Sunday, 24 October 2010

Korea GP Report: Fred cleans up as others fumble

Turns out those who set their alarms were rewarded, eventually. After well over an hour of false starts and touring behind the safety car (occasionally enlivened by driver politicking via their radios), what do you know, once the Korea race got under way proper it turns out to be a great one.

Fred took P1, and all of a sudden he looks to be in a strong position leading the championship table, with but two races left. Everyone laughed when mid-season he told all he would win the world championship this year, but now the only one laughing is Fred himself, as he gave us a demonstration of via the radio having taken the flag.

Yes, Fred took advantage of Red Bull fumbles to take the win, but there's always been an art to staying out of trouble to win races, particularly in these conditions, and Fred put them to full use today. He was never far behind the Bulls in any case.

The Korea race, not for the first time, seemed to sum up Red Bull's season in extremis, converting 1-2 on the grid to nil points at the business end. Seb, to be fair to him, drove beautifully at the front and always looked quick and in full control, only for his car to let him down with nine laps left. It was beyond cruel, and having looked since Belgium that he had all the momentum (I was thinking he was favourite for the title) things have now become much more tricky. He probably needs a DNF from Alonso in the remaining races to have a chance to be champion this year.

Webber, meanwhile, crashed out early after running wide (taking the blameless Rosberg with him) and is now second in the table, 11 points behind Alonso. He may not be the only one who may look back on the Korean race ruefully come the final reckoning. Nevertheless, if he finishes ahead of Alonso in the last two races he'll probably be world champion, and he still has fundamentally the fastest car out there.

McLaren had a mixed time of it. Lewis, having champed at the bit to get the race started, 
drove impressively to come in second, and is just about clinging to title contention. Button, usually such a master in these conditions, struggled with his car throughout (indeed, even in dry conditions on Saturday he looked like he was struggling to keep his McLaren under control), and came in a distant twelfth. Once again though, McLaren don't seem to have the ultimate pace of the Red Bulls or even the Ferraris. They'll need something strange to happen to win either title.

Elsewhere, Massa bounced back from his Japan troubles to come third, and Schumi for the second race in a row looked impressive, and came in fourth. Whisper it, he's beginning to look a little bit like his old self. Kubica was strangely subdued in coming fifth (he looked quick in practice but seemed to fade subsequently). And a big shout out for Tonio Liuzzi, who finished sixth, on a day that his team mate seemed to be driving into something every time you looked at your TV. It's a timely result for Tonio, given rumours have him losing his drive for next year.

Finally, a big well done to the Korean GP organisers. The problems in getting the track ready were well documented, and the doom merchants had their voluble say (including one blogger who should know better). But the weekend went off perfectly, in front of a massive crowd - which by no means all new tracks can claim. Well done to them! 

Race results

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