F1 2012 Korean Grand Prix result: Hamilton 10th as Vettel wins
PUBLISHED: 08:52 14 October 2012 | UPDATED: 12:57 17 November 2012
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton could only finish tenth as Sebastian Vettel won the 2012 Korean Grand Prix.
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star from Hertfordshire struggled with his tyres and a rear suspension problem in Korea and dropped down the field on an unscheduled three-stopper after starting third on the grid.
Hamilton was challenging the Toro Rosso of Jean-Eric Vergne for ninth place with a couple of laps to go when he got some of the track’s Astroturf caught on the side of his car, further compromising his race after tyre worries on his second stint.
Reigning F1 world champion Vettel took the lead from Red Bull colleague Mark Webber at the first corner and then cruised to his third successive victory – and top of the drivers’ title standings with four races to go.
Webber crossed the line second to make it a dominant Red Bull one-two, with Fernando Alonso taking the third step on the podium for Ferrari.
Alonso’s Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa took fourth place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen’s Lotus, with Nico Hulkenberg sixth for Force India.
Romain Grosjean finished seventh for Lotus in the provisional results, with Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo also ahead of Hamilton’s stricken McLaren.
Hamilton had the two Toro Rossos in his sights until he picked up the Astroturf on one of the corner exits after running slightly wide.
The McLaren team told Lewis: “Watch out for the Astroturf on your right sidepod. It might get caught under the right rear tyre.”
Hamilton replied: “There’s a problem with the right rear.”
The pitwall response was: “It’s the Astroturf. Keep going, two more laps.”
He eventually crossed the line in 10th place with Sergio Perez’s Sauber hot on his tail for the closing lap.
The McLaren pitwall message to Hamilton was: “Great job, Lewis, well done! That was a difficult race and you managed the situation brilliantly.”
After the race, Hamilton blamed rear suspension failure in the opening laps of his second stint for his tyre wear issues.
Alonso had earlier jumped Hamilton for third place at the start, while McLaren driver Jenson Button was taken out of the race on the opening lap by Kamui Kobayashi, with Nico Rosberg also forced to retire after being hit.
After shaking off Raikkonen’s attentions, Hamilton was chasing Alonso for third place in the opening stint and a super-quick first stop at the Korean International Circuit looked to have made things tasty behind the leading Red Bull duo.
However, the Stevenage-born F1 racer was soon complaining about a potential problem with his McLaren and, as he slowed, he was overtaken by the Ferrari of Massa.
He was then involved in an epic battle with Raikkonen’s Lotus, first being overtaken and then claiming back the place, before making his second pitstop earlier than expected.
Down in sixth place, Hamilton said his car “was nervous”.
But the McLaren pitwall later told Lewis: “This driving is good. If you can make these tyres last until the end, P6 will be ours.”
After starting on the second row, it was hardly the news the 2008 F1 world champion was looking for.
And things got worse for a frustrated Hamilton as he lost a place to Hulkenberg while fending off Grosjean, and he then pitted for a third time after 42 laps.
He was told over the radio: “You will be racing people at the exit. Use KERS. This is the option tyre.
“You are P10 and there are 12 laps to go at the end of this lap. We can push on this set.”
More than a minute down on race leader Vettel, Hamilton finally found some speed and hunted down Vergne, who had also closed in on his Toro Rosso teammate Ricciardo in eighth place.
The pitwall informed Hamilton: “Both of the cars in front are struggling with their tyres. We’re racing both of them.”
However, picking up the Astroturf ruined Hamilton’s chances of collecting more than a solitary point from another disappointing grand prix for the McLaren team.