SEBASTIAN Vettel looks set to switch his Red Bull overalls for a different kind of red – that of Ferrari.
The 25-year-old is believed to have signed a pre-contract agreement with the Maranello squad for 2014, having been given the thumbs up from team leader Fernando Alonso, who lost his championship lead to Vettel at the weekend.
It has been one of the paddock’s worst kept secrets: Vettel has long since stated his desire to race for the Prancing Horse at some point during his career, and Ferrari have publicly expressed their interest in the two-time world champion.
But with Mark Webber only signing a one-year contract to keep him until the end of next season, Red Bull boss Christian Horner could be forced into looking for two new drivers to race the RB10 in 2014.
The German took over the F1 championship lead in dominant style, leading every lap from beginning to end and guiding team-mate Mark Webber for Red Bull’s first 1-2 finish of the season.
Vettel’s third race win in a row has seen him overtake Alonso in the driver’s championship standings, moving six points clear at the top of the pile with four races remaining.
There was little drama for either of the Tilbrook-built cars to deal with around the Yeongam circuit. There were concerns of excessive tyre wear towards the end of the 55-lap race, but deciding to cut their pace dramatically in the late stages didn’t affect their progress as they cruised home ahead of the Ferrari pair of Alonso and Felipe Massa.
“I think it was a perfect day for me and the team,” said Vettel afterwards. “It was important to get a good start.
“I was able to out-accelerate Mark and get side by side, I had the inside for Turn 3 and a good exit, which meant I could stay ahead for Turn 4. I was in the lead, but we have seen before that it doesn’t always stick.
“My one mistake today was a lock-up going in to Turn 3, but with the tyres it was marginal for everyone. You couldn’t push so much and my front right didn’t look too happy from the inside many times. We were able to pull away in the first and second stint and hold it for the third.
“We will have to do our best to remain where we are now. We have to just keep it simple and do our job.”
Webber was left pondering what might have been as he failed to keep hold of the lead despite landing pole position on Saturday, losing out to Vettel off the start line.
He said: “I had a bit too much clutch off the line, which was disappointing. I put up a fight on the back straight with Sebastian, as it wasn’t all over. I tried to make a move, but once I pulled out of his slipstream, both of us were on the same speed.
“After that I was going quite well in the first part of the race. I couldn’t use DRS, due to the yellow flags and after that it became a tyre battle.
“The second stint wasn’t so good, as I went a bit slower to conserve the tyres, but that made the degradation a bit worse. The last stint was the strongest, but it was too late by then.
“Congratulations to Sebastian on the win and it’s great for the team that we got a 1-2, especially for the constructors’, but I have mixed emotions. It was a good result, but of course, I wanted to get the top result.”
With McLaren pairing Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button struggling in South Korea, Ferrari leap-frog them in the constructors’ championship, but Red Bull’s lead now stands at 77 points.