The writing is on the wall. The 2012 WDC is now down to a two-horse race after the Korean Grand Prix. Vettel and Alonso are now the frontrunners and will battle it out in the final four races for the title. Raikkonen, Hamilton, Webber and Button are now trailing far behind in terms of points, wondering what could have been and knowing what will never be.
Red Bull has finally fine-tuned their car to outperform everyone else on the grid. So far it seems Ferrari has fallen short on matching the Red Bull's speed, and the same is true for McLaren despite starting the season with the best performing car (hat tip for looks too) but was barely a threat to Red Bull at the Korean GP.
Not only did Red Bull have a front row lock out with Webber on pole and Vettel starting in P2, Red Bull also followed through to the end of the GP, taking the top two spots on the podium with Vettel in P1 and a visibly-grumpy Webber in P2. Understandably, Webber wanted to convert his qualifying pole into a win, but a less-then-stellar start gave Vettel just enough of an opportunity to take P1 away from Webber, from which he never looked back.
Hamilton had a great position after qualifying to start at P3, however, Alonso saw the slightest of opening and pounced on Hamilton on the inside in Lap 1. That lead to the order of Vettel, Webber, then Alonso in the top three spots after the first lap. This order stayed for the remainder of the 55-lap race. The only noticeable difference is that Vettel kept increasing the leading gap as he lapped faster and faster with the help of a superbly well-balanced car and clean air.
Hamilton, on the other end, was not having a good day. After losing position to Alonso and pretty much everyone in the top 10 position, Hamilton fought hard but only achieved P10 and scored 1 point. It was not until after the race that we learn Hamilton's car had a rear suspension failure. Once again, McLaren did not deliver. Compound this with aggressive wear on right front tyres, and catching a piece of astro-turf as his race companion near the end of the race, it's easy to understand Hamilton's frustration.
Hamilton has watched his lead slip away if not by one thing then by another throughout the season. Hamilton even told interviewers that he is no longer in the hunt for the title indicating that both McLaren drivers have essentially given up the fight for the championship. One wonders what is going on inside the McLaren team? Is it time to say goodbye to McLaren Team Principal Martin Whitmarsh?
Speaking of goodbye, word on the grid is that Kobayashi may not have a drive at Sauber for 2013. Kobayashi, who sky-rocketed to national hero status after the Japanese GP last week, was driving clumsily at the start and took out both Button and Rosberg in one fell swoop. As a result, Kobayashi was given a drive-through penalty from the stewards and retired early at lap 16.
Vettel's win at the Yeongam Circuit puts him at 3rd consecutive win in the season and two-time winner of the Korean Grand Prix. Boy Wonder looks to be unstoppable now!
Up next, we'll be in New Delhi for the Indian Grand Prix on 10/26 - 10/28. Here's to another great race, and good battle between Vettel and Alonso. See you then!