Alonso capitalises on Red Bull’s troubles for Korean win (Ferrari race review)

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Fernando Alonso seized an 11 point championship lead over Mark Webber with his fifth win of 2010 in the Korean Grand Prix.

He bounced back from a slow pit stop which cost him a place to Lewis Hamilton and stayed on top of tyre wear in the closing stages to score an impressive win.

Felipe MassaFernando Alonso
Qualifying position63
Qualifying time comparison (Q3)1’36.571 (+0.805)1’35.766
Race position31
Pit stops11

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Felipe Massa

Couldn’t match his Q2 time in Q3 and qualified sixth on the grid.

Stayed out of trouble in the race – though he nearly spun at the same corner that claimed Mark Webber late on – and brought the car home third.

Compare Felipe Massa’s form against his team mate in 2010

Fernando Alonso

Startlingly fast in the first sector in qualifying, he briefly looked set to take pole position before being bumped back to third by the Red Bulls.

Moved up to second when Webber crashed and briefly lost the place due to a slow pit stop. Re-gained it when Hamilton went off on lap 35.

He inherited the lead when Sebastian Vettel’s engine blew with ten laps to go.

By the end of the race it was clear Alonso had looked after his intermediate tyres far better than his rivals. He was able to lap whole seconds than his rivals and his rear tyres were visibly in better condition:

It is a great feeling winning this way, as it was a very difficult victory, given the track conditions.

Especially at the start, the situation on track and in terms of visibility was really precarious. That was the most worrying time, because I knew it would be an achievement just to stay on the track. We had never driven here in the wet and so there was no reference point.

Webber’s retirement slightly changed our approach because, all in all, it would have been sufficient to finish on the podium without taking too many risks. The final stages were particularly difficult because half the track was almost dry and the tyres were getting ruined really quickly.

I witnessed both Red Bull problems from very close up: in these situations you try and stay super-concentrated, because you are coming from a high speed corner and there is no time to think.

Clearly, this was a great help for our championship chances, but luck proves that Formula 1 is not just about the maths. If you then think about what happened at races such as Valencia and Silverstone, you can really say that what goes around comes around.
Fernando Alonso

Compare Fernando Alonso’s form against his team mate in 2010

2010 Korean Grand Prix

    Browse all 2010 Korean Grand Prix articles

    Image © KAVO

    Author information

    Keith Collantine
    Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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    66 comments on “Alonso capitalises on Red Bull’s troubles for Korean win (Ferrari race review)”

    1. Alonso’s best win?

      1. This year? Definitely.

        All time? I’d put Imola ’05 and Nurburgring ’07 ahead. And probably Fuji ’08.

        1. I think I would as well, but I thought I’d pose the question anyway as I think this one is up there. His final stint was magnificent, on average 1.4 seconds a lap faster than Massa in the period after the final SC and on average 1.444 seconds a lap faster than Hamilton after Vettel retired. It was rather brilliant.

        2. I’m not sure about that. I’d say Singapore was better than this.

          I think any win that you inherit from another driver’s failure shouldn’t be considered amongst a driver’s best.

          1. Whilst not necessarily agreeing with the second part, I’d agree with your first sentence. Singapore was a lesson in how to drive a car fast within the white lines and not get overtaken by someone with a car advantage. Korea was only impressive in his tyre management, which is partly down to the car too.

          2. I’m not sure about that. I’d say Singapore was better than this.

            But who’s not to say he wasn’t going to catch and pass Vettel had he not retired? At the end he was lapping considerably faster than anyone else, and Vettel’s tyres probably would have been worn as much as Hamilton’s, so Alonso may have breezed past. People are saying he was lucky today, which he was, but I think we were robbed of a battle for the lead actually. If Alonso had have passed Vettel for the lead through skill (which he may well have done) it would propel this race even further up that list of ‘best ever wins’.

        3. I’d put Hungary 2006 as his best win ever, if it wasn’t for a “minor trifle”: His right rear wheel came off after the pitstop, when he had climbed from 15th to 1st and was poised for a clear victory; he got a DNF instead. But his driving there was awesome, his best ever, as good as anything by Ayrton Senna da Silva himself.

          1. I agree about his first lap at Hungary ’06 – comparable with Donington ’93, but later in the race Button was going even quicker and would’ve most probably won even without Alonso’s wheel failure.

            1. We’ll never know for sure, but I doubt it. Before the botched pitstop Jenson was closing in a bit because Alonso’s tyres were dying, but after the pitstop, with fresh tyres, Alonso’s pace should have been clearly better than Jenson’s.

