The Spaniard coped best with torrential conditions in the first ever race at the new Yeongam circuit, taking the chequered flag while Red Bull title rivals Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel both failed to finish.
Alonso’s third win in four races lifted him to the top of the drivers’ standings, with two grands prix remaining, and means he could clinch the championship next time out in Brazil, as he did in 2005 and 2006. The 29-year-old has timed his surge to perfection, with his fellow title hopefuls now desperate for a victory to revitalise their ambitions, but he is quick to point out his fortunes could change in one race.
“We know with the new points system everything can change in one race – if you don’t score, you lose 25 points to your opponents,” said Alonso.
“Here it was bad luck for Mark and Sebastian. Anything can happen in the next two races. As we repeat many times, being consistent is very important, we can’t forget we need to be on the podium and fighting for victory in the last two races.”
Rain wreaked havoc on the start of the race, delaying it by 10 minutes and then causing officials to call a halt after just three laps. Almost an hour later the action restarted behind the safety car, and after 13 more laps racing finally began in earnest. Webber soon succumbed on the treacherous surface, the Australian clipping the kerb before spinning out and bouncing back across the tarmac. Alonso narrowly avoided a collision, but Nico Rosberg was not so lucky.
Alonso passed Vettel as the German’s engine failed with nine laps to go, delivering a potentially fatal blow to his world title hopes. Lewis Hamilton took a priceless second place to keep his dream alive, but defending champion Jenson Button could only manage 12th and now needs a miracle.
STANDINGS | CHAMPIONSHIP
1. Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) 231
2. Mark Webber (Red Bull) 220
3. Lewis Hamilton (McLaren) 210
4. Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) 206
5. Jenson Button (McLaren) 189