Fernando Alonso took the championship lead in the first F1 race in Korea on this day in 2010 after Sebastian Vettel retired with an engine failure and Mark Webber crashed in very difficult conditions.

After Japanese GP in Suzuka, where Vettel celebrated in front of Webber and Alonso, the championship was quite open because Webber had 220 points and Alonso and Vettel had 206 points each.

A new race in the F1 calendar was held in South Korea, more precisely in the suburbs of Yeongam, with combination of slow speed corners, very long straight and challenging last few corners surrounded with walls.

The qualifying session was held in dry conditions and Vettel won another pole position, ninth in the season, 0.074 seconds ahead of Webber and 0.181 seconds ahead of Alonso. Interestingly, Vettel converted only three poles in 2010 to victories (Valencia, Japan and Abu Dhabi).

Korean GP F1 2020 qualifying top3 Vettel Webber Alonso Photo Ferrari
Vettel and Webber secured another front row for Red Bull, but Alonso wasn’t too far away in third (Photo: Red Bull)

The race was held in rainy conditions with very low visibility and started behind the safety car and stopped after three laps due to too much standing water on the track.

After a 45-minute break the race continued and the safety car pulled into the pitlane after  13 laps. Vettel kept the lead ahead of Webber and Alonso, but the safety car had to go back on track after the collision between Webber and Rosberg in the lap 19.

Korean GP F1 2010 race Alonso leads Hamilton Massa Button Photo Ferrari
First ever Korean GP was held in very difficult conditions on a new track in Yeongam  (Photo: Ferrari)

Vettel continued to lead, but Alonso lost position to Hamilton for slower pitstop during the third safety car period. But after the safety car pulled out in the pits once again, Hamilton went wide in the first corner and allowed Alonso to retake the lead.

The key moment of the race occurred in the lap 45 when Vettel had an engine failure and gave the lead to Alonso who eventually celebrated in front of Hamilton and Massa. Due to the numerous breaks and delays, the race ended in the dusk and in very bad visibility.

Alonso took the championship lead with 231 points, Webber had 220 points, Hamilton 210 and Vettel 206. Red Bull continued to lead the constructors’ championship with 426 points, ahead of McLaren (399) and Ferrari (374).

Korean GP F1 2010 podium Alonso Hamilton Massa Photo Ferrari
Korean GP F1 2010 podium – Alonso, Hamilton and Massa – Photo: Ferrari

“It’s a great feeling to win this way because the conditions were very difficult, especially at the start,” said Alonso.

“It was  worrying because I knew it would be a success to stay on the track. We had never drove in the rain here and we did not have any reference point. Webber’s retirement changed slightly our approach because podium would be enough without taking too much risk. ”

“The last laps were difficult because the track was almost dry and the tyres were quickly going away. I witnessed both Red Bull problems from very close up: in these situations you have to stay super-concetrated because you’re coming from a high speed corner and you have no time to think.”

“It’s clear that this helps our chances for the title, but luck proves that Formula 1 is not just about maths!  If you then think what happened in races such as Valencia and Silverstone, you can say that what goes around comes around. Now there are still 50 points up for grabs, Red Bull are still favorite, but we will continue to target the podium.”


1 8 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 55 2:48:20.810
2 2 Lewis Hamilton McLaren/Mercedes 55 2:48:35.809 14.999
3 7 Felipe Massa Ferrari 55 2:48:51.678 30.868
4 3 M.Schumacher Mercedes 55 2:49:00.498 39.688
5 11 Robert Kubica Renault 55 2:49:08.544 47.734
6 15 Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India/Mercedes 55 2:49:14.381 53.571
7 9 R.Barrichello Williams/Cosworth 55 2:49:30.067 1:09.257
8 23 Kamui Kobayashi BMW Sauber/Ferrari 55 2:49:38.699 1:17.889
9 22 Nick Heidfeld BMW Sauber/Ferrari 55 2:49:40.917 1:20.107
10 10 Nico Hülkenberg Williams/Cosworth 55 2:49:41.661 1:20.851
11 17 J.Alguersuari Toro Rosso/Ferrari 55 2:49:44.956 1:24.146
12 1 Jenson Button McLaren/Mercedes 55 2:49:50.749 1:29.939
13 19 H.Kovalainen Lotus/Cosworth 54 2:49:27.567 1 lap
14 21 Bruno Senna HRT/Cosworth 53 2:48:30.504 2 laps
15 20 Sakon Yamamoto HRT/Cosworth 53 2:48:47.837 2 laps
(10) 14 Adrian Sutil Force India/Mercedes 46 2:32:16.449 Crash
(1) 5 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull/Renault 45 2:29:40.709 Engine
(7) 12 Vitaly Petrov Renault 39 2:18:51.371 Spun off
(16) 24 Timo Glock Virgin/Cosworth 31 2:02:44.467 Crash
(13) 16 Sébastien Buemi Toro Rosso/Ferrari 30 2:00:28.773 Crash
(20) 25 Lucas di Grassi Virgin/Cosworth 25 1:50:42.103 Spun off
(22) 18 Jarno Trulli Lotus/Cosworth 25 1:53:15.556 Hydraulics
(2) 6 Mark Webber Red Bull/Renault 18 1:34:32.943 Spun off
(4) 4 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 18 1:34:35.430 Crash
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