              The tyre wear in that race was impressive. Robert Kubica got his debut there and finished 7th, in the points, but got a DSQ because his car was 2 kg under the weight, because of his abismally worn tyres.

        4. Better than the Singapore grand slam that he dominated just two races earlier? I would put his drive at Singapore miles ahead of Korea.

          1. Opinions, opinions…

            I’d say driving in Singapore was a lot easier then in Korea this year. Alonso drove flawlessly in both, but the merit for doing it in Korea is surely greater.

            In Singapore he got the pole so he didn’t have to overtake the RBR’s. Surely he wouldn’t have been able to do it, as the RBR’s had better pace (at least Seb’s).

            I’d say he made a better job qualifying in Singapore but a better race in Korea. Just my 2 cents anyway.

        5. @ Keith I think Turkey 2006 also needs to be on that list.

          1. The same Turkey 2006 that he didn’t win? ;)

            1. @ czhihong
              He won Turkey 2006.

      2. Win? Best win? He was gifted a win. I wouldn’t count that as a sweet victory. It must feel nice, sure. But a bit empty isn’t it? He might not had even taken Rosberg had he not been taken out…

        1. lol I do love all the anti-Alonso fans who after ever Alonso win go into denial about how well he drove

          1. Give it up. You’d really not be saying the same about Hamilton if Alonso had had a puncture or been speared by a backmarker? If you wouldn’t, good on you, somehow I doubt it, but there’d be plenty who would – would you then be talking about anti-Hamilton fans who’d go to any length to deny his quality? I think not.

            F1iLike made a valid comment about how the “gifted” nature of the win might invalidate the claim to being his greatest ever. Did you even consider your judgement might be skewed by the fact it was his latest victory (I dislike it when Hamilton says a race was his best ever just because he’s just finished a difficult one) and his most significant for 4 years? Nope, instead someone dared to question probable exaggeration and not even do the thing you talked about in your post (deny the absolute – as opposed to relative – quality of his drive) and all you do is talk about haters.

            For what it’s worth, I think only Singapore was better this year. I haven’t followed all of Alonso’s career but I can say I don’t think either of them were his best victories.

            1. I agree that it probably wasn’t his best ever win, but he was clearly taking it a bit far by saying it was a bit empty Alonso was every bit as good as Vettel on Sunday if not better.

              As for Hamilton I probably make the odd slanted comment against him but I was saying he’d been the best driver of the season up untill Monza and that Spa was a brilliant win.

              Also I’m sure my judgement is skewed more by how much I enjoyed the race and how recent it was, but its still reasonable to argue this was one of Alonso’s finest drives.

            2. Completely agreed. Vettel had this race in the bag if his engine didn’t go all melty. Freddy did a fantastic job this weekend but Singapore is definitely better than this one.

              I also lack the background to say overall.

            3. I’m not sure I would chose this race as a time to crow about Hamilton’s talent. He was, after all, in second place at one point in the race, but lost it to . . . Alonso.

          2. The Anti-Alonso argument? Really?

            1. sorry, you’re probably not one of them. it’s just there are lots that’ve made comments saying it was an empty victory etc and its a bit tedious

      3. Big IF alert:

        It was an impressively solid race by Fernando but not a brilliant one. It could have been a trully brilliant one (I’d say his second best ever) IF he had managed to overtake Lewis, Nico and the RBRs (Nico was never ahead of Fernando but would probably have got there after the pitstop if Mark hadn’t torpedoed him).

        Could he have done it? I doubt it, unless he had a massive advantage in the tyre condition department. Probably he had it over Lewis, but about the RBR’s or Nico it’s anybody’s guess.

        This year we have seen a number of quite solid drives by Fernando (and a few uncharacteristically horrid mistakes, like the jumpstart in Shanghai) but not truly brilliant ones. He’s only managed to overtake a few backmarkers on track when starting from the back of the grid, but not championship rivals (well no one of them has done it this year except Lewis in Montreal -that I can remember at least-).

    2. Massa was able to add some points to constructor championship but it was not helpful for Alonso as Ferrari expect him to do. He was not a threat to Hamilton in race.

      1. oh dear, Felipe baby did a pretty good quiet race but I could hardly expect him to challenge Lewis. The only moment when he might have done it was when Lewis went wide at T2, but Felipe was a bit too far behind Fernando and couldn’t get him.

    3. good win.

      ‘what goes around comes around.’
      I agree. It’s been going on all season.

    4. I am absolutely shocked that Massa was able to keep it on the track and finish this race – he had so many opportunities to lose control of the car, and usually if he is given any excuse to throw it away – rain, curbs, low tire temps, a full moon – he will do so. Also, Massa’s constant whining about traffic in qualifying is getting really old.

