Our first foray into the fast and not-so-fast of the Korean Grand Prix starts at the sharp end of the grid – otherwise known as the Top Dogs.
- Sebastian Vettel: Quali – 2nd, Race – 1st
- Mark Webber: Quali – 4th, Race – 3rd
One race down as a newly crowned double world champ for Seb, another race win. At least he was nice enough to take his foot off the accelerator long enough for Lewis to sneak ahead in qualifying and let him lead a few corners. Reminded us of a cat playing with a mouse.
All joking aside, it was business as usual for the champ. The sequence is simple for him – front row, get the lead straight away, build up a gap to overcome DRS. Rinse. Repeat. It works every time – why can’t everyone else just copy? It gets boring after a while!
At least we had Webber, who doesn’t fail in producing some entertainment at races these days. The problem was he couldn’t pin a move on that pesky Lewis Hamilton, trying constantly at turn one, the only real chance on the track he had. And when he did pass, the DRS activation point was there for Lewis to take him right back. It led to some excitement, but it all felt a bit…false. Shame.
Badger’s Best: Vettel
- Lewis Hamilton: Quali – 1st, Race – 2nd
- Jenson Button: Quali – 3rd, Race – 4th
It was the return of the Lewis Hamilton we all fell in love with this weekend – but only in the cockpit. Coulthard summed it up nicely on Saturday morning, stating that Lewis had the bit between his teeth and was back on form. He was…but what was up with the mood afterwards?
The only theory we could come up with was the fact that getting pole meant it was only backwards from there, and with the press expecting blood every time he races now, who could blame him for feeling bit apprehensive? That might explain the soft yield of the race lead so early. Lewis wanted a solid points finish, a la Button, and got it through grit and determination. It got the smirk on the podium it deserved.
Speaking of which, Jenson wasn’t as dazzling as recent races. Losing out to the Ferraris and then Webber at the start hampered any chance of a podium, but was catching the Webber-Hamilton fight at the end and looked, dare we say it, stronger than Lewis on race pace. Remind us, whose team is McLaren again?
Badger’s Best: Hamilton
- Fernando Alonso: Quali – 6th, Race – 5th
- Felipe Massa: Quali – 5th, Race – 6th
The season of the Prancing Horse summed up in one quick phrase from Fernando; “I give up, I give up” Wait, you want more? OK.
There was a stint in the race when the Spaniard had the bit between his teeth and was very impressive indeed. Several laps at qualifying speed brought him into touching distance of the front runners. It was a testament to what ‘Nando still has up his sleeves. But it was chasing down 4th place, and he had spent much of the race behind his teammate. That’s the problem.
Massa outqualified, then outbraked, his team leader to run as high as third, but then convenient slow stops and releases in to traffic made him fall back. It was a good showing, but this time, he was slower than Alonso (he was!) so needed to move out the way for the team’s sake. Sorry Felipe, it’s the truth.
Badger’s Best: Alonso
- Sebastian Buemi: Quali – 13th, Race – 9th
- Jaime Alguersauri: Quali – 11th, Race – 7th
Check out the sister team. A stellar improvement on terms of raw speed means that failing to get to Q3 doesn’t mean the end of the world for the Italian minnows. To be honest, even missing Q2 hasn’t fazed them this year.
That’s the problem now though. Force India work hard and can count several appearances in the top 10 of the grid, but they have to sacrifice tyres to do so and then lose ground on Sunday. Toro Rosso have had two-thirds of a season to learn this, and it shows.
Alguersauri hassled the runners at the lower end of the top ten, and thanks to pitstops, ran as high as 3rd at one point. Taking Rosberg on the last lap was more down to low fuel for the German than pace, but it was just deserts. If the machinery gets better and better, why drop either of these two?
Badger’s Best: Alguersauri