Button first, Alonso second but Vettel is Champion
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel may have finished only sixth in an amazing and thrilling Brazilian Grand Prix, as McLaren’s Jenson Button headed the Ferraris of title rival Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa home, but it was enough (as heard over his team radio) to make him the first triple world champion since Michael Schumacher.
In an amazing afternoon in Brazil, it didn’t always seem that the young German had his third world driver’s title ‘in the bag’ as within seconds of the start, he collided with Bruno Senna, spun around 180 degrees in Turn Four and was pushed to the back of the field. But he battled his way through, never getting ahead of Alonso but always close enough, so that the 13-point cushion he brought to Interlagos was going to be enough.
Race started and it all seemed to come to a head. Every single driver on the circuit was pushing for something. Whether is be Michael Schumacher giving his final farewell, Kamui Kobayashi showing prospective teams that he is the driver they need or two skilled drivers pushing for the title, it was going to be a memorable race. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton led Button in the early stages as Massa pushed through to snatch third place and then proceeded to hand his position to Alonso on the fifth lap. But soon the conditions were bad enough for some drivers to consider switching their slicks for intermediates.
Hamilton had the led from start of the race but Button seemed more comfortable in the conditions, being said that he was the ‘master of changing conditions’ and took the lead from his teammate on lap eight. As the it began to spit rain, Webber was the first man on to intermediate (on lap 10) and the rest of the field soon followed. Only Button and Hülkenberg staying on slicks which seemed like a move that paid off as the two stayed over 20 seconds clear of the field.
Lap 19, and Hülkenberg took full advantage of a slight twitch from Button near turn one and he went on to take the lead. But all seemed for naught as the lead changed hands with drivers switching back to slick tyres. Rosberg soon picked up a puncture as more and more debris built up on the track. The safety car was deployed, giving Button and Hülkenberg the chance to pit, but also erasing their comfortable lead.
On the race restart (on Lap 30), Hülkenberg looked to be pulling away, but Button had flat spotted his front tyres and was soon re-passed by Hamilton. Hamilton then set about reeling in Hülkenberg and finally took back the lead on the 48th lap when the Force India literally drifted around the corner at Laranja. The rain continued to be spotty and when another sprinkling fell, we saw the front two drivers close together. And again, when Hülkenberg tried to come up on the inside of Hamilton, coming into turn one and ended up sliding right into the McLaren, taking Hamilton out of the race, his final race with McLaren.
Nico Hülkenberg was handed a drive through penalty for the drifting incident which saw him drop to fifth, right behind Button, Massa, Alonso and Webber. As the rain intensified, to such an extent that Räikkönen had gone wide at Juncao and decided to take to the old circuit (behind the barriers) to try and recover but instead, he found a gate blocking his path and had to turn his Lotus round to retrace his steps to rejoin the circuit!
Towards the end of the race, it seemed that there was a new and possibly hotter battle further back the grid. Caterhams’ Vitlay Petrov was fighting Marussia’s Charles Pic for 11th place. Not only was Brazil the decider in the Driver’s Title but it was also the decider for 10th in the Constructor’s Title. With the one position being fought over, it could mean millions of Euros to the winning driver’s team. In the end, Petrov finally managed to catch up and overtake the young Frenchman (who now we have been able to confirm, has signed with Caterham next year) with one move.
While Massa allowed Alonso through in to second place, he was 20 seconds behind Button and could make no impression on the leader. But there was one more drama to be played out in the final few laps of the 2012 Brazil Grand Prix. It came when Paul di Resta crashed his Force India heavily into the barriers in the final sector on the 69th lap, bringing the safety car out again. Di Resta was okay, but as the safety car pulled into the pits again before the 71st lap was over, the field crossed the line for the last time under the yellows.
Sebastian Vettel had done just enough to win a third consecutive Driver’s World Championship and thus he has joined an elite group comprised of Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost, Jack Brabham, Jackie Stewart, Niki Lauda, Nelson Piquet and Ayrton Senna as triple world champion.
|Felipe Massa||Third Fan’s Choice|
|Pedro de la Rosa||P17|
|Paul di Resta||P19|
|Lewis Hamilton||Retired (collision)|
|Pastor Maldonado||Retired (spun off)|
|Romain Grosjean||Retired (spun off)|
|Bruno Senna||Retired (collision)|
|Sergio Pérez||Retired (collision)|