2010 Korean Grand Prix
|Race 17 of 19 in the 2010 Formula One season|
|Date||October 24, 2010|
|Official name||2010 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix|
|Location||Yeongam, South Jeolla, South Korea|
|Course||Korea International Circuit|
|Course length||5.615 km (3.489 mi)|
|Distance||55 laps, 308.630 km (191.774 mi)|
|Time||1:50.257 on lap 42|
The 2010 Korean Grand Prix (formally the 2010 Formula 1 Korean Grand Prix) was a Formula One motor race held on 24 October 2010 at the Korea International Circuit, in Yeongam, South Jeolla, South Korea. It was the seventeenth round of the 2010 Formula One season and the first running of the Korean Grand Prix. The 55-lap race was won by Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso who started from third position. Lewis Hamilton finished second for McLaren and Alonso's team-mate Felipe Massa was third.
The race began behind the safety car but was stopped due to persistent rain after three laps. After a 45-minute delay, the race was restarted and the safety car pulled into the pits after thirteen laps and pole sitter Sebastian Vettel maintained his lead into the first corner. A second safety car deployment caused by the collision of Mark Webber and Nico Rosberg, closed the field up, but Vettel retained the lead. Alonso maintained second position until a botched pit stop during a third safety car period dropped him to third. At the restart, Hamilton ran wide allowing Alonso back into second. Vettel's engine failed on lap 46, allowing Alonso to move into the lead which he maintained to win the race.
The victory was Alonso's fifth of the season, and the result put him into the lead of the Drivers' Championship, eleven points ahead of Webber, who had dropped to second having failed to finish the race. Hamilton moved into third, and Vettel's retirement meant he slipped to fourth. In the World Constructors' Championship, Red Bull retained their lead but was reduced by McLaren who were thirty-five points behind, with Ferrari a further twenty-five points adrift, with two races of the season remaining.
The Grand Prix was contested by twelve teams with two drivers each. The teams (also known as constructors) were Red Bull, Mercedes, McLaren, Ferrari, Renault, Williams, Force India, Sauber, Toro Rosso, Lotus, Hispania and Virgin. Tyre supplier Bridgestone brought four different tyre types to the race: two dry compounds (soft "options" and hard "primes") and wet-weather compounds (intermediate and full wet).
Before the race Red Bull driver Mark Webber led the Drivers' Championship with 220 points, ahead of Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel who were both tied for second on 206 points. Lewis Hamilton was fourth with 192 points and team-mate Jenson Button was fifth on 189 points. In the Constructors' Championship Red Bull were leading with 426 points, McLaren and Ferrari were second and third with 381 and 334 points respectively, while Mercedes (176 points) and Renault (133) contended for fourth place. Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari had so far clinched victories in the previous sixteen rounds of the season. Other drivers Felipe Massa (twice) and Robert Kubica had both secured second place podium finishes with Nico Rosberg, Massa (three times), Kubica (once) had all achieved third place podium finishes.
With three races remaining in the Championship and a fourteen-point advantage, Webber said he would not back off in his pursuit of the title: "I need to keep racing hard and going for victories. Clearly, if my rivals have a rough weekend it makes it a bit harder for them and it gives me a bit more scope, but I'm not looking to abuse that because it can all go pear-shaped very fast." Vettel emphasised how his season so far had been fraught with car problems but still remained positive about his chances: "I think it’s normal to have ups and downs – and sometimes you have more, sometimes less – but, as I said, the expectation was probably to be in a position to fight for the championship and I think we’re in a very strong and very good position." Alonso urged his team-mate Massa to help him in his title bid and believed that the Korean Grand Prix could become "decisive" for his championship rivals.
