Pirelli are remaining conservative with their tyre choices, it's the medium and supersofts this weekend (white and red sidewalls respectively).
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: "today the right front tyre wear will play a bigger part than usual in the race as this track is very hard on it."
The expectation is a two-stop strategy will be the best. Although, the expectation was a typhoon would hit the track and that failed to appear, so who knows?
|Korean International Circuit|
|Local timezone||+09:00 GMT|
|Number of laps||55|
Vettel has seven wins to his name this season, and from pole position, he's very likely to add another to his tally. Alonso and Rosberg have two apiece, whilst Kimi and Lewis just have one.
Tyre tower, via @MyCaterhamF1.
Along with Webber's penalty, Jules Bianchi also picked up a grid drop yesterday after impeding Paul di Resta in qualifying. It was a three place drop, but the Marussia driver only had one place to lose. He starts right at the back, alongside his teammate.
Webber gets a reminder over the radio not to be too eager into the first corner, because, lest we forget, it's a long old race.
Daniel Ricciardo, starting 12th, is the only driver on the medium tyres, the entire rest of the field opting for the supersofts.
The formation lap is underway, Vettel leads the pack off the grid and weaves his way down the 1.2 kilometre straight.
The mechanics and team members jog/sprint their way back to the pit lane. I'll be honest, that's one of my favourite parts of a race Sunday.
Vettel is informed over the radio that all systems are good. That must be music to a driver's ears.
The polesitter pulls to a halt on the first grid spot, the pack slowly files in behind him.
Thermocam shows solid black tyres on Button's car, no heat at all!
Absolutely clean first corner, Vettel sprints away at the front, as Alonso comes under pressure and gets swamped.
It's Felipe Massa that comes off worse, as he gets spun as Alonso bunched everyone up. The Ferrari driver is right at the back.
Track is clear.
Grosjean has managed to squeeze ahead of Hamilton into second, but he's holding up the Mercedes. Vettel crosses the line for the second lap and he's got a 2 second lead already.
Team radio from Adrian Sutil: "Front wing damage, I'm losing downforce."
Winners on that first lap include Daniel Ricciardo who improved five places to 7th, and Pastor Maldonado who managed to climb an incredible nine places, up into the top ten.
At the back, Massa has got ahead of Chilton, who in turn lost the place gained by the penalty on Bianchi in the first lap.
Mark Webber goes round the outside of Sergio Pérez for eleventh place, and starts chasing Button. His charge starts here.
Chilton was told over the radio that both the cars are in tyre-saving mode. ALREADY?
Team radio to and from Jenson Button: "Think I've got a damaged front wing."
"There is front wing damage, we're just looking at the data, it's not a problem, let us know how the balance is."
"There's a bit of understeer."
Sutil has pitted, presumably for a new front wing, he's currently last. Button is told he'll be coming in for a nose change as well.
Tweet from @clubforce: Adrian stops to fix some damage to the front wing. A good job by our crew and he is back on track, but a big battle ahead.
Kimi Räikkönen has been fighting Daniel Ricciardo, and finally gets past the Toro Rosso to take seventh place.
Sauber's great qualifying - getting two cars into the top ten - has had a split result already. Nico Hülkenberg remains firmly in fifth place, whilst Esteban Gutiérrez has dropped down to 13th.
Replays of the start show Button's front wing damage came during Massa's incident, the McLaren clipped the back of another car as they all squeezed together.
Mark Webber sweeps past Pastor Maldonado, taking ninth place, with his replacement Daniel Ricciardo ahead of him.
Felipe Massa has pitted from the rear of the field.
|N Hülkenberg||vs.||F Alonso|
Kimi Räikkönen is closing in on that battle too, so the Hulk has some real pressure on his shoulders.
Maldonado, Di Resta and Gutiérrez all come in to the pits.
Incident involving Giedo van der Garde and Jules Bianchi under investigation - forcing another driver off the track.
Alonso has a small lock up as he continues to chase Hülkenberg, he's fighting that Ferrari through every corner, and is now under real pressure from Räikkönen.
Down the home straight, Kimi pulls alongside the Ferrari and it's a drag race down to the first corner, where the Lotus has the inside line and takes the position.
Mark Webber easily dispatched Daniel Ricciardo, so he is the driver now chasing down Alonso.
A quick pit stop for Di Resta, by @clubforce.
Drive through penalty for Giedo van der Garde - forcing another driver off the track.
