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F1 News: Sebastian Vettel, F1 Grand Prix of Korea

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Final report: Sebastian Vettel made the perfect start to the Korean Grand Prix as he got the jump on Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber to lead, but Jenson Button was an early retirement in Yeongam.

Vettel knew a win this weekend would move him ahead of Fernando Alonso at the top of the drivers' championship, and he made light of starting from the dirty side of the grid to beat pole man Webber to the first corner.

Behind the Red Bulls there was a fierce battle between Lewis Hamilton, Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Felipe Massa into turn three after the long drag from turn two.

And it was the Spaniard who gained a place on Hamilton with Massa doing likewise to Raikkonen in a good start for Ferrari.

As the quartet sorted themselves out, Button was already done for the day.

After starting 11th the McLaren driver and the equally unfortunate Mercedes of Nico Rosberg were hit by the wayward Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, who was punished with a drive-through penalty, and forced to retire.

At the end of lap eight Vettel led Webber by 1.8 seconds with Alonso, Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen next up.

Nico Hulkenberg, Romain Grosjean, who had kept out of trouble on this occasion, Sergio Perez and Michael Schumacher rounded out the top 10.

Webber initially pegged the deficit to his team-mate at around the two-second mark, but he had no answer when Vettel produced consecutive fastest laps to suddenly stretch out a 3.3secs advantage.

Further back Daniel Ricciardo made a brilliant start to go from 21st to 13th in his Toro Rosso, while Paul Di Resta was enjoying a dice with Schumacher for 10th.

Hamilton was the first of the front-runners to pit on lap 13, McLaren getting him under way in 3.0s having switched from the super-soft to the soft compound of Pirellis.

Webber, Massa and Raikkonen were in a lap later with Vettel and Alonso completing the cycle on lap 15, with all mirroring Hamilton's tyre choice.

Perez had climbed to fourth as a result of having not made a stop, but soon lost out to Hamilton, Massa and Raikkonen's fresher rubber.

The Mexican finally pitted on lap 18, dropping to 13th, just after team-mate Kobayashi had pulled into the pits and retired.

At the front Vettel continued to stretch away with ease, leading by 6.3 from Webber with Alonso third.

Hamilton had complained of graining on his tyres after his stop, and the problem allowed Massa to close and relieve him of fourth place into turn three with the help of DRS.

Hamilton was as much as two seconds a lap slower than the rest of the top six, and looked set to slip back a place when Raikkonen blasted past him with the aid of DRS, only for the Briton to bravely strike back under braking for turn four.

Ahead, Alonso was slowly eating into Webber's advantage and the Ferrari man had the gap down to 1.4 seconds after 25 laps.

Hamilton gave up the uneven struggle with his troublesome tyres and stopped for a second time on lap 26, but was not helped by a sticking wheelnut on the right-front.

Vettel was serene at the head of the pack, with his lead over his team-mate now up to 8.5 seconds as the race passed half-distance.

Alonso was third from Massa, Raikkonen, Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Hamilton and the impressive Toro Rossos of Ricciardo and Jean-Eric Vergne completing the top 10.

Grosjean and Hulkenberg had enjoyed a race-long battle, and the Frenchman finally came out on top after their second stops, making a good move in the DRS zone.

Webber was in again on lap 32, with Alonso, who had been chipping away at the gap to the Red Bulls, pitting a lap later.

Vettel, who looked to be struggling with tyre degradation, had a wild moment at turn three as he locked up, and Red Bull quickly made the decision to bring him in, with Massa and Raikkonen following his lead.

Vettel's struggles during the latter stages of his second stint meant Webber was within 5.3 seconds, with Alonso having fallen 4.5 seconds back of the Australian.

But Vettel quickly re-asserted his authority with a lap 1.5 seconds better than his team-mate and the advantage was soon back up to 8.5 seconds.

Massa and Raikkonen maintained fourth and fifth places, ahead of Hamilton. Grosjean was running seventh ahead of Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Vergne.

Hamilton's tyre woes had returned and it became apparent he would need to make an extra stop.

He desperately tried to keep Grosjean and Hulkenberg at bay, but eventually had to give way to the Force India as the German pounced around the outside at turn four, after Hamilton had run Grosjean out of road at turn three

Massa, meanwhile, had been told to slow up in order to give team-mate Alonso some breathing space as he kept pace with the third-placed Spaniard.

Hamilton pitted again on lap 42 for the super-soft tyre and resumed down in 10th place.

Vettel was advised to cool his pace with eight laps to go as the drivers struggled with heavy wear on their right-front tyres.

A further warning was issued to the German with five laps to go while Hamilton's woes were compounded as he picked up a loose strip of Astroturf under his McLaren which slowed his pace.

Vettel came through to take the win by 6.8 seconds from Webber with Alonso a solid third for Ferrari as Massa underlined his recent improvement with fourth.

Raikkonen was fifth ahead of Hulkenberg, Grosjean, Vergne, Ricciardo and a disgruntled Hamilton.


Click here for LIVE updates via ESPNSTAR.com's Petronas Race Centre

Check local listings for STAR Sports' coverage of this weekend's race in Yeongam

A look at the Yeongam Circuit

Driver's and constructor's standings

Esteemed Formula 1 commentator Steve Slater previews the action.


Here are some of the major stories leading up to Sunday's Korean Grand Prix:

Felipe Massa has warned Romain Grosjean to adopt a careful approach to the first lap of the Korean Grand Prix as the he looks to avoid becoming the Frenchman's latest victim.

Mercedes have been fined 10,000 euros for their unsafe release of Michael Schumacher during qualifying for the Korean Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen is confident of remaining with Lotus, despite not yet having a deal for 2013.

McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh hopes Mark Webber's pole position can help Lewis Hamilton's title aspirations during Sunday's Korean Grand Prix.

Lewis Hamilton is feeling dejected with his title hopes looking increasingly slim after a difficult day in Korea.

Jenson Button is fully focused on securing the constructors' championship for McLaren with his individual hopes of glory all but over.

Michael Schumacher suffered the ignominy of being reprimanded by the stewards for impeding the two HRTs during second practice for the Korean Grand Prix.

Kimi Raikkonen insists he does not care about his lack of pace in Korean Grand Prix practice and expects Lotus to take a big step forward as the weekend progresses.

Ferrari team manager Massimo Rivola is confident the team will be "very, very competitive" in Korea as they look to fight back in the race for the title.

Kamui Kobayashi admits he is disillusioned with the current trend of drivers securing Formula One seats through their sponsorship links.

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso are refusing to write off Lewis Hamilton's chances of snatching the world title from their respective grasps.


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