Following increased hostilities between North Korea and South Korea in the wake of the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March 2010, Formula One Group chief executive Bernie Ecclestone had declared that the race would be in jeopardy if political tensions continued to escalate, and would be abandoned in the event that the army crossed the border. Although hostilities between the two nations eventually relaxed, the race was further threatened by delayed construction. On 27 September 2010, Ecclestone expressed doubts that the circuit would be ready despite the tarmac having been laid. A final inspection of the circuit took place on 11 October, with the Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) safety delegate Charlie Whiting certifying the circuit was ready on 12 October. As the topmost layer of the surface was only completed ten days before the race, the oils and bitumen chemicals in the tarmac did not have time to be scoured away by the elements, leading circuit designer Hermann Tilke to predict the surface would be slippery, making the race challenging for drivers and exciting for fans.
The circuit received a mostly positive response from the drivers. Adrian Sutil of Force India commented that he felt it was a "real pleasure" to be racing on the track and praised it for having "a lot of character". Mercedes driver Michael Schumacher noted that the asphalt improved during the Friday free practice sessions and felt the track was "very demanding and tricky which provides a challenge that I like a lot.” However the drivers raised concerns about the entry of the pit lane at turn 17, a corner taken at 150 mph. Kubica stated "It might be quite tight if someone's pitting" and Lotus driver Jarno Trulli said that he was "worried about someone going into the back of him" when he was forced to pit in because he was stuck in gear. He also said that the drivers would raise the point with Whiting.
Some teams made modifications to their cars in preparation for the event. Red Bull and Williams both revised their brake ducts. Williams' brake duct changes made at the front aimed to improve airflow inside the tyres and direct it towards their car's central section more efficiently. Red Bull's brake ducts, which had been changed for the third successive Grand Prix, reintroduced a small fin seen at the Singapore Grand Prix and for Korea two aerodynamic fins were fitted for the first time. One larger duct was also introduced. McLaren modified a version of their front wings first introduced in Singapore. A vertical gurney flap and one additional vertical slot were added by the team at the front wing endplate, aimed at improving airflow outside the front tyres and increasing the amount of downforce, and therefore grip, produced by the bodywork. Ferrari brought a further revision to its diffuser with curved profiles and one large middle plate designed to improve the extraction of air from the bottom of the F10. As in Suzuka, Torro Rosso ran a F-duct system in the Friday practice sessions.
Practice and qualifying
Three practice sessions were held before the Sunday race—two on Friday, and a third on Saturday. The Friday morning and afternoon sessions each lasted 90 minutes. The third session was held on Saturday morning and lasted an hour. The first practice session were held on a dusty track, where grip was poor and some drivers were forced onto the run-off areas after sliding onto the track. Hamilton set the pace in the first practice session, with a time of 1:40.887, almost one-tenth of a second quicker than Kubica. Rosberg and Michael Schumacher set the third and sixth fastest times respectively for Mercedes; they were separated by Vettel and Button. Webber was seventh quickest, ahead of Nick Heidfeld. The two Williams drivers rounded out the top ten, Nico Hülkenberg ahead of Rubens Barrichello. Hispania driver Bruno Senna spun at turn nine after his left rear suspension broke and stopped on track without hitting the barriers. In the second practice session, were grip was improved, Webber set the quickest time of the day, a 1:37.942, despite spinning late in the session. Alonso was second quickest with Hamilton third. Kubica set the fourth quickest time. Button, who was sidelined for most of the session with an overheated exhaust, was fifth. Massa, Vettel, Vitaly Petrov, Rosberg and Kamui Kobayashi made up the rest of the top ten. Sakon Yamamoto in the other Hispania car caused the session to be suspended after spinning and stopping his car at turn 16. After discussions with Whiting in the Friday night drivers briefing, the apex at turn 16 was made higher and the wall around that area was moved back. A new apex kerb at turn 18 to stop dirt and stones from accumulating on the circuit was built and the track was extensively cleaned. Drivers were also informed they could drive into the pits from the racing line without incurring a penalty. Kubica was quickest in the final practice session; his late lap of 1:37.354 was 0.048 seconds quicker than Hamilton in second. Alonso was third quickest with Webber fourth. Rosberg, who was fifth, slowed at turn 15 during the session's closing stages and narrowly avoided a collision with Alonso. The incident was subject to a stewards investigation who imposed no penalty on Rosberg. Massa, Button, Hülkenberg, Schumacher and Sutil completed the top ten ahead of qualifying. Vettel only managed 16th; the result of running onto the grass.
