- Korean Grand Prix
Alonso wins dramatic race to take title lead
'We must keep our feet on the ground' - di Montezemolo
Mixed fortunes for Mercedes drivers
Vettel not ruling out title chances
Second 'a great result' - Hamilton
Webber remains upbeat after crashing out in Korea
- Korean Grand Prix
- FIA Formula One World Championship
Fernando Alonso won a dramatic if protracted Korean Grand Prix to blow the title race wide open as Mark Webber crashed into retirement and Sebastian Vettel's engine blew with 10 laps remaining.
Lewis Hamilton made the most of Red Bull's misfortune to boost his title hopes with a second place finish ahead of Felipe Massa and Michael Schumacher. It means that Alonso now leads the drivers' standings from Webber by 11 points and Hamilton by 21 points, with Vettel dropping to fourth.
With the start delayed by over an hour due to rain, proper racing finally got underway on a slippery circuit with 18 laps already notched up under the safety car. Nico Rosberg was the bravest off the start, passing Hamilton for fourth as most drivers took a tentative approach. But joy soon turned to despair for Rosberg as he came across Webber in the middle of the track.
The pre-race championship leader ran wide on the exit of turn 12, lost the rear of his car and spun back into the racing line. Rosberg was unable to avoid the Red Bull and slammed into it, ending both drivers' race on the spot.
Vettel, Alonso and Hamilton held position at the restart but conditions were still bad with drivers complaining of excessive spray. On lap 31 Sebastien Buemi attempted an over-aggressive move on Timo Glock, who was running well in 13th, and took both cars out. With crash barriers lining the circuit and no cranes to extract the cars the safety car was called out again.
The caution period sparked a flood of activity in the pits as almost all the cars, bar Vettel and Alonso, pitted for intermediate tyres straight away. The lead pair followed suit on the next lap but the Ferrari stop was slower due to a sticking wheel nut and Hamilton moved up to second. However, on the restart Hamilton out-braked himself into turn one and Alonso slipped by.
The lead three went on to trade fastest lap times, but were warned by their teams to keep an eye on tyre wear as all the drivers attempted to make their intermediates last until the end. On lap 41 the teams prepared themselves for another safety car after Vitaly Petrov had a huge accident in his Renault. He lost control of the rear end in the final corner and slammed against the barriers, but race control elected to leave his wrecked Renault in the barrier and let the race continue.
By 75% distance the drivers had stayed out long enough to earn full points and Red Bull and Vettel started expressing concerns about the fading light. Just four laps later Vettel came past the pit lane with a sick sounding engine and on the following straight his Renault V8 blew up in a plume of smoke.
From that point onwards the two lead drivers monitored their pace and their tyres. Hamilton never looked capable of passing and in the closing stages dropped off dramatically as his tyres faded as fast as the light.
Massa moved up to third with all the drama to finish ahead of Schumacher, who recorded his second good result in a row. Robert Kubica took advantage of the two Williams drivers' tyre wear, as Nico Hulkenberg had to pit for another set of intermediates and Rubens Barrichello had a small spin.
Tonio Liuzzi also made up a place on Barrichello to finish a season's best sixth place. The Williams driver finished in seventh ahead of the two Saubers of Kamui Kobayashi and Nick Heidfeld in eighth and ninth. Nico Hulkenberg rounded off the points positions in tenth, while Jenson Button finished 12th.
Button's title chances are now all but over and he complained of a complete and utter lack of grip. He later said that he would continue to fight until it became mathematically impossible to take the championship, despite being 42 points behind.