      1. So you’re shocked that he finished the race even though he’s only had one driver-related retirement since April 2008?

    5. Well done Fernando,as the great poet said >
      If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs.
      If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew to serve your turn long after they are gone,
      And so hold on when there is nothing in you except the will which says to them “hold on”
      Well done Michael Schumacher >

      If you can meet with triumph and disaster,
      And treat those 2 imposters just the same,
      If you can make one heap of all your winnings,
      And risk it on one turn of pitch or toss,
      And lose and start again at your beginnings,
      And never breathe a word about your loss
      And finally for young Seb and Nico Rosberg.

      If you can dream and not make dreams your Master – then yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it – and, what is more –
      you’ll be a man my son.

      1. Surely COTD in my book!

        1. Rudyard Kipling might disagree

    6. As a Massa fan, now everytime someone is going to bring Silverstone 2008 into an argument, I am going to bring 2010 Korea into it.

      1. I wouldn’t, given how much slower he was than Alonso at the end. This should have been a Ferrari one-two.

      2. He was decent but he Alonso beat him by 30 seconds even though there was a SC 20 laps before the finish. I think combined with being outqualified by 0.8s I think this weekend illustrated the gulf in class between the two Ferrari drivers (sorry Steph)

        1. I think its a bit unfair to read too much into Massa’a pace at the very end.

          He wasn’t going to catch Hamilton with 10 laps to go, so it was better just to cruise around and finish 3rd rather than risk putting it into the wall.

          1. Hamilton was not going to catch Alonso but he was going even faster in his final laps.

            I think he could have tried to catch Hamilton.

        2. I wouldn’t use this one. I’d use Brazil 08 and China 09.

          Ads don’t apologise you’re absolutely right.

          His last two wins this season have been incredible. This was one of his best wins ever for me. Of all his wet weather drives I’d put this behind Nurburgring 07 and Hungary 06 (which I still say was the best ever wet weather drive of anyone) though .

          1. Felipe’s not quite as bad in the wet as people seem to make out. Obviously Silverstone 2008 was terrible, but people seem to forget that Kimi had a few spins as well that day.

            As well as the ones you mentioned; Nurburgring 2007, Fuji 2007, Monaco 2008, Melbourne 2010

            1. Well, not Nurburgring 2007- He handled the rain at the start well, but I remember him easily losing the lead on track to none other than Fernando Alonso when it rained near the end, after both drivers pitted for wets.

            2. Massa struggled in the latter stages but after he pitted for wets he suffered from tyre vibrations. Fernando was always a threat but after that he had pretty much no chance.

          2. I wouldn’t even use China 09 as he was on a contrary strategy decided 24 hours beforehand. Not that it was a bad performance by any means.

          3. “His last two wins this season have been incredible. This was one of his best wins ever for me. Of all his wet weather drives I’d put this behind Nurburgring 07 and Hungary 06 (which I still say was the best ever wet weather drive of anyone) though” (Steph).

            I’m sorry Steph, I’m not really sure if you’re talking about Fernando or Felipe.

            Both did a very good race in Nurburgring 07 but at the end Fernando won in one of the most epic wheel-to wheel battles of recent memory.

            In Hungary 2006 Felipe’s race was nothing special, he finished 7th lapped by Kimi. Fernando was driving an absolutely terrific race as I commented before, but got a DNF from a stupid mistake of the mechanic who changed his right rear wheel.

            Best wet racing ever? I might be saying Fernando in Hungary ’06 if he had won. But Fernando did it once. Ayrton Senna da Silva drove incredible wet races all the time.

            1. I was talking about Fernando not Felipe. Fernando’s first lap of Hungary was better than Senna’s at Donnington and I’ll say that until the day I die. You’re right Felipe wasn’t anything special at all that day.

              Senna absolutely always delivered in the wet and was better than Fernando in the wet generally but for an individual performance, Hungary 06 was my absolute favourite.

            2. Yeah, I wholeheartedly agree with you about that first lap, Steph. Fernando got 12 overtakes in a single lap. I bet this is an absolute record.

              And they say this bloke can’t overtake!!

    7. @Ads21 –

      Unfortunately, it also illustrated the gulf between the two McLaren drivers.

      1. I was going to say the same. It seems that this year the only two teammates that are equally matched are the Red Bulls.

      2. I agree that Lewis has more outright pace but I think Button has shown he is more consistant and capable of out thinking Hamilton at times. This means they often perform better in different circumstances and the gap in points ends up far closer than you’d expect from the gap in outright pace.

