A mis-timed pit stop cost Red Bull a potential one-two but they secured the constructors’ championship.
|Sebastian Vettel||Mark Webber|
|Qualifying time comparison (Q3)||1’36.042 (-0.426)||1’36.468|
Red Bull drivers’ lap times throughout the race (in seconds):
|Start tyre||Super soft|
|Pit stop 1||Super soft 19.985s|
|Pit stop 2||Soft 20.17s|
Red Bull looked under pressure on Saturday as Lewis Hamilton ended their unbeaten run in qualifying and the team appeared to be concerned by tyre wear.
But Vettel’s tenth win turned out to be one of his most straightforward of the year. His eventual winning margin of 12 seconds was one of his largest of the year, second only to Australia.
He coolly dispensed with Hamilton on the first lap, squeezing through a narrow gap at the inside of turn four, and was untroubled from that point on:
“Lewis was very fair going into turn four,” he said afterwards. “I was right on the edge, nearly went straight.
“It was crucial and then I was a little bit afraid as I had really pushed hard. I knew that with the headwinds down the straight from the second to the third corner it would be very easy for the cars behind to close the gap as I would be the first one facing the wind.”
His lead was almost five seconds by the end of the first stint, but the safety car wiped that advantage away.
Having saved three fresh sets of soft tyres for the race he opted not to use any of them until he had to, instead using another set of super softs for his middle stint. He didn’t pull away from Hamilton as quickly this time, but the gap began to grow as Hamilton and Webber became embroiled in their battle over second.
He had more than ten seconds in hand throughout the final stint and cruised home to win at the track where he was cruelly robbed of victory last year.
He even indulged in his pleasure for fastest lap-hunting on the final tour, despite his team urging him not to: “I think they will kill me now,” he said after the race.
“On the radio, they said ‘you didn’t get the fastest lap’ which obviously isn’t true, and then they came on the radio and said ‘idiot, you got it.'”
|Start tyre||Super soft|
|Pit stop 1||Soft 20.828s|
|Pit stop 2||Soft 20.8s|
For only the second time this year, Webber gained a position on the first lap of the race. He had initially fallen to fifth behind Felipe Massa, but took advantage of Jenson Button running wide at turn four to gain one place, then opportunistically took Massa on the outside of the following bend.
Unlike Vettel, Webber used soft tyres for his second stint. He closed on the leading pair towards the end of the stint, but was unhappy to end up coming into the pits on the same lap as Hamilton. It cost him his best chance of taking second place.
He explained: “The last pit stop was really what snookered us, I suppose. I was informing the team that my tyres were still good, but we still pitted.
“Yeah, that was a bit disappointing to do the same thing as Lewis because we should have done something different.”
Christian Horner said the team had been trying to get Webber in on the lap before Hamilton, but ended up bringing him in on the same lap. The team were not convinced the place could be gained by staying out longer than Hamilton. Fernando Alonso had done this to overtake Massa, but the Ferrari is kinder to its tyres than the Red Bull.
Webber spent the remainder of the race locked in a battle with Hamilton which was exciting but did not produce his desired outcome: “The fight after the pit stop was haymakers, full-on into each other. It was a good battle.
“So I think overall I’m satisfied how the battle turned out. It was nothing extreme, just a good car race.”
2011 Korean Grand Prix
Image © Red Bull/Getty images