F1: Brazilian Grand Prix Review
Wow. I think that pretty much sums up what we witnessed on Sunday, a fitting end to an absolutely remarkable season. The last three races; Abu Dhabi, Austin and Brazil have given us such a fantastic end to the championship and cemented 2012 as one of the best ever seasons.
So much went on during the race that it would be impossible to both remember and describe it all in a short review. I am still not sure that the TV cameras picked up all the action and it seemed to take 10-15 minutes before they actually had the graphics correct with so much happening. By the end of lap one, I don’t think I was alone in thinking that the championship was done and dusted with Alonso already into third place and Vettel recovering from contact at the back of the pack with damage to his car. The whole weekend had been centred on rain and many thought that Alonso would need it to become champion. I’m not sure anyone would have guessed that it would actually be the rain which would help Vettel and hinder Alonso. With the track still pretty much dry, Alonso’s trademark brilliant start had hoisted him up into the podium positions and Vettel was in a damaged car, limiting his speed down the straights even further which would have made overtaking extremely difficult. From this position, with a dry track it would have been a mammoth task for Vettel to make it up to a ninth place finish but the rain came and with it the effect of the damage that Vettel had suffered was diminished; coupled with cars sliding around the track and performing multiple pit stops it wasn’t long before Vettel made it into the points scoring positions but anything could still happen.
At the front, Button and Hulkenberg were able to stay on slicks the longest and had pulled out a forty second gap to Hamilton who had pitted for intermediates, then pitted again for slicks once the rain had stopped. A safety car closed that gap right up and shortly after the restart; with the track getting drier, Hamilton was able to pass both Button and Hulkenberg to retake the lead. Alonso was down in fourth biding his time as he did not have to pace to keep up. With rain once again coming down, Hulkenberg seemed to be able to find that little bit extra and closed up on Hamilton who was fighting his way through traffic to make a pass down the inside; there were so many cars trying to get round the corner at the same time that a collision looked inevitable and Hulkenberg lost the rear, colliding with the McLaren which ended Hamilton’s race. The stewards took a dim view of this and gave Hulkenberg a drive through penalty, promoting Alonso to second in the race with Button clear out front. With Alonso in second, Vettel had to finish 7th or higher and was already sitting in 7th. Vettel’s good friend Michael Schumacher was ahead of him and let him pass which put Vettel into 6th. Mark Webber was also running 4th so could drop back and put Vettel into 5th if required so there were only two ways Alonso could win; Jenson Button or Sebastian Vettel facing a problem. With only a few laps remaining, there was still a feeling that anything could happen and unfortunately it did for Paul di Resta who crashed into the wall forcing a safety car to lead Button until the end of the race.
So there we have it, after a huge scare on lap one of the Brazilian Grand Prix Sebastian Vettel did enough to become the youngest three time world champion in F1 history and joined an exclusive club by winning three in a row which includes Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and German Michael Schumacher. Here is how the race finished:
1. Jenson Button
2. Fernando Alonso
3. Felipe Massa
4. Mark Webber
5. Nico Hulkenberg
6. Sebastian Vettel
7. Michael Schumacher
8. Jean-Eric Vergne
9. Kamui Kobayashi
10. Kimi Räikkönen
Jenson Button finished off the season as he started with a win and it was a shame that Lewis Hamilton was not on the podium with him for their last race as teammates. When you have a race as exciting as that I don’t think anyone really cares about predictions although I did pick four of the top five drivers. Nico Hulkenberg managed 5th but I am sure he will be disappointed as his mistake cost him at least a podium and possibly even a win.
The margin between Vettel and Alonso was only three points in the Drivers’ championship which is quite remarkable given the lack of pace Ferrari have shown in the dry. It was a great battle all the way to the wire and one which is sure to continue next season.
A special mention goes out to Vitaly Petrov as his 11th place finish for Caterham secured 10th in the Constructors’ championship which includes a substantial stack of cash!
Make sure you check back later in the week for our end of season review and round up of all the teams and confirmed driver line-ups for the 2013 season.