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James Allen's Korean GP verdict

James Allen's Korean GP verdict - Feature - F1 | ITV Sport

Sunday, 24 October 2010 14:09
I suggested to Fernando Alonso in the TV unilateral interviews after the race that today was a real “game changer” as far as the championship was concerned.

He batted it away, but his body language before the cameras were switched on and again in the Ferrari hospitality area later spoke volumes about what this result means to him.

This was payback for the difficult races in Valencia and Silverstone, where he had a competitive car but was caught out by safety cars, meaning that he took just four points.

That put him on the back foot, 47 points adrift of Mark Webber, but since then he’s scored 133 points from an impressive haul of four wins and two podiums from seven races.

Ferrari do need to keep their feet on the ground, as team principal Stefano Domenicali insists, because Webber and Sebastian Vettel’s mishaps today show how quickly the situation can change.

Alonso’s concern has to be reliability, particularly of the engine he must use for the final two races.

It is the unit he raced in Monza, so it’s done a bit of work already. The one in the car today had done Spa and Suzuka, so it was its last race. Brazil is a tough circuit on engines.

Lewis Hamilton seemed a bit dejected after the race.

He managed to steal second place from Alonso in the pit stops under the safety car, but lost it again by running wide at the restart soon after the stops.

He now trails Alonso by 21 points. If he had been able to stay ahead the difference would have been just seven points – which shows how big a swing can happen with a simple moment.

The McLaren lacked pace today, especially in the final sector of the lap; it was too stiff for the conditions and Hamilton’s intermediate tyres were bald at the end, while Alonso’s still had tread.

The first Korean Grand Prix was a real thriller – eventually.

It took an hour and 20 minutes to get the race going properly after heavy rain forced the race director Charlie Whiting to start it cautiously behind a safety car and then suspend it after just three laps.

An hour-long wait ensued, before the field trailed around behind the safety car again. Fourteen laps of shifting water and the drivers were ready to race.

It was the right decision to delay the start and they just managed to get the 55 laps in before it went dark.

It was well judged by Whiting, showing what a tricky job race directing is.

The Red Bull team are gutted tonight. Almost home and hosed in the constructors’ championship and with the front row locked out in qualifying, tonight they are under pressure from McLaren in the constructors’ and have lost control of the drivers’ standings.

Webber needs to win one of the last two races and finish ahead of Alonso in the other to win the title. That’s quite a different picture from before today’s race.

Meanwhile Vettel, who has been the faster Red Bull driver for the last three races, is the one with the slimmest chance of the title now, trailing Alonso by 25 points with 50 available.

He needs two wins to have a chance, with Alonso missing the podium at one of the races.

This weekend was also the most convincing showing by Michael Schumacher since his comeback.

He drove well all weekend on a track that everyone was learning for the first time.

He was particularly convincing in the wet conditions today as was his team-mate Nico Rosberg, who would have been on the podium if Webber hadn’t hit him.

Part of the reason for this is that Mercedes made a set-up change on the dummy grid after the aborted first start, putting a wet set-up on the car.

We now move on to Brazil, which should suit Red Bull. Webber won there last year quite convincingly. He’ll need to do that again to get himself back in the hunt for the showdown in Abu Dhabi.

It has been a great weekend. There was a lot of negativity about the race in the build-up, as the circuit was very behind schedule.

This was due to a typhoon and to the unscheduled extra drainage needed to dry out the marshland the track is built on.

The Korean organisers didn’t help themselves much by not communicating their situation, but once we all got here it’s been a pleasure.

It’s a fantastic track with great facilities, and we had a great race. Next year things will be calmer, I’m sure.
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