Sebastian Vettel followed up his Championship victory with his tenth race win of the season in Korea as Red Bull secured the Constructors' crown
Despite starting second and being beaten by pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton off the line, Vettel made the most of a drop of rain to take the lead off the McLaren when he slipped up at Turn 4.
From there it was all Vettel, who slowly but surely built up a lead. And even when the Safety Car came out after Vitaly Petrov took out Michael Schumacher, no one could challenge the Red Bull driver.
There were a few spots of rain falling in Yeongam as the cars formed up on the grid. A small amount of light drizzle was forecast, but it wasn't predicted to last long. The ambient temperature was 21C and the track at 24C.
Six Rows of Grid : 1.Hamilton, 2.Vettel, 3.Button, 4.Webber, 5.Massa, 6.Alonso, 7.Rosberg, 8.Petrov, 9.DiResta, 10.Sutil, 11.Alguersuari, 12.Schumacher.
Start: There were fears that the dirty side of the grid would give dreadful starts to the even numbers on the grid, but as the red lights went out it was a fairly uniform getaway.
Lewis Hamilton led away and although Jenson Button got alongside Sebastian Vettel into Turn 1, the World Champion had the inside line. With a strong headwind down the 1.1km straight the effect of giving other cars a tow was emphasized despite no DRS.
Hamilton went defensive into Turn 3 and kept Vettel at bay, Felipe Massa was in P5 going into Turn 3 but judged his braking to perfection and passed Webber in P4 and a surprised Jenson Button in P3. Massa, Button and Webber ran in a gaggle to Turn 4 where Button tried an ineffective pass on Massa round the outside - Webber who had dropped back to allow Button room in the straight down to Turn 4 then saw his generosity rewarded by Felipe and Jenson running wide and he nipped through for P3.
Alonso also made his way past Button and slotted in behind Massa, demoting the Brit to P6 as Nico Rosberg made a late-braking move around the outside of Turn 4 that never looked like coming off.
Meanwhile there had been a change of leader at the same corner. Sebastian Vettel had saved his KERS up for the run down from Turn 3 to Turn 4. Lewis Hamilton was very fair and allowed him room but couldn't defend once the Red Bull was up the inside.
Positions after Lap 1
1.Vettel, 2.Hamilton, 3.Webber, 4.Massa 5.Alonso, 6.Button, 7.Rosberg, 8.Petrov, 9.DiResta, 10.Schumacher, 11.Sutil, 12.Alguersuari
At the front of the race Sebastian Vettel started to steadily open up a gap to Lewis Hamilton and by Lap 8 it was 2.3 seconds. Webber pulled away from Felipe Massa and it was team-mate Fernando Alonso who couldn't get past the Brazilian, which allowed Jenson Button and then Nico Rosberg to close up on the two Ferraris.
By Lap 11 Button was looking at Alonso into Turn 4 - but thinking better of it. On Lap 13 Alonso tried to find a way past Massa into Turn 4. When Felipe started to defend his place it became clear that there were no Ferrari team orders. Button couldn't get past Alonso as the Spaniard had his DRS enabled following Massa and the same for Rosberg.
So on Lap 13 both Rosberg and Button headed for the pits. Rosberg got the jump on Button and they ran side by side in the pitlane - with Nico slightly ahead - until the exit when Rosberg ran wide and Button nipped past. Because it was the DRS straight that followed Rosberg was able to use the rear wing to pass Button into Turn 3 - but a lap later Button was able to get him back using his DRS and place a Force India between himself and the Mercedes to establish a gap.
The rest of the front runners pitted on Laps 14 and 15, (and Vettel on Lap 16) but a slight delay for Fernando Alonso put him behind Michael Schumacher. Schumacher was lining up Perez (yet to stop) inTurn 3 when Petrov missed his braking point and went sailing into the back of him.
The Russian driver was defending from Alonso on the long straight and took the inside (dirty) line as he went to brake into Turn 3. Alonso switched to the outside to get the place back and left his braking far too late - Petrov with his eyes on Alonso, took Schumacher's rear wing off and almost ploughed into Alonso, who was deep in the tarmac run-off.
The Safety Car was dispatched so the large amount of debris could be cleared up. As the cars lined up behind the positions were now...
Positions after Lap 17
1.Vettel, 2.Hamilton, 3.Webber, 4.Button, 5.Rosberg, 6.Massa, 7.Alonso, 8.Alguersuari, 9.DiResta, 10.Sutil, 11.Maldonado, 12.Buemi
In the middle stint Mark Webber had been given the yellow-walled soft Prime tyres and behind him Jenson Button had the (theoretically quicker) supersofts. As Vettel led another confident restart on Lap 21 Button tried a move on Webber around the outside of Turn 4 which never looked like coming off and didn't. That was as close as Jenson would get to Webber till the end of the race.