The qualifying session held on Saturday afternoon was split into three parts. The first part ran for 20 minutes and eliminated the cars from qualifying that finished the session 18th or lower. The second part of qualifying lasted 15 minutes and eliminated cars that finished in positions eleven to 17. The final part of qualifying determined the positions from first to tenth, and decided pole position. Cars which competed in the final session of qualifying were not allowed to change tyres before the race, and as such started the race on the tyres that they set their quickest lap on. The session was held in overcast conditions; the air temperature was between 19 and 22 °C (66 and 72 °F) and the track temperature was at 28 °C (82 °F). Tyre degradation was heavy on the soft compound tyres with the drivers setting their laps on the hard tyres in the first session, and switched to softs in the two remaining sessions. Vettel set the fastest time in the final session and achieved his ninth pole position of the season, his first at the Korea International Circuit, with a lap of 1:35.585. He was joined on the front row of the grid by Webber who recorded a lap 0.076 seconds slower and was pleased that he would start alongside his team-mate. Alonso qualifed third, and stated that his starting position was Ferrari's "maximum potential". He also aimed to ensure that he finished the race because of forecasts of rain. Hamilton set the first session's fastest time of 1:37.113, and almost did not advance further as he avoided making contact with the wall at the pit lane entry. He fell to fourth overall in the final part of qualifying. Rosberg secured fifth with Massa sixth. Button complained that he could not get his types up to optium temperature and managed seventh position but was happy to start on the clean side of the grid. Kubica struggled with oversteer which prevented him from setting a faster lap and took eighth. Schumacher in the slower Mercedes took ninth ahead of Barrichello in tenth. Barrichello was angry with Schumacher because the Mercedes driver had blocked Barrichello during the second qualifying session. Schumacher went to Barrichello to apologise and was subsequently summoned by the stewards who issued Schumacher with a reprimand. Hülkenberg was the fastest driver not to advance into the final session, qualifying eleventh; his best time of 1:37.620 was 1.5 seconds slower than Webber's place in the second session. He was followed in the times by the BMW Sauber drivers of Kobayashi and Heidfeld in twelfth and 13th. The pair were followed by Sutil in the quicker of the two Force India cars. Petrov, who qualified in 15th, was penalised five positions on the grid because of causing an avoidable accident with Hülkenberg at the previous race at Suzuka. As a result, Jaime Alguersuari inherited 15th position, ahead of his team-mate Sébastien Buemi. Vitantonio Liuzzi, Trulli and Timo Glock were the quickest drivers unable to advance beyond the first part of qualifying. The final two rows of the grid were completed by Heikki Kovalainen (Lotus), Lucas di Grassi (Virgin), Yamamoto and Senna.
The track was wet before the race, as rain had fallen in the area overnight. The air temperature was at 20 °C (68 °F) with the track temperature was at 18 °C (64 °F). A total of approximately 80,000 people attended the race. Ferrari discovered an water leak in Alonso's car which was repaired in the hour before the event started. While on their reconnaissance laps, Massa, Senna and Glock went off the circuit but avoided damage to their cars, as drivers tested out different wet tyre compounds. The race was scheduled to start at 15:00 KST (UTC+9), but rain continued to fall. A new start time of 15:10 local time was planned. Standing water on the track, causing heavy spray and impairing visibility, meant that the race would start behind the safety car; all cars were required to use the full wet tyres. The race began without a formation lap and despite the slow speed, drivers struggled for grip on the wet surface. After three laps under the safety car conditions were unchanged, and the race was suspended. Light rain prevented the resumption of the Grand Prix for over 45 minutes, until the marshals and road sweeping trucks removed some of the excess water and dirt on the track. Resin on the newly laid track surface had prevented water from soaking into the ground. The rain had eased slightly during the suspension. Teams were also allowed to change the set-up of their cars which were largely optimised for dry weather conditions.