      3. While I agree there is a gap in speed between Hamilton and Button, I think the real issue at McLaren is the difficulty they are having developing that car (MP4-25). For all the work they have done to that car, it still have drivability issues with just two races left in the season. Therefore, the drivers are left to manipulate a car that only functions in a straight line. How terrible…

    8. @Ads21 –

      OK, lets look at how many times Jenson has out thought Lewis, and how many times Lewis has out driven Jenson, and compare who comes out on top?

      The point is the situations in which Jenson performs better than Lewis are few and fa between. Lucky strategy call can only take you so far.
      Remember Lewis has had 4 DNF’s this year,and almost managed to outscore his teamamte despite a 5 place grid penalty in Suzuka! Out thinking my foot!

      1. To be fair, the truth is probably somewhere between your position and Ads21’s.

        Hamilton has out performed Button this year, but this race didn’t really “illustrate the gulf between the two McLaren drivers”. It’s been much closer than that all season and you know it. :P

        1. What does illustrate the gulf/difference/whatever?

          If you had to summarise the pair, it would be “Hamilton on average ekes a few points extra every race then occasionally has most of it taken away or bins it once”

    9. Does anyone have information on how far apart Vettel and Alonso were a few laps before Sebs engine went out? I’m wondering if Alonso would of ever been able to catch him being he preserved his tires better.

      1. Alonso was only about 1 second off Vettel at the start of the lap Vettel’s Engine gave up the ghost and closing in on him for the whole lap except the first sector. I don’t know if that means the engine gave up before Vettel could feel something was wrong, or if Alonso was just that fast, but Alonso had been catching up with Vettel for several laps before then. I think Alonso was always going to have a go at Vettel at the very least and there was the distinct possibility that he would have made it stick.

        1. I doubt it. He’s been saying for ages now how consistency and podium finishes would be his route to the championship. I think he would have settled for 2nd rather than risk a tangle with “Crash Kid” on marginal tires in slippery conditions and dying light. That’s part of what makes him championship material is his ability to be patient when he needs to be.

          1. I agree with you 95%. Still, Fernando might had tried it if the occasion was clear, especially if Hamilton was closing in.

            But of course we’ll never know

          2. Agree, probably would not have tried to overtake but…. overstressing the guy ahead to the very last corner by threatening to do so; yes indeed. This is safer and has big pay off.

            To what extent this accelerated wear at Vettel engine, we will never know, but we have to admit that it happens too much once in a while to be just coincidence

      2. If you go to Keith’s article Korean Grand Prix Analysis, then go the second chart Race Progress – scroll across the chart with the cursor and you will see that Vettel has a zero value next to his name until Lap 46 when there is no value but Alonso now has the zero value next to his name. Now scroll back to Lap 45, then 44, then 43, then 42 – each time reading the number of seconds next to Alonso’s name. That’s the number of seconds Fernando was behind Sebastian for each lap.

        Keith has great data in his articles – you should take a more in-depth look at his spread sheets and charts.

        1. Between Lap 42 and 43 the gap closes, which I think is when Vettel ran wide and lost a second. In the next lap the gap increases before falling suddenly – in fact it halves before falling by the same amount at the beginning of the next lap, by which time Vettel’s engine was seriously dying.

          I don’t think there’s anything in the data to prove Alonso would have caught Vettel anyway, but there’s no way of ruling out either.

        2. Thanks Luvin, I will have to use those tools. Great job by Keith on those honestly.

          1. Thanks guys :-)

    10. Massa must be worried about next year, if he doesn´t pick up some pace, by Silverstone he will be follwing team orders again and can´t complain to much and in the end of the year maybe better starting to find a new team, what a disapointment he has been almost all year.
      Alonso has donne what he was hired for, try to win races and championships, not much to add.
      Ferrari found his driver for the next years, like mclaren with hamilton or red bull with vettel.

      1. Yeah, it’s a shame we can’t see Kubica in the other red car next year, that would be fantastic.

        Or how about Kamui alongside Alonso?! :-)

        1. A better idea would be MSC :)

          1. Lol, that would be hilarious. Seeing how Rosberg is taking care of MSC, I can only shudder to think what Alonso would do to him.

            1. Same as 2005 and 2006. Alonso is monster nowadays and MSC is uncle now.

            2. Yeah, MSC found a lot of respect for ALO after the 2005 130R at Suzuka, and especially after Hungary 2006. Both got penalties there that set them far back in the grid, and both maneged to cut through the backmarkers like they weren’t there. But the final chase and overtake by ALO on MSC are the stuff of legend. Too bad that none of them could finish the race (MSC broke up after a touch with Nick Heidfeld two laps from flag but still got a point for the 8th position)

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