SEOUL — Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel took a dominant victory in the Korean Grand Prix to take the world championship lead from Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
Vettel’s victory was his third in a row and it makes him the first driver to win four races this season. Team-mate Mark Webber was second ahead of Alonso.
Vettel has a six-point lead over the Spaniard with four races to go.
Lewis Hamilton’s title hopes are effectively over after his McLaren struggled to 10th.
Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen took fifth, stretching his lead over Hamilton in third place in the championship, but Vettel has a 48-point lead over Raikkonen and a further 14 over Hamilton with only 100 points still available in the remaining races in India, Abu Dhabi, the United States and Brazil.
Vettel’s second crushing victory within a week — along with Webber’s comfortable second place — confirms the impression that Red Bull have made a significant step forward with their car and that the German is on course for a third consecutive title.
“Fantastic. I’m very happy,” said Vettel. “I tried hard to push, Mark was always on my toes. We had two brilliant pit stops.
“The only mistake I had was I locked up the front right on the way in. Fortunately I had a good lead and I could control the gaps. We were a little bit worried about the tyres because there has been a lot of locking.
“The guys have been flat out, not much break between Japan and here we have done another step on the car, and hopefully we can carry that through to the next races.”
Ferrari were comfortably clear of the rest, with Massa taking fourth place close behind Alonso in the Brazilian’s most competitive performance of the season. He is expected to be confirmed at the team for 2013 in the forthcoming days.
“We have to be happy with the performance today,” said Alonso. “We were third and fourth just behind Red Bull who at the moment are difficult to beat.
“We overtook McLaren in the constructors’ championship, which we didn’t expect. So we are moving in the right direction. We just need a little step to compete with Red Bull and it’s going to be a beautiful last four races.”
But they could do nothing about the Red Bulls ahead as Vettel, from second position on the grid behind Webber, moved into the lead on the run down to the first corner and never looked back, only briefly losing the lead during the first pit stops.