After the restart Vettel didn't seem to be producing the gaps he had done in the first stint and by Lap 26 the gap to Hamilton was just 1.0 seconds. Meanwhile, Webber was closing on P2 Hamilton. Behind them, Nico Rosberg was coming under big pressure from the two Ferrari drivers. Finally on Lap 27 the Mercedes driver had an enormous lock-up just before Turn 3 and Massa was able to dart past, followed rapidly by Alonso. Rosberg pitted for more tyres.
At the front it was now a similar three-car battle with 2.0 seconds covering the first three cars on Lap 28. But as Webber got close to Lewis Hamilton and dropped into the DRS, so Hamilton had to stop driving for speed and adopt defensive tactics as he couldn't get quite close enough to use his DRS against Vettel.
There then followed an extraordinary display of good defensive driving from Lewis Hamilton who set his car up so that he would use all his KERS immediately after the DRS zone to give him the boost to keep in front of Webber into Turn 3. The McLarens were both understeering horribly and this was evident in the final sector and the final fast left. Webber was usually 0.4 to 0.6 quicker through this twenty second section alone, which pulled him clear from Jenson Button who couldn't deploy DRS.
At the end of Lap33 Red Bull decided to bring Mark in to use his speed advantage, but found Hamilton arriving in the pitlane as well. Both took on a set of soft tyres. The following lap was an epic of side-by-side manoeuvres as Hamilton did the difficult bit and kept a gap through Turn 3 then ran wide in Turn 4. Webber dived up the inside of Turn 5 and looked to be past, but Hamilton wasn't finished and cut back to take the line that he would hold through the next series of turns and eventually finish back in front of the Red Bull. Epic stuff.
Massa pitted earlier than Alonso (Lap 34) and Fernando used the opportunity to start putting in fastest laps of the race on Laps 35 and 36 and then pitted for tyres to exit in front of Massa. Released from his team-mate he started to drive what he would later describe as "qualifying lap after qualifying lap" to catch Jenson Button
Positions after Lap 38
1.Vettel, 2.Hamilton, 3.Webber, 4.Button, 5. Alonso, 6.Massa, 7.Rosberg, 8.Alguersuari, 9.DiResta, 10.Buemi, 11.Sutil, 12.Perez
By this time Vettel had an almost ten second gap to Hamilton and would not be caught. Hamilton continued to manage his lap with the sole aim to keep Webber behind. While Alonso homed in on Jenson Button, Webber calculated where he could get past Hamilton.
On Lap 49 the cars had to pass a backmarker and the Red Bull had a lot more momentum down the start/finish straight. Webber jinked out and took Hamilton at Turn 1, but the Mclaren dirver wasn't phased. He had KERS stored up for his usual defence into Turn 3 and going back down the straight breezed past the Red Bull again courtesy of the DRS + KERS.
Hamilton had been saving fuel and tyres till the end of the race and in the closing laps both drivers switched the mix on their fuels. On the penultimate lap Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race and his defence was complete.
Behind them Alonso closed up to Button and by Lap 51 (of 55) he was just 0.7 back. But a couple of laps later Alonso had a scarey moment coming through the fast final corner and flirted with the barrier and called time on his chase with the dramatic radio message, "I give up, I give up." He sounded very frustrated.
Despite a warning to Vettel not to abuse his tyres, the World Champion decided to go for the Fastest lap on his final circuit and took it with a 1:39.605, almost a second quicker than Hamilton the lap before. It showed how much Red Bull had in reserve.
Beyond the Hamilton vs Webber and the Button vs Alonso battles, Nico Rosberg failed to hang onto 7th place from a hard charging Jaime Alguersuari who benefited from Rosberg's early stop to change flatspotted tyres and who was fast running out of grip.
Vettel won from a marginally happier (than Saturday) Hamilton and a poker-faced Mark Webber to claim Red Bull's second successive Constructors' crown. Button came home in P4 and reckoned he wouldn't have done any better even if he hadn't been mugged at the start. Alonso and Massa came home 5th and 6th, with Alguersuari 7th, Rosberg 8th, Buemi 9th and Paul diResta 10th.
The predicted four or five tyre stops had ultimately turned out to be two tyre stops, but it had been another engaging race even if many of the grandstands remained half empty.
01. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h30:01.994
02. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 12.019
03. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 12.477
04. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 14.694
05. Alonso Ferrari + 15.689
06. Massa Ferrari + 25.133
07. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 49.538
08. Rosberg Mercedes + 54.053
09. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:02.762
10. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1:08.602
11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1:11.229
12. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1:33.068
13. Senna Renault + 1 lap
14. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault + 1 lap
15. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
16. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
17. Trulli Lotus-Renault + 1 lap
18. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 1 lap
19. Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth + 1 lap
20. D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth + 1 lap
21. Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
Did Not Finish
Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 31
Petrov Renault 17
Schumacher Mercedes 16
Any reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of 365 Media Group is strictly forbidden.