drivers Still Have Plenty Left to Fight for

James BoltonContributor IIOctober 13, 2011

Fernando won in 2010
Fernando won in 2010Paul Gilham/Getty Images

There has only been one Korean Grand Prix so far, but Round 17 of 19 in last year's race was hugely eventful.

Going into the race, the top three drivers in the championship were separated by just 14 points. There was huge excitement, as it was clear the race would be pivotal in determining the destiny of the championship.

Torrential rain threw a joker into the mix, and the race was stopped after three laps. It wasn’t until 40 minutes later that it resumed, with the safety car leading the cars around for another 14 laps.

Mark Webber, the championship leader, crashed out in the pouring rain on Lap 18. Sebastian Vettel then had the race under control before he was forced to retire with an engine failure. Fernando Alonso came through to win, over Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa—still the Brazilian’s most recent podium.

The late start time, the 40-minute delay and the slow pace of the race meant the sun was setting as the race finished, and the podium ceremony took place in the dark.

This season, the weather forecast is for bright sunshine, so we should see a more normal race.

The championship is over, with Vettel wrapping it up at Suzuka last weekend, so the race should have a slightly end-of-term feel to it.

This doesn’t mean the drivers will be relaxing, though.

Webber is desperate to win a race this year, and Alonso is very keen to add to his Silverstone victory. Hamilton will want a win to try to erase some of the painful memories he has of the 2011 season, and he also faces the prospect of finishing behind his teammate in the championship for the first time in Formula One.

For these drivers, Korea represents another chance to win an F1 race, and they will be just as committed as ever, perhaps even more so because they don’t have to worry about collecting championship points.

At Renault, the fight for a 2012 seat is becoming particularly tense.

Bruno Senna has to impress, Vitaly Petrov apparently has a contract and Romain Grosjean is attending the races and looking over their shoulders. They could be fighting for just one seat if Robert Kubica is able to return to Grand Prix racing in March. These next four races will be crucial for the team as they make their choice.

The Sauber and Force India battle for sixth is worth keeping an eye on, and both teams hope to be fighting Renault on the track, if not in the championship standings.

The Mercedes team also provides an interesting focus, as Michael Schumacher and Nico Rosberg continue their battle.

Three points separate the drivers, with Nico ahead, but Schumacher is arguably the more impressive driver at the moment and will be hoping to take more points than Nico in the remaining races to attempt to establish some seniority within the team ahead of 2012.

There is plenty to fight for at this weekend’s Grand Prix, and the season is certainly not over yet.

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