The race was restarted behind the safety car with the drivers in the positions held before the suspension. The safety car remained out for 14 laps, during which the standing water was reduced with the cars circulating the track. Once the safety car drove into the pit lane, cars were allowed to overtake. Vettel maintained his pole position lead going into the first turn with Webber close behind. Further back, Schumacher passed Kubica for eighth. Rosberg got past Hamilton by taking the inside line to take fourth at the third corner. Button tried to overtake Massa heading into turn four, but Button ran wide. He lost the advantage for a moment and fended off Schumacher's attempts to pass him. At the end of the first racing lap, Vettel led by 2.8 seconds from Webber, who in turn was followed by Alonso, Rosberg, Hamilton, Massa, Button, Schumacher, Kubica, Hülkenberg, Sutil, Barrichello, Kobaysahi, Heidfeld, Alguersari, Liuzzi, Buemi, Glock, Petrov, Kovalainen, Yamamoto, Trulli, Senna and di Grassi. Sutil ran off the circuit but managed to continue after losing his position to both Williams drivers. Webber lost grip on the next lap after running across the outside kerbing and spun across the track onto the wall between turns twelve and 13 and collected Rosberg. The debris on-track from the accident called the safety car to be deployed. Kobayashi, Petrov, Heidfeld and Buemi all pitted for intermediate tyres during the safety car period.
The safety car pulled off the track at the end of lap 23 and the race got underway again with Vettel leading from Alonso and Hamilton. Vettel began to gradually pull clear from the rest of the field. On the 25th lap, Trulli, while battling for Senna for 21st place, collided with the Hispania driver after attempting a passing manoeuvre around the inside and Trulli's front wing was knocked off. Trulli drove to his garage for repairs. Button, who was in fifth, started to place Massa under pressure on the same lap. Kobayashi passed Yamamoto on lap 26 but ran wide and fell down the order, while Trulli rejoined the race. di Grassi spun and made light contact with the wall on the same lap which caused him to retire. Schumacher moved up a position as he passed Button for fifth position at turn three on lap 27. Upfront, Vettel set a new fastest lap of the race of 1:54.098 to extend his lead over Alonso to 3.5 seconds. Button, who was under pressure from Hülkenberg and Kubica, pitted at the end of lap 28 for intermediate tyres and rejoined in fifteenth. Kovalainen was sent into a spin by Buemi having been passed by Petrov two laps later. On lap 31, Buemi attempted to pass Glock on the inside down into turn three but lost control of his car under braking and rammed into the side of Glock, with Buemi sustaining a broken left front suspension and front wing damage.
The incident called for the third safety car period of the race. During the safety car deployment, Alonso had a pit stop which proved problematic: he arrived into his pit box sideways after locking his tyres and one of his mechanics could not fit his front right wheel because the wheel nut flew off which caused Alonso to be stationary for nine seconds longer than usual. He lost third place to Hamilton. The safety car drove into the pits at the end of the 34th lap and Vettel led at the restart. Hamilton ran wide at the first corner allowing Alonso to retake second position and immediately came under attack from Massa. Kubica clinched eighth off Hülkenberg by taking the inside line at the third corner. As Vettel maintained his lead, the stewards informed the Lotus team that Kovalainen had been caught speeding in the pit lane, for which he was served with a ten second stop-and-go penalty which was taken on lap 39. Sutil took to the inside line and passed Button for twelfth on lap 36, with Button pushed wide onto the run-off area and fell to 15th position. Alonso set a new fastest lap and closed the gap to 1.2 seconds behind Vettel at the start of lap 37. Further back, Sutil managed to overtake Heidfeld for twelfth on the following lap. Sutil tried to pass Kobayashi on lap 38 at turn three but outbraked himself allowing Kobayashi to retake the position. However he was able to pass the Sauber driver because of higher straightline speed, but Sutil braked later and slid off the track, rejoining in 14th. One lap later, Alonso was told his team to drive less aggressively through turns seven and eight in an effort to preserve tyre life. At the conclusion of the lap 39, the scheduled pit stops had been completed with Vettel leading Alonso, who was followed by Hamilton, Massa, Schumacher, Barrichello, Petrov, Hülkenberg, Kubica, Liuzzi, Kobayashi, Heidfeld, Alguersari, Sutil, Button, Senna, Kovalainen and Yamamoto.
