A fourth win of the season for Sebastian Vettel in Korea has moved him into the World Championship lead and given him the momentum he needs to clinch his third title.
Vettel has now gained 75 points from the last three races, with Korea following his earlier successes in Singapore and Japan.
Crucially the German relieved team mate pole man Mark Webber of the lead on the first lap, and never looked back, despite some serious concerns over the right front tyre in the latter stages of the race.
“Obviously now we can say that the start was very important,” said Vettel. “In my case obviously we started from the dirty side. I think the right side generally we saw last year, usually is a bit better but I had a very good launch and yeah, could see that Mark was struggling a little bit in the first bit of the start and I was able to get side-by-side and obviously then had the inside into Turn One, which was very good for us.
“But it wasn’t over at that stage because there’s still a long straight, and quite a big headwind all race from Turn Two to Turn Three. I could hear him coming, and obviously he was side-by-side, but fortunately I had the inside and after that I focussed on having a very good exit out of Turn Three, which fortunately I had and then I was able to stay ahead. I think it was then that Mark was side-by-side with Fernando, going into Turn Four.”
Vettel said that everything went to plan in the early stages of the race: “It was a perfect start for myself and after that a perfect first stint. I think towards the end I was able to pull away a little bit and open a gap to Mark which helped to stay out a little bit longer and I think after that we had a very good stop, a very strong second stint opening the gap again.
“Only at the end of the second stint I had a mistake, braking for Three, locking up the right front. I think a lot of people suffered issues with the front today so the last stint I tried to control a little bit more and I had more juice in the tyre until the end.
“Obviously we had the gap and were controlling that towards the end, but I think once you reach the point where the front tyres are gone, it’s sudden death, so there’s no point of return. We were talking a lot over the radio, trying to stay on top of the problem and manage the front tyres quite well, which I think we did until the end.
“I’m very happy with the result and have to say thanks again to the mechanics, the team, they have been working more than what we should ask them for. Every night, flat out, the whole team and I hope now they get a bit of a break, some sleep finally. But obviously it’s a nice reward to finish first and second today for the guys in the garage.”
As ever he remains cautious about his championship hopes.
“I think we can have a couple of drinks tonight before heading back. It’s difficult to predict the next couple of races. The first 1-2 this year, I think it shows how difficult the season has been for everyone. Ferrari was extremely competitive today, probably more competitive than everyone expected in the race. Both of them, Felipe I think was only a little bit off Fernando, so yeah, quick in the race, we know their car works in all circumstances, so we have to stay on top of our game, focus on ourselves and do what we can.
“We are pushing very hard but I think if you look at this season, it has been pretty much up and down and it was very good for us in the last couple of races, but we also know how little it takes to maybe end up in a different position in the Grand Prix. I think we can take nothing for granted, we have to look after ourselves.
“Whether we have a mental advantage or not, psychological advantage or not I don’t really care. I’m not into those kind of things. As I said, we look after ourselves. There’s a lot of things we have to focus on to do a perfect job and that is the target every weekend.”