Red Bull twice a Champion as Vettel reigns supreme
Red Bull has sealed its second successive Constructors’ Championship with a double podium finish at the Korean Grand Prix.
The title comes just seven days after team protege Sebastian Vettel took home his second title in Japan.
Red Bull Racing has dominated the 2011 season, taking 10 wins, 24 podium finishes and 15 pole positions. Ironically, this weekend was the first time all season that neither Sebastian Vettel nor Mark Webber managed to start from P1 on the grid.
It was Lewis Hamilton who became the first non-RBR driver to lay his hands on that prize all year, beating the reigning World Champion to the post by two-tenths of a second.
Sebastian Vettel would make short work of Hamilton, however, taking the lead of the Grand Prix back within four corners of the first lap, from where he led the grid home.
‘I think it’s good to see that the whole team keeps on pushing,’ said the World Champion.
‘To the end it was just fantastic. After last weekend – the Drivers’ Championship – and this weekend, the Constructors’ Championship, it’s just fantastic.
‘All in all the package is fantastic. I’m very happy today.’
Hamilton, so downbeat all weekend as he reflected on what some are identifying as his worst ever season in Formula One, came home second.
The Briton had his work cut out for him, having to defend expertly against Mark Webber during the final twenty laps.
‘Mark drove really well during the race,’ said a quiet Hamilton.
‘It was impossible to be able to catch Sebastian and overtake.
‘Nonetheless a good weekend for me to compared to what I’ve had in the past, so I’m happy.’
Webber brought back the second RBR-7 to fill the third place on the podium, fitting the final piece of the jigsaw puzzle for his team to finally secure its Championship.
‘It was the team’s day today. The Contructors’, back to back – it’s been a phenomenal year,’ said Webber.
‘[But] disappointed not to get second today.’
Webber had a small window of opportunity to take his first win of the year, having played a counter strategy with tyres.
He opted to use only the prime, soft compound rubber after his first pit stop, putting him within striking distance of the lead at the second round of pit stops.
‘At the second stop we did the worst thing, we didn’t stop before we didn;t stop after we stopped on the same lap,’ he elaborated. ‘That was disappointing. But in the end it was a good battle.’
‘That’s the way it was today.’
Jenson Button, despite his optimism that he might be able to challenge for the race win, managed only fourth.
Although he managed a fair start, he well to sixth after being squeezed through the first series of corners by Webber, Massa and Alonso.
His pace was better than both the Ferraris ahead of him, but he was unable to find a way past.
McLaren resorted to using the undercut, but were caught out by Mercedes’ perfect pit stop execution on Rosberg car, who had stopped on the same lap.
Rosberg exited the pits first, but went too wide on the pit exit, leaving the door open for Button to retake his place. But Rosberg got back at him in the DRS zone. Button would have to work over the subsequent five laps to get back on Rosberg.
Fernando Alonso failed to pass Felipe Massa in the opening stages of the race, leaving him to work the entire race to use strategy to finish ahead of the Brazilian.
He stayed out longest of all during the second stint to ensure he would exit the pits just ahead of Massa, where he stayed to the end of the race, with the prancing horses finishing in P5 and P6.
Jaime Alguersuari equalled his best ever Grand Prix finish, making a move on Nico Rosberg on the last lap to come home in P7.
Sebastian Buemi backed up his teammate’s performance with ninth place classification, contributing to Toro Rosso’s eight point haul in Korea.
Paul di Resta scored the final available point of the round with P10, two and a half second ahead of his fellow Force India driver Adrian Sutil.
Only three cars suffered retirement during round 16, the first of which was Michael Schumacher – though this time by no fault of his own.
He was struck in the right rear by Vitaly Petrov, who locked up while battling with Fernando Alonso into turn three on lap 17.
With the safety car deployed, Michael Schumacher stopped on circuit with extensive rear wing damage, while Petrov returned to his garage to retire with a damaged steering arm.
Maldonado also retired on lap 32 with mechanical trouble. His race was already compromised after the stewards handed him a drive through penalty for entering the pits on the wrong side of the bollard.
With both championships now wrapped up, Formula One heads over to the subcontinent for the inaugural Indian Grand Prix on October 30.