A dry line began to emerge on lap 41, as Petrov lost control of the rear-end of his car between turns 17 and 18 and slid sideways into the tyre barrier at the pit lane entry. Alonso reduced the lead of Vettel to 1.1 seconds as he set the fastest lap of the race, 1:50.257 on lap 42. By lap 44, darkness was starting to approach and Vettel complained he could not see the braking point in turn one while Hamilton thought the visibilty was "fine". At the start of the 46th lap, Vettel started to slow and Alonso passed him for the lead. Vettel then pulled into a gap at the mainstraight wall, with smoke billowing from his engine, and retired. Sutil tried to get ahead of Kobayashi on lap 47 but he slid into the side of the Sauber and Sutil went off the track to retire with suspension damage. Kobayashi was able to keep going. Hülkenberg sild off the track on lap 52 and pitted for new tyres. Barrichello ran wide on the same lap and fell down to seventh. Alonso opened a gap to 14 seconds and crossed the finish line on lap 55 to clinch his fifth victory of the season in a time of 2'48:20.810, at an average speed of 68.349 miles per hour (109.997 km/h). Hamilton finished second 14.9 seconds behind, ahead of Massa in third, Schumacher equalled his best result of the season with fourth (at the Spanish Grand Prix and the Turkish Grand Prix). He was followed by Kubica in fifth, Liuzzi in sixth, Barrichello in seventh, Kobayashi eighth, Heidfeld ninth and Hülkenberg rounded out the points-scoring positions in tenth. Alguersuari and Button were the last drivers on the lead lap, with Kovalainen, Senna and Yamamoto the last of the classified finishers.
The top three drivers appeared on the podium to collect their trophies and at a later press conference. Alonso felt the Grand Prix was "one of the best races of the year" for the Ferrari team and stated that the wet weather conditions made the victory more difficult: "I think it’s one of the most tricky conditions’ victories I’ve ever had, probably, because we started with very extreme conditions, red flag, then a couple of laps behind the safety car." Alonso said he would not be changing his apporach to driving in the final two rounds of the season. Hamilton expressed his feeling that finishing in second was still "a great result" and declared himself "very happy". He also revealed that he lost time to his rivals in the final sector of the track because of issues with his brakes. Massa said that despite the poor visibilty that he endured he was happy to finish third.
Much of the attention turned to the accident of Mark Webber on lap 19 which involved Rosberg and Vettel's engine failure on the 46th lap. Webber admitted that he was fault for causing the accident: "I thought I'd managed to catch it but I lost the car and made contact with the wall. Then Nico hit me, which wrecked his race as well. It was my mistake and it wasn't my day." Rosberg was puzzled over the incident as he said "I don't understand why Webber didn't hit the brakes. It was crazy to roll back across the track like that." Gerhard Berger, who raced in Formula One for thirteen years, courted controversy when he accused Webber of causing the incident deliberately and suggested the Red Bull driver planned to take out either Alonso or Hamilton. Red Bull team principal Christian Horner defended Webber in a interview with The Daily Telegraph saying it was "absurb" that Webber attempted to take out another competitor and stated the car suffered heavy damage with the collision with the wall. Webber later went to Rosberg and apologised for the crash on the Friday before the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Vettel said that Red Bull had "did more or less, a perfect job" in the race. Renault principal engineer Fabrice Lom apologised to Red Bull for Vettel's engine failure. Horner susquently stated that Red Bull would not be favouring Vettel or Webber for the Drivers' Championship. In 2011, Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko stated that he had considered retirement from the sport after Vettel and Webber failed to finish the race, because he believed that Red Bull lost the possibility to win the title in 2010. After Webber and Vettel retired, members of both the McLaren and Ferrari teams celebrated the events. Sauber team principal Peter Sauber remarked to Blick that it was "very unsporting" and that "they were scenes that didn't please me at all."
