VICTORY FOR BUTTON AND TRIUMPH FOR VETTEL AMIDST BRAZILIAN DELUGE

26 Nov

The Michael Report- FORMULA ONE GRANDE PRÊMIO PETROBRAS DO BRASIL 2012

WHERE should we start on this one? The final Grand Prix on this year’s calendar was always going to be exciting, with a title battle on the cards, but no- one could have predicted the tension, excitement and drama at Interlagos – with crashes galore, countless manoeuvres and totally unpredictable weather, the 2012 Braxilian Grand Prix is almost certain to go down as one of the classic races of all time.

The light drizzle from the onset wreaked havoc to many unfortunate drivers- Sergio Perez and Bruno Senna were the first victims of the slippery circuit with collisions that brought an abrupt end to their season, and one of these incidents completely jeopardised Sebastian Vettel’s chances of obtaining a third consecutive title Sao Paolo- Bruno Senna’s great start was not to be as he collided into the side of Sebastian Vettel’s car in the fourth corner- after a poor start, damage was considerable to the