Both Hamilton and Alonso come in to the pits for their first stops of the day. Alonso manages to control the car despite a snap of oversteer at the pit exit. A real handful that car today.
Grosjean pits from second, presumably reacting to Hamilton's stop. Behind him, Rosberg pits, as well as Sergio Pérez. Van der Garde comes in as well, with Jules Bianchi also taking his first stop.
Grosjean did manage to come out ahead of Hamilton, but it's oh-so-close and that Mercedes is looking at every angle for the pass.
Race leader Sebastian Vettel comes into the pits, coming back out in second, behind teammate Webber.
Grosjean gets past Ricciardo as though the Toro Rosso was a backmarker, but he's actually so high up as he hasn't stopped yet. Hamilton also passes the Australian, so the fight is still on.
Replays show Paul di Resta making a move on Sergio Pérez, but he couldn't make it stick and ends up being squeezed off track as Pérez closes the door.
Mark Webber pits for his first stop of the day, releasing Vettel back into the lead.
Turn 5 incident involving Sergio Pérez and Paul di Resta under investigation - forcing another driver off the track.
Tweet from @F1onNBCSports: Raikkonen has lost position to Alonso in the stops as Webber pits from the lead. He comes back out just behind the Finn
Bianchi's pit stop, via @Marussia_F1Team.
Daniel Ricciardo still hasn't stopped yet, he's the only runner in the entire field who has yet to visit the pit lane. Maybe he doesn't know where it is?
Fernando Alonso runs massively wide and kicks up a heap of dust, as the Ferrari driver finds himself back behind Nico Hülkenberg again, with Kimi Räikkönen following behind. It's like we've gone back in time ten minutes!
Mark Webber is closing in on the Hulk/Alo/Rai fight, making a nice train of top drivers behind that Sauber.
Daniel Ricciardo finally comes in to the pit stop, and he returns in 12th.
The Pérez/Di Resta incident will be investigated after the race.
Fernando Alonso makes a dive to pull alongside Hülkenberg but he's left it too late for this first attempt. They're close as anything as they go through the next few corners.
Team radio to Mark Webber: "Alonso's graining as cleared, expect yours to do the same."
Hülkenberg complains over the radio that his tyres aren't holding up. He's told it's too early to stop, and that it could be graining.
The other Sauber driver is also being chased by a Ferrari, Massa is told to save all his KERS boost for the last corner to try and get past Gutiérrez.
Tweet from @clubforce: Adrian is the man with the oldest tyres on track, but he is still closing in on Massa lap after lap!
Vettel passes his first backmarker of the day, as he moves past the green Caterham of Giedo van der Garde.
Meanwhile, Jenson Button comes into the pit lane, and has a slightly delayed stop which drops him down to 17th.
Replays of Button's stop show him pulling away from the stop, then stopping - checking something? Unhappy with something? - then he gets going again.
Pastor Maldonado and Paul di Resta both come in for their second stops of the day.
Button explains that as he left the pit box, the red light on the traffic light system came on, so he stopped again. It was fine though, someone either pressed the wrong button or it was resetting for the next time out.
Kimi Räikkönen comes in for his stop, it's pretty amazing that Hülkenberg hasn't given in to the pressure of all those drivers following him.
Yellow flags as Paul di Resta sits off track, alongside the tyre wall.
Replays show he takes a bit of kerb, spins it in a 180 and comes to a halt sideways in the wall. The right rear hangs off as Di Resta climbs from the car unharmed.
This is the fourth race in a row where Di Resta hasn't seen the chequered flag.
Nico Hülkenberg pits, as Webber overtakes Fernando Alonso for fifth place.
Nico Rosberg speeds up to try and overtake his teammate and suddenly there are sparks as the front wing scrapes on the track. Rosberg has the place, but he can't keep it for long!
Rosberg isn't slowing down at all, there are incredible sparks at every corner. Hamilton must be following along wondering what's going on!
Rosberg dives into the pit lane, the team wait with a new front wing but they can't get the old one off!
Hamilton gets on the radio complaining about his tyres, but they say they're a little busy with Rosberg at the moment!
Hamilton finally gets his pit stop, it's a lot smoother than the last one in the Mercedes box.
Mark Webber pits from third place, leaving Vettel, Grosjean and Pérez in the lead - all three not having stopped yet.
Sergio Pérez's right front tyre explodes!
Safety Car deployed. Heaps of debris on track, and in the car's suspension as well.
Pit stops ahoy as Vettel and Grosjean come in, plus both Caterham and Marussia drivers as well.
