Button wins and Vettel champion after epic Brazilian Grand Prix
25 November, 2012
Nov.25 (Reuters & Apex) Brazilian Formula One legend Nelson Piquet, charged with MC duties on the Interlagos podium, told Brazilian GP winner Jenson Button that he had just “witnessed the best F1 of his life” – and so it was as the 2012 season finale delivered one of the most dramatic races in memory, packed with incidents. The day saw Sebastian Vettel wrap up his third successive world title.
Button told the BBC, “I’m feeling great. But congratulations need to go to everyone who took part in that race, it was crazy. It wasn’t just about driving the car around – it just felt wrong out there – but I had a lot of fun. It’s a pity Lewis wasn’t there at the end though. It started to clear up and the pace lifted and then the rain came down and it was just about nursing the car until the end. I’m glad in a way the safety car came out.”
But really the day was all about the showdown between Red Bull’s Vettel and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso.
In the end, cutting through an afternoon charged with tension and unbelievable drama, Vettel became Formula One’s youngest triple world champion, at the age of 25, after a wet and wild Brazilian Grand Prix rollercoaster.
The German, who needed only a fourth place to be sure of becoming the first driver to win his first three titles consecutively, finished sixth after battling back from last spot on the opening lap.
It was enough, however, as his sole remaining drivers’s championship rival Fernando Alonso crossed the line in his Ferrari in second place with Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa third.
“You’re a triple world champion. You’re the man. You are a triple world champion,” shouted team principal Christian Horner over the team radio as Vettel crossed the finish line after what must have been one of the most nerve-racking races of his career.
Vettel ended the season with 281 points to 278 for Alonso, who would have been the youngest triple champion (at 31) had results gone his way on a day when the fickle Brazilian weather produced a thriller.
The chaos started right from the off, when Vettel fell back into the pack and was caught in a collision with Brazilian Bruno Senna’s Williams that left him facing the wrong way with a damaged car.
“There is visible damage, it is not the front wing, we cannot fix it,” he was told as he rejoined the chase with the whole race ahead of him.
Four laps later Vettel was assured that the data looked good and Red Bull technical head Adrian Newey had a massive, high-res photograph of the damage, taken at the driver’s pitstop to get a closer look from the pit wall.
Alonso, Vettel’s only real title rival, who had 13 points to make up, looked like he could steal it as the championship pendulum swung both ways over the 71 laps at the Interlagos circuit.
Alonso, who has not won a race since round 10 in Germany, reflected, “First of all I’m very proud of the team. We lost the championship before today, not in Brazil, this is a sport after all. When you do something with your heart and do it 100% you have to be proud of yourself and your team and we’ll try again next year.”
The Spaniard added, “I feel satisfied with the job and I feel proud of myself and the team. I think we gained so much respect from everybody this season. It was a good season. It was 20 races close to perfection, but we missed a little bit of performance through lack of ideas but we enjoyed it and fought until the end. We have to feel proud. We finished second today but it just wasn’t enough.”
Massa, who was very emotional on the podium, said, “The second part of the year was preparation for next year. It was so emotional to race here and I think the race was fantastic. For sure, it could have been a better position than I finished but I don’t know what to say or feel. I just started crying, it is so amazing.”
The Safety Car was deployed twice, there were crashes, collisions, botched pitstops and constant uncertainty about the weather with black clouds overhead, occasional rain but not the torrential downpour that many had worried about, just as some had hoped for it.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had led from pole position but could not shake off team mate Button, who made a wise decision to do a long first stint, along with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Hamilton’s last race for McLaren before he joins Mercedes ended when he and Hulkenberg collided on the 54th lap as they came up to lap back markers into turn one.
Hamilton said after his final race with McLaren, “A big congratulations to Jenson Button and Sebastian Vettel. They did a fantastic job. I feel OK. I am happy for the team that we got a win and feeling good for the future. I feel numb, a little bit like I did in 2007, it is mixed emotions at the moment. Sad that we were leading and I didn’t get to see through the race and also that I am leaving. But I am excited for the future and hopefully I will have a little bit of luck at some stage.”
As for the incident with Hulkenberg, Hamilton said, “The dude did not even come and say sorry. That is what happens when you are racing with the less experienced.”
Hulkenberg, who had led for much of the race, was able to rejoin but was given a drive through penalty that ended his hopes of a podium finish.
Australian Mark Webber finished fourth, ahead of Hulkenberg, in fifth in his last race for Force India before moving to Sauber.
Schumacher was the first to congratulate Vettel when the newly crowned triple world champion climbed out of the cockpit of his Red Bull, and said afterwards, “I think it’s a nice ending I’m finishing off and he [Sebastian Vettel] is clinching his third title. I’m very proud of him and he’s a good friend of mine and lets see what happens in his future.”
As for life beyond F1, he added, “My emotions are under control at the moment, maybe later having a drink and hugging the mechanics it’ll become more sentimental but I’m looking forward to life after F1 now.”
Out of the points, Caterham celebrated 11th place for Russian Vitaly Petrov that lifted them back ahead of Marussia into 10th place overall in the championship – a finish worth millions of dollars to the team.
Subbed by AJN.
Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos – 25 November 2012
|2||5||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||71||+2.7 secs||7||18|
|3||6||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||71||+3.6 secs||5||15|
|4||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||71||+4.9 secs||3||12|
|5||12||Nico Hulkenberg||Force India-Mercedes||71||+5.7 secs||6||10|
|6||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||71||+9.4 secs||4||8|
|7||7||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||71||+11.9 secs||13||6|
|8||17||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||71||+28.6 secs||17||4|
|9||14||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||71||+31.2 secs||14||2|
|10||9||Kimi Räikkönen||Lotus-Renault||70||+1 Lap||8||1|
|11||21||Vitaly Petrov||Caterham-Renault||70||+1 Lap||19|
|12||25||Charles Pic||Marussia-Cosworth||70||+1 Lap||22|
|13||16||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||70||+1 Lap||15|
|14||20||Heikki Kovalainen||Caterham-Renault||70||+1 Lap||20|
|15||8||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||70||+1 Lap||9|
|16||24||Timo Glock||Marussia-Cosworth||70||+1 Lap||21|
|17||22||Pedro de la Rosa||HRT-Cosworth||69||+2 Laps||24|
|18||23||Narain Karthikeyan||HRT-Cosworth||69||+2 Laps||23|
|19||11||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||68||+3 Laps||10|
|Ret||18||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||1||+70 Laps||16|
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- Ferrari: We have ended a difficult season with our heads held high