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GP Week : Issue 138
Team-By-Team: Korean Grand Prix, Yeongam McLaren will have been relieved to see Lewis Hamilton back on form after a handful of scruffy races. After taking a superb pole position on Saturday, the only non-Red Bull driver to do so this year, he spent the entire race under intense pressure from Mark Webber, but somehow managed to hang onto second. He was hampered by a mysterious loss of front downforce however, the cause of which the team is yet to diagnose. Button took fourth in the sister McLaren having failed to properly challenge Webber for third. He was under some pressure from Alonso in the final few laps. Red Bull may have missed out on pole position for the first time in 2011 in Korea, but race victory on Sunday was a suitable replacement as Sebastian Vettel returned to the top step of the podium as the newly-crowned world champion. The German had one of his trademark races, leading from the first lap, after passing Hamilton into Turn 4, before opening a healthy lead and never getting challenged. He even set the fastest race lap at the very end of the race. Team-mate Webber may well have made it the team’s third 1-2 finish of the year had the team not called him in for his final stop on the same lap as Hamilton, whom he spent his entire race behind. Renault recorded their second non-score in three races on Sunday as Vitaly Petrov crashed out from a likely top-ten and Senna again struggled in the sister R31. Petrov started ninth and kept his place off the line, but lost a place to Schumacher in the pits. The following lap he was under pressure from Alonso going into Turn 3, braked too late and harpooned Schumacher, with Alonso narrowly avoiding contact. Senna endured his third consecutive race finish outside the top ten after a terrible start and general poor pace. His pace dropped off hugely in the closing stages of the race and was lucky not to be overtaken by Lotus’s Heikki Kovalainen who was closing fast. A rather disappointing weekend’s racing for Mercedes, with Nico Rosberg getting beaten by Toro Rosso’s Alguersuari and Michael Schumacher failing to reach the finish. Having started 12th, Schumacher was racing strongly and had risen to 9th by lap 5, but was lampooned by Vitaly Petrov at turn 3 after leapfrogging the Russian in the pits the previous lap. That left Rosberg to pick up the pieces for Mercedes, but he had to make a very early final pitstop after flat-spotting his Pirellis. That made him vulnerable at the finish and Alguersuari took advantage to overtake into Turn 3 on the final lap. Williams had their slim hopes of a points finish effectively eliminated when Pastor Maldonado was given a drive-through penalty for an illegal entry into the pitlane, although the penalty ultimately proved to be trivial as the Venezuelan retired a few laps later with an engine problem. He was 11th just before serving his drive-through. Barrichello never rose higher than 12th however. Despite opting for a mammoth 25-lap final stint, he was able to keep pumping in consistent laptimes and picked up two places in the closing stages to finish 12th. A new front wing on Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari failed to lift the Scuderia any further up the grid, as they were once again unable to match McLaren and Red Bull at the front. Alonso was hampered by being stuck behind Massa for his first two stints, before finally getting clear during the final round of stops. He couldn’t challenge Button for fourth however, having just ran out of laps. Massa took sixth after one of his stronger races this year and was able to hold Alonso at bay for over half the race. He lost time behind Rosberg during his second stint however, costing him a chance to progress further. 34