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GP Week : Issue 144
34 Lewis Hamilton looked to be back in Korea, setting the pace on Saturday and finishing best of the rest on the podium. His pole position – the first time a Red Bull has been beaten to the front of the grid all year – was vintage stuff. Sebastian Vettel slid past on Lap 1 and disappeared into the distance. Hamilton had his hands full throughout with Mark Webber and the two battled wheel-to-wheel with thrilling skill, both men out to prove a point. It was a gutsy drive from Hamilton to his first podium in six races. The car looked visibly alive, whereas Hamilton has looked sheepish out on track in recent races, as well as out of the car. Clearly he is having some issues in his personal life, his relationship with Nicole Scherzinger having hit the skids. There also seemed to be some friction between him and McLaren, who just gave Jenson Button a lucrative contract extension. His radio communications throughout the weekend were clipped and stone cold. He had spoken, before the race, of his need for redemption after “the worst year” of his career so far. Team principal Martin Whitmarsh, who described Hamilton’s drive to second as “stonking” denied Lewis had to prove anything. “He didn’t have to redeem himself with me,” he answered. “He doesn’t have to redeem himself with anyone. That was a drive from a top, top driver.” KOREA Pole position – Lewis Hamilton Podium: 1. Sebastian Vettel 2. Lewis Hamilton 3. Mark Webber Sebastian Vettel took his 11th win of the season at the inaugural Indian Grand Prix, and looked utterly unassailable all weekend. In fact, he took his first ever full house: Pole, fastest lap, and every lap led. Perfect, in other words, even if his boss got the hump when he went ‘purple’ on the final lap, setting the fastest time of the day. Risky? Vettel always looked in control. Ninety-five thousand people turned up to the race, which is very encouraging for India’s inaugural Formula One event. One wonders, though, if the locals get any thrill from seeing F1 when their public roads are so exciting. Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa came together for the sixth time this year, and it’s become a bit of a joke. This time it was the Ferrari driver who copped a drive-thru penalty, and he wasn’t very happy about it. Most commentators have said Felipe was in the wrong when the two collided at Turn 5 on Lap 24. I’d say it was more 50/50. Massa knew Hamilton was making a move and braked much later. Hamilton was poised to take position but lost ground to Massa in the braking zone, who regained the racing line. Hamilton, we know, is hurting, but this is hurting Felipe even more – he hadn’t finished higher than fifth all year. It’s been his least successful of his six seasons with Ferrari so far. Hamilton was off colour all weekend, again, and apologized to his team for the “negativity that surrounds me nowadays”. He wore a helmet in India with a picture of Bob Marley on the lid, and ‘One Love’ inscribed on it. If this was a message to Nicole, No Woman No Cry would have been more apt. INDIA Pole position – Sebastian Vettel Podium: 1 Sebastian Vettel 2. Jenson Button 3. Fernando Alonso