Formula One: Vettel plays it cool

New championship leader Sebastian Vettel played it cool Sunday in claiming victory at the Korean Grand Prix, even as his increasingly frantic Red Bull team pleaded with him to "look after" his tyres.

The reigning world champion took the lead at the first corner at Yeongam and never looked back, the imperious victory catapulting him over Fernando Alonso to the top of the drivers' standings with four races to go.

However, there appeared to be anxious moments in the pit lane at the deteriorating state of his front tyres. At one point he was told over the radio: "Sorry to go on here... you won't know when it's too late."

Vettel said tyre management had been vital.

"I think a lot of people suffered issues with the front today so the last stint I tried to control a little bit more and I had more juice in the tyre until the end," he said.

"Obviously we had the gap and were controlling that towards the end, but I think once you reach the point where the front tyres are gone, it's sudden death, so there's no point of return.

"We were talking a lot over the radio, trying to stay on top of the problem and manage the front tyres quite well, which I think we did until the end."

So how serious was the problem? "I felt I had a bit more in the tyres and I could've gone on a bit longer," he said.

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