• Ferrari’s Alonso overcomes four main rivals in rain-hit race
• Lewis Hamilton second after Mark Webber crashes out
The inaugural Korean grand prix was dominated first by rain and then by encroaching darkness, not to mention a safety car which seemed to hog the limelight for far too long. But in the end we were reflecting on another thriller, and when it was all over – three hours after its scheduled beginning – Fernando Alonso was sitting on top of the pile after a disastrous day for Red Bull.
The Spaniard’s fifth win, his third in four races and his fourth in seven, puts him ahead in the world championship, 11 points in front of Mark Webber with two to go.
“Avanti! Avanti!” he shouted. “Consistency is the key to winning the championship and we’ve done really well in the last six or seven races. The team is doing a fantastic job. This is the best race of the year for the team. But nothing has changed really. We all know the new points system. Anything can happen.”
It was also a good race for Lewis Hamilton, who revived his chances by finishing second. But it is down to four men now – Alonso, Webber, Hamilton and Sebastian Vettel. Jenson Button has not lost his crown officially, because with 50 points still up for grabs he is 42 points behind. But he know he has no chance now after a badly timed tyre change dropped him into the mid-table and he finished 12th.
While it was a great day for Ferrari, who finished first and third, and a mixed day for McLaren, it was a stinker for Red Bull. The team finished one-two in the previous race, in Japan, and looked ready to repeat that success when they qualified at the front of the grid and settled in behind the safety car for the first 17 laps today.
Hamilton, who is now 21 points behind Alonso, was desperate for the race to start after a depressing run of bad results. And when the action did come, it was well worth waiting for. But Red Bull might not agree. Webber, running second, lost control and crashed out of the race on the 19th lap and then, in the closing stages, the leader Vettel’s engine blew.
Webber said afterwards: “It was totally my fault. I got on the kerb on the exit of turn 12, and it was a very slow-motion moment off the back of that kerb. It wasn’t my day. And I collected Nico [Rosberg] as well. It was a long one; I thought I had enough to catch it. Positions are not important – the points are the most important thing. This is my second non-finish of the year. There are still two races to go, I’ll do my absolute best.”
Vettel said: “It’s obviously not a nice moment. But it was a tricky race for all of us. To be on top all the time and controlling the race, there was nothing we could have done better. We did, more or less, a perfect job. The race is still on.”
Hamilton looked cheerful. “It’s a great result and I’m very happy with it,” he said. “But we still have to make improvements for the last two races.
“Its not impossible [to catch Alonso]. We will keep pushing and keep the pressure on and as you saw today, things can happen.Ferrari and Fernando are very quick but it’s not out of reach.”