Buemi and Sutil were summoned to the stewards for the roles in their respective accidents and were handed five place grid penalites for the next race at Interlagos. Furthermore, Sutil was fined $10,000 (£6,400) for driving in the manner that was performed despite having knowledge of a problem with his brakes. Sutil said that he struggled with excessive brake force which caused him to lock his tyres and was unhappy with his performance. Kobayashi said he saw Sutil in his mirror and believed that the Force India would not complete the manoveure. Buemi said his accident with Glock was caused by the Torro Rosso driver braking late and said he felt "sorry" for Glock.
The use of a safety car to start the race had a mixed response within the sport. Massa thanked Whiting in the media whom he felt "did an excellent job of managing the situation, making the right decisions as to when to start the race and when to bring in the Safety Car at the right moment." Schumacher, Sutil and Buemi also agreed with the decision to start under safety-car conditions. However, Hamilton felt that the length of time under safety-car conditions was not "good for the spectators and it’s not fun for the drivers." He additionally felt the track was dry enough for a normal restart. BBC commentator and former driver Martin Brundle believed the race should have started at an earlier time.
As a consquence of the race, Alonso moved back into the lead of the Drivers' Championship, on 231 points. Webber's failure to score meant he fell to second eleven points behind Alonso. Hamilton's second place finish resulted in him moving ahead of Vettel, with Button remaining in fifth. In the Constructors' Championship, Red Bull still led despite not getting both cars to the finish. McLaren remained in second with 399 points, and Ferrari had caught up to McLaren, with the gap between the two teams reduced to 25 points, with two races of the season remaining. Given Alonso's new lead, Vettel acknowledged that his team had the fastest car in the season's two remaining races and remained confident of winning the drivers' championship. The Grand Prix was awarded the Race Promoters Trophy at the FIA Gala Awards held in Monte Carlo in December 2010. After the eventual conclusion of the championship in Vettel's favour by four points, the Korean Grand Prix was highlighted as one of Webber's most obvious lost opportunity in his bid to win the title.
|Pos||No||Driver||Constructor||Part 1||Part 2||Part 3||Grid|
|1||5||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||1:37.123||1:36.074||1:35.585||1|
|2||6||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1:37.373||1:36.039||1:35.659||2|
|12||23||Kamui Kobayashi||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:38.429||1:37.643||12|
|13||22||Nick Heidfeld||BMW Sauber-Ferrari||1:38.171||1:37.715||13|
|14||14||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||1:38.572||1:37.783||14|
|16||17||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:38.583||1:37.853||15|
|17||16||Sébastien Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||1:38.621||1:38.594||16|
|18||15||Vitantonio Liuzzi||Force India-Mercedes||1:38.955||17|
|22||25||Lucas di Grassi||Virgin-Cosworth||1:42.325||22|
- ^ – Renault's Vitaly Petrov was given a retroactive five-place grid penalty for causing an avoidable accident with Williams's Nico Hülkenberg at the start of the Japanese Grand Prix.
Standings after the race
- Note: Only the top five positions are included for both sets of standings.
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2010 Japanese Grand Prix
|FIA Formula One World Championship
2010 Brazilian Grand Prix
|Korean Grand Prix||Next race:
2011 Korean Grand Prix
2009 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix
|Formula One Promotional Trophy
for Race Promoter
2011 Indian Grand Prix