Following practice on Friday, Mercedes appeared to be the only team that stood any chance of beating Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull in Korea, but ultimately the Silver Arrows failed to threaten the German driver’s dominance on Sunday, crossing the line in fifth and seventh.
Lewis Hamilton suffered from aggressive tire wear throughout the race, spending the final eighteen laps of the race stuck behind Sauber’s Nico Hulkenberg.
“That was not a great day for us and it feels like we deserved more as a team,” Hamilton said after the race. “After Grosjean got ahead of me at the start, there was no way past and it seemed that we were losing out to other on traction cars all day. After the safety car, we were just losing out in traction to the Sauber.”
Hamilton did force his way past Hulkenberg on more than one occasion only for the German driver to recover the position thanks to the superior straight line speed of the Sauber.
“Our car was really strong through the middle sector but not quick enough on the straights to stay ahead,” Hamilton conceded. “It was a nice battle with Fernando [Alonso] but it’s hard to take when it’s only for P5 or P6. It was just not a good race for us today but we have the chance to bounce back in Suzuka.”
Nico Rosberg had been set to reach the podium at one point after passing Hamilton for third place, but a spectacular nose and front wing failure seconds later put paid to any hopes he may have had of scoring heavily.
“That was another very tough race for me,” Rosberg said. “I couldn’t believe what happened with the wing: I was on course for a podium finish after overtaking Lewis and two seconds later, the front wing just broke. It was pretty scary because that could have been a dangerous situation but the engineers told me over the radio that it was under control and I could carry some speed back to the pits.”
Eventually, Rosberg was forced to settle for seventh, but Mercedes did manage to cut the gap to Ferrari in the constructors’ championship to just one point.