The marshals stand out on track with a yellow flag, as the shredded remains of Pérez's tyre lie directly on track. It'll take a while to clear that up.
This looks like a carbon copy of the problems with the tyres in Silverstone. So, without judging too soon, they've made the tyres boring as anything and haven't fixed the problem. Brilliant!
Webber has pitted again, a third time for the Red Bull.
A marshal has dashed out on track to grab the bulk of the rubber. The safety car rounds the corner and leads them slowly past the tricky section of track.
Lapped cars may now overtake.
Replays show Webber had just come out of the pits as he followed Pérez, and he narrowly missed the rubber but ran over debris and picked up a puncture - hence the extra stop.
The four backmarkers are hustling round the track, chasing the main pack. Pic leads Bianchi, then Van der Garde ahead of Chilton.
With this slow period, we're now within the range of tyres lasting to the end of the race. However, having seen Pérez's tyre explode, teams will be wary of over-extending the life of their rubber.
Safety Car in this lap.
Vettel backs the pack up for the restart, and he zips away over the line, with Räikkönen closing in on teammate Grosjean for second.
Nico Hülkenberg made a move on Lewis Hamilton, without DRS and he made the pass look easy.
Adrian Sutil spins at the hairpin and smashes into Mark Webber, pushing the Red Bull off track. Webber's car is on fire, huge flames pouring from the Red Bull.
Kimi pulls alongside his teammate and takes the position.
A rogue car, presumably the fire crew is on track! Chaos!
Safety car deployed as you can't see the track for the smoke.
Vettel spotted the truck, assumed it was the safety car and pulled up behind it, whilst the actual Safety Car was at the rear of the field. Useful.
Replays of the Sutil incident, he got his braking all wrong, the rear of the car hit the side of Red Bull - as always, Webber was in the wrong place at the wrong time.
Webber was punted off track, and looked set to rejoin but must have realised the car wasn't happy and/or on fire, so stopped in the run off.
The Red Bull is decimated, burnt to a cinder and covered in extinguisher foam. Webber gets a lift on the back of a bike as his car is winched away.
Meanwhile, Sutil comes in for a lengthy stop.
We also get a shot of Race Director, Charlie Whiting, who looks a little bit stressed.
Button is told it's a big gamble to try and stay out until the end of the race, but they're going to give it a go.
Safety Car in this lap. Thankfully there are no backmarkers to wait for, they're already at the back.
Once again, Vettel backs the pack up and dashes away, although Kimi Räikkönen makes a good job of sticking with him.
Incident involving Adrian Sutil under investigation - speeding in the pit lane. Drive through penalty.
Alonso makes a move on Hamilton, but the Mercedes takes it straight back, they're trading places through each and every corner!
Alonso got back in front briefly, but Hamilton looks to have kept it now. Alonso drops back into the clutches of Jenson Button.
Charles Pic and Jules Bianchi have both managed to get ahead of Jean-Éric Vergne, who is clearly having a terrible afternoon!
|N Hülkenberg||vs.||L Hamilton|
Felipe Massa is complaining on the radio that Sergio Pérez hit him on the restart.
After the first safety car, we pondered who would try and make it to the end. Now we've had a second slow period, you'd imagine most will try and get through the next ten laps, but not all may make it.
Four cars closed up next to each other, Maldonado holding everyone up. Massa looked set to capitalise and sweep them all, except he didn't.
Amazingly, they get tangled up again, Massa gets a second attempt, and he does it. Gaining three places in one go.
Massa is now up in tenth, the final points place.
Sergio Pérez passes Esteban Gutiérrez for 11th place.
Replays show that in amongst the chaos of those four cars battling, one of them ran wide off track. The question is, did he do it or was he pushed?
Hamilton has another go at Hülkenberg, trying to outbrake him down the straight, but he can't do it. Even down the long straight, Lewis can't make it stick.
Hülkenberg locked up at the corner, Hamilton closed up but the defensive driving from this Sauber is incredible.
Incident involving Giedo van der Garde and Max Chilton will be investigated after the race - speeding behind the Safety Car.
This time, Lewis sneaks down the inside of the Sauber and takes the position, but down the straight the Sauber has heaps of speed and regains his place!
Now Fernando Alonso draws level with the Mercedes, tries to go round the outside, dives to the inside, it's back and forth again for these two!
Alonso has dropped back again, leaving Hamilton to push on against Hülkenberg. Still no joy there though!
Grosjean's race engineer says "you're faster than Kimi, overtake him," he says he cannot. Eric Boullier gets on the radio and almost demands it. Do they not like Kimi anymore?
Turn 6 incident involving Felipe Massa and Sergio Pérez will be investigated after the race - causing a collision.
Five laps remaining. The Sauber pit wall and garage are all looking on nervously as Hülkenberg continues to defend fourth place.
Sutil has come into the pit lane again. Is that race over for the Force India crew?
Team radio from Lewis Hamilton: "Anyone got any suggestions?"
Frustration setting in for the Mercedes driver, as Hülkenberg continues to hold him up.
Nico Rosberg has a better time of it, taking a position from Jenson Button. The McLaren tries to regain the place, but Rosberg has the inside line and takes seventh place.
Daniel Ricciardo has pulled off track, race over for the Toro Rosso driver - second DNF in a row.
Vergne reported a problem with his tyres, and he's come into the pit lane to compound a terrible race.
Just two laps to go, and Lewis locks up in his continuing chase of the Sauber.
Alonso has closed up against Hamilton again, he tries round the outside but can't make it happen.
Sebastian Vettel wins the Korean Grand Prix!
Kimi Räikkönen and Romain Grosjean follow the Red Bull across the line in that order.
Crucially, Nico Hülkenberg keeps that fourth place. An absolutely incredible drive.
Tweet from @OfficialSF1Team: P4 for #Hulk. man of the race with no doubts! incredible performance of our team. #SauberIsBack #WOW!!!!!!
That double retirement of Toro Rosso on the final lap moved Caterham's Charles Pic up to 14th - just one place off the 13th that granted Marussia tenth in the championship.
|P di Resta||Spin||26|
Vettel heads to the podium green room where the two Lotus drivers are already waiting. He has a good chat with Grosjean, Kimi watches on in his usual fashion.
This victory puts Vettel within touching distance of the title - he needs a win in Japan, and Alonso to finish with minimal points.
The drivers take to the podium, Vettel raises a fist in celebration, and then it's hats off as the national anthems play out.
Tweet from @clubforce: Difficult race today. A shame as the pace was there for some big points, but it was not to be. Bouncing back in Suzuka!
The trophies are handed out, although it's sort of a celebration plate/trophy combo.
That's Vettel's eighth win of the year, then, and Kimi's seventh podium - one of which was a win. It's also Grosjean's third visit to the steps.
Podium quotes - Sebastian Vettel: "It's not great getting stuck behind the safety car. Extremely happy with the result, great job by the team, we had two very good stops. It was good to have the safety car coming out the first time, we were a couple of corners from the pit entry. Kimi and Romain were competitive the longer the stint was, I think they were more competitive with their tyres, but all in all I'm loving what I do. The team are fantastic."
Podium quotes - Kimi Räikkönen: "From the beginning, I lost one place or something. On the first lap, no actually on the first straight, then there was an accident and I gained it back. The car was understeering too much... that was really the limitation how much I could push, and obviously getting stuck behind the traffic. I tried to stop much earlier and that was a good move. The safety car helped a little bit... without the safety car we could maybe run to the end and still had a podium position. It was good but maybe not ideal."
Podium quotes - Romain Grosjean: "I think it was pretty good fun. We had a good start... I could go for the place with Lewis, he kept KERS to go through turn five and I had to defend a bit. Then after the first pit stop again, the same story. Hard job, but it was good to be close to the Red Bull. We had a good chance to catch them, but unfortunately for me the safety car came. We had to pit at the same time... I made a small mistake and Kimi could pass me... tried to push hard at the end, good to be back on the podium, good to be here."
Sorry for the two Lotus drivers being on top of each other, but boy that was a close finish!
"It's frustrating to see your car on fire," says Christian Horner. I'd say more than frustrating!
We were expecting a disappointing race, and it turned out to be a lot of fun! Vettel did take that win, and can become champion at the next, but behind him total chaos!
Nico Hülkenberg's impressive drive must be the talking point, but the tyre blowout on Pérez's car is bound to fill some column inches as well.
A dreadful race for several teams. Both Toro Rosso and Force India had double DNFs, whilst Williams finished outside the points yet again.
They'll want to imitate Sauber's turn of form, and still have five races left to do it in. The next is this time next week, as we've got back to back races taking us swiftly on to Japan.
So, I hope you'll join me next time as we enjoy all the fun from Suzuka.
All content in the series South Korea 2013
Filed under Lap by lap coverage
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