Titleholder Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull took the lead in the Formula 1 drivers’ championship after cruising to a confident victory in the South Korean Grand Prix.
Another Red Bull racer, Mark Webber, took second, while former leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari rounded out the podium in third.
Vettel took the lead after the opening corner of the Korea International Circuit in Yeongam, passing pole holder Webber. It’s hard to judge whether the German proved a better starter, or if it was a shrewd team strategy by Red Bull.
Meanwhile, Jenson Button didn’t make it through the first lap, colliding with Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi. The crash deprived the McLaren driver of his last shot at the title.
Alonso established his third-place position after the first few laps, with no changes in the leading trio till the checkered flag.
Ferrari’s Felipe Massa outran the Spaniard in the final leg of the race, but the Red Bull team's strategy prevented him from passing.
"The start was very important," Vettel is cited as saying by Reuters. "We started from the dirty side," said Vettel. "I had a very good launch and could see that Mark was struggling a little bit. I was able to get side by side and then had the inside into turn one."
"It was a perfect start for myself," he added.
Despite loosing the championship lead, Alonso didn't sound too dissapointed with his third-place finish.
"I think we have to be happy with the performance today," he said. "We are moving in the right direction. We just need a little last step to be as competitive as Red Bull."
Russian racer Vitaly Petrov achieved a mini-win of his own on the day. Petrov finished in 16th, but managed to outrace his Caterham teammate, Heikki Kovalainen.
Vettel's third consecutive GP victory entrenched his position at the top of the drivers’ standings, with 215 points in the bag.
His only rival for the title, Alonso, is six points behind; four races remain in the calendar.