2012 Korean Grand Prix Preview – Prancing Horse vs Red Bull

October 11, 2012 11:55 am

Formula One is no place for the faint-hearted…less than a week after the flag fell on the Japanese Grand Prix we are racing once again at the Yeongam circuit in South Korea.

Sebastian Vettel has an affinity with this circuit having dominated here in 2011, and will be hoping for a repeat performance in order to wrest the championship points lead from rival Fernando Alonso.

Ferrari, for their part, will be going all out to ensure Alonso bounces back from his disastrous weekend in Suzuka last time out.

Can Sebastian Vettel make it three wins in a row?

The Yeongam track debuted in 2010 and the race was a deluge, with Alonso snatching victory after Vettel retired from the lead with an engine failure. Two years on, the roles are reversed and Vettel is the man with the momentum hunting down the prancing horse of the Scuderia. Alonso can take comfort from the fact that the Ferrari F2012 was a solid car in race trim as shown by teammate Felipe Massa in Japan, despite their disappointing qualifying pace. Should he have a clean race, Alonso can be certain of good points, and possibly a podium should Red Bull or Mclaren falter.

Mclaren, for their part, were worryingly off the pace in Japan despite belief they would be the team to beat; Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button could only manage 5th and 4th places respectively even though the team had been the dominant force since late July. Button named Alonso and Vettel as the favourites for the title recently and unless Mclaren sort out their woes for this weekend it will be unlikely that Hamilton can snatch the title from the grasp of Ferrari and Red Bull, while Button has had too much bad luck to be a factor in the title fight. They have high hopes of claiming the constructor’s championship however, being within touching distance of Red Bull after Mark Webber suffered a disappointing race in Japan to scrape only two points.

Away from the sharp end of the grid, there are several further intriguing battles being waged, most notably the three-way battle between Lotus, Mercedes and Sauber for 4th place in the intra-team battle. Lotus currently hold the high ground following Mercedes slump in form over recent events, but Kamui Kobayashi’s 3rd place for Sauber in Japan has boosted them to within 20 points of the Silver Arrows team. Williams benefited from a reformed Pastor Maldonado in Japan when he scooped a handful of precious points, but their chances of climbing further in the championship table remain slim at best. They are locked in combat with the Force India team, who also scored crucial points at the last race courtesy of young German Nico Hulkenberg.

Vettel must look strongest for victory as we head into the weekend, but as always, Fernando Alonso will not roll over and submit so long as he has even the remotest chance of victory. The Spaniard made his determination clear in an interview with the BBC earlier this week. ‘”I am sure we can be in the fight right down to the wire… Let’s not forget that, if I am still leading the championship, it’s because we have been capable of improving the car significantly compared to the start of the season and also because we are capable of always getting the most out of what we have to work with.’ Determined words indeed. Likewise Mark Webber, Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton will be gunning for their maiden Korean triumph, while the resurgent Felipe Massa will be hoping for his first win in four years. Maybe Kamui Kobayashi, fired up by his first ever podium in Japan, could take the first Formula One victory for a Japanese driver?

With battles raging all the way through the field, Korea could be a very important and pivotal race for many.

Anthony French

All sessions are available live on TV via both BBC and SkySportsF1HD, with BBC Radio5Live providing full radio coverage.

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