October 8th 2013 (R.Creed/ F1plus).- Sebastian Vettel once again took a comfortable victory but all eyes were on the action happening behind him. Kimi Raikkonen battled from his starting position of ninth to finish second whilst teammate Romain Grosjean started and finished third to take the last podium place.
The star of the race was Nico Hulkenberg who finished fourth having passed both Ferrari’s on lap one and then kept both Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso behind him. Elsewhere there were close battles between Massa, Perez, Gutierrez and Maldonado.
Sebastian Vettel took another victory as he moves ever closer to his fourth title. His rivals will be happier that the gap between him and the Lotuses was much closer. He was also battling to keep his tyres in top conditions nursing his right front tyre until the end of the race. Mark Webber was out of luck in Korea. A ten-place grid penalty for his taxi ride in Singapore left him 13th on the grid. He made progress through the race but shortly after pitting Perez’s delamination saw him run across the debris and pick up a puncture. With no medium tyres left he had to switch to the supersoft. After the safety car from the Perez incident Adrian Sutil lost control of his Force India at turn three and careered in Webber. The Australian’s car then caught on fire leaving his team with a tough task to get the car ready for next weekend in Japan. The fire brought out the second safety car but not before a fire marshall car took to the track causing confusion. It is mathematically possible for Vettel to take his fourth title next weekend.
Kimi Raikkonen finished a triumphant second having started in ninth. The two safety cars helped the Finn before he overtook his teammate late in the race to steal the spot from the Frenchman. Romain Grosjean had started third and got ahead of Hamilton to pursue Vettel. Whilst the gap was a lot closer than in previous races it was not enough. Grosjean made a small mistake which gifted Raikkonen the place although it was very close between the two teammates.
Nico Hulkenberg and Sauber were the stars of the race. Having started seventh the German managed to pass both the Ferrari’s of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso on the opening lap. In the first stint of the race he kept ahead of the double world champion and was still ahead him after the first pit stop. At the restart after the first safety car Hulkenberg passed Hamilton and the pair then battled to the end. There was a close moment where it looked like it was all over and Hamilton had managed to get passed, however the German was quickly back passed and he finished the race in fourth. Esteban Gutierrez started in the top ten and was unlucky to miss out on the last point after a close battle with Massa, Maldonado and Perez.
Lewis Hamilton finished fifth in a disappointing day for the Briton. He had started second but was passed by Grosjean early on. He held on to third until the first round of pitstops. After his teammate Nico Rosberg suffered a nose/front wing failure the team pitted him before Hamilton who lost out and had to complete another lap. He ended up behind Hulkenberg and despite passing him on one occasion at turn one he couldn’t get passed. Rosberg’s race nearly ended in sparks but he managed to keep the car running back to the pits, he finished the day in eighth after a battle with the McLaren of Jenson Button.
Both the Ferrari’s found they were passed by the Sauber’s on lap one. Felipe Massa caused mass confusion after spinning at the third corner on lap one. A number of drivers had to take avoiding action and it pushed Massa well down the field. After the incident Alonso was behind Hulkenberg who he was unable to pass. After the two safety cars he was behind Hamilton and Hulkenberg. As the two battled the Spaniard closed up and diced with Hamilton but could not find a way passed. He finished the day in sixth. Massa battled with Maldonado, Gutierrez and Perez to finish ninth.
Jenson Button was McLaren’s highest finisher with both drivers finishing in the top ten. The Briton finished seventh in the late battle for fourth between Hulkenberg, Hamilton, Alonso and Rosberg. He was passed by Rosberg but got the place back to take home four important points. Sergio Perez brought out the first safety car after his front right tyre threw off its tread throwing its debris across the track. He made it back to the pits and clawed his way back up the standings after a battle with Maldonado, Massa, and Gutierrez to take the last point.
Williams missed out on the final point after a close battle between the teammates, Maldonado and Bottas, and the McLaren of Perez, Ferrari of Massa and Sauber of Guiterrez. In a few corners Maldonado went from tenth to 14th after being passed by the above and his teammate. Bottas ended the day in 12th while his teammate was behind him in 13th.
Charles Pic took 14th ahead of his teammate Giedo van der Garde in 15th as they continue their close battle with Marussia. The Dutchman got a drive through penalty for forcing Jules Bianchi’s Marussia wide on the opening lap and recovered to pass both Marussias.
The Marussia pair finished 16th and 17th with Bianchi beating Max Chilton to the finish line. Van der Garde got a drive through penalty for forcing Bianchi’s Marussia wide on the opening lap but recovered to pass both Marussias before the end of the race.
Both Toro Rosso’s retired on the last lap with mechanical issues. Daniel Ricciardo had been running in ninth after a long first stint which saw him mix it with the front runners. However his day ended after a mechanical problem which saw him pull up at the side of the track. Jean-Erice Vergne also ended his day with a mechanical problem but was classified finishing 18th ahead of Ricciardo in 19th.
It was a day to forget for Force India. A less than impressive performance in qualifying in Saturday continued on Sunday. Paul di Resta continues to diminish his chance of a top drive after crashing out of yet another race on lap 25. His teammate Adrian Sutil caused Mark Webber’s retirement from the race after spinning his Force India at turn three on the first safety car restart. The German managed to continue before pulling into the pits with five laps to run.