FIA F1 - Race Re-Cap Brazil
Interlagos, Nov. 26, 2012: In one of the most dramatic rounds of the season the weather played a key role in creating a classic in which the world championship was finally decided in Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull’s favour by just three points over Fernando Alonso and Ferrari. Ultimately it was McLaren’s Jenson Button who rode the Sao Paulo storm as only Button can, to dominate the Interlagos race - a race which could have been won by a Force India…
McLaren Jenson Button, P1 Lewis Hamilton, Retired lap 55, accident McLaren owned Interlagos for much of the weekend, wrapping up the front row for the 62nd time and taking their 182nd Grand Prix win courtesy of Button. He took the lead from Hamilton as the track got increasingly slippery in the early laps, then gambled successfully on staying out on slicks as Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel pitted for Pirelli’s intermediates. But then he lost the lead to the press-on Hulkenberg on the 18th lap, and together they lost a 40s advantage when the safety car neutralised the race on lap 23 while debris was cleared. By the restart Button had grained his front tyres and lost a place to Hamilton. The latter later overtook Hulkenberg on the 48th lap, but was under attack when the German spun and smashed his left front suspension on the 55th lap. That left Button in the lead and he held on easily to the flag, but Hamilton’s retirement in his last race for the team, and Ferrari’s 2-3, meant McLaren had to settle for third in the final constructors’ standings.Ferrari Fernando Alonso, P2 Felipe Massa, P3 Ferrari prayed for a miracle, and with blistering starts from both Massa and Alonso, allied to Vettel’s problems on the opening lap, it seemed one was imminent. But Vettel’s comeback put an end to the great dream even though Alonso eventually finished second to Button. He owed much of that to Massa, who drove like a hero to create situation from which his team leader could benefit. It was teamwork at its best, and one had to feel sorry for both Alonso and Ferrari failing by such a small margin in the final race after such a brilliantly fought campaign all season.
Red Bull Mark Webber, P4 Sebastian Vettel, P6 The race seemed like a disaster for Vettel and Red Bull when Senna spun him through 180 degrees in Turn Four on the opening lap. He dropped to the back of the field with a car that was so damaged that it was bog slow on the straights. But he kept his head and even when he lost radio contact with the pits later, managed to claw his way back into contention. Sixth place was ultimately all he needed, to score a brilliant third consecutive world championship by three points over Alonso. Webber had a tricky race, with a half spin in the Senna S, and another later on, but fought his way back up to fourth and kept Hulkenberg at bay to the flag.
Force India Nico Hulkenberg, P5 Paul di Resta, Retired lap 69, accident This was a massive race of what might have been for Force India. What might have happened had Hulkenberg not got sideways on the 48th lap and lost the lead to Hamilton? What might have happened had he not then spun while re-challenging the McLaren driver for the lead on the 55th? The latter resulted in a collision that put Hamilton out, dropped him to second, and then earned him the drive-through penalty that left him fifth. Di Resta struggled for grip all afternoon, had an up and down race, but was running behind Vettel when he spun on the climb to the start/finish line, bringing out the safety car for the second time. He was unhurt.
Mercedes Michael Schumacher, P7 Nico Rosberg, P15 Seventh place was the best that Schumacher could do on his final Grand Prix appearance. Both he and Rosberg were unlucky enough to sustain punctures caused by the debris that brought out the safety car on lap 23, and both made four stops. Schumacher had a terrific battle with Raikkonen and scored six more points, but Rosberg said this was the longest race of his career as he finished an unhappy 15th.
Toro Rosso Jean-Eric Vergne, P8 Daniel Ricciardo, P13 Vergne drove a blinder to score four more points with eighth, despite a moment when he ran into the back of Glock after the first restart. But he thought he could have done better still with better personal management of the pit stop situation; he said he made the decision to stay out too long on slicks early on. Ricciardo had good pace at one stage, but said his race was simply a matter of too many pit stops.
Sauber Kamui Kobayashi, P9 Sergio Perez, Retired lap 1, accident Perez was a first-lap victim of Senna’s indiscretion, on his last outing for Sauber, but on his last appearance Kobayashi kept himself in play and was a contender for better than his eventual ninth place before his C31 began to fade near the end. There was to be no fairy tale passing of Mercedes for fifth overall, but the 2012 season was without doubt the Swiss team’s most impressive.
Lotus Kimi Raikkonen, P10 Romain Grosjean, Retired lap 6, accident Lotus had an unhappy race, with Grosjean crashing out early and Raikkonen struggling for speed. There was a pantomime when the latter slid off in Turn 12 and appeared to have trouble finding the route to regain the track; it involved going through a support race pit lane where, when he did the same thing in 2001 with Sauber, he went through an open gate. But this time it was closed, so he had to improvise… He finished a lowly 10th to score the final point and cement his third overall in the drivers’ rankings.
Caterham Vitaly Petrov, P11 Heikki Kovalainen, P14 You would never have put money on Caterham landing the result they so desperately needed to recapture 10th place overall, but the cards fell their way in this topsy turvy encounter. Petrov had a real battle with Pic and seemed to have blown it when he spun, but he managed to claw his way back into contention and 11th place sealed the deal, to Tony Fernandes’ delight. Further back, Kovalainen was delayed and so was Glock, and the Finn managed to vault from 16th to 14th on one lap near the end when he disposed of the German and fellow countryman Rosberg.
Marussia Charles Pic, P12 Timo Glock, P16 Normally Marussia would have been over the moon with 12th place, but unfortunately for them it was one place behind a Caterham, which meant a serious loss in revenue for losing 10th place in the constructors’ championship table. Pic had a brilliant fight with Petrov and seemed to have won it after the Russian spun, while Glock was likewise embroiled with Kovalainen further down the road. But it just didn’t work out in their favour this time.
HRT Pedro de la Rosa, P17 Narain Karthikeyan, P18 What many were predicting would be HRT’s last race realised little, but at least De la Rosa and Karthikeyan made it to the finish for the independent Spanish team.
Williams Pastor Maldonado, Retired lap 2, accident Bruno Senna, Retired lap 1, accident Sometimes you eat the bear, other times you’re the ursine meal. Thanks to Senna’s indiscretion on the opening lap both he and Perez ended up parked with damage, and then Maldonado made a similar error a lap later, putting his FW34 into the tyre wall. It doesn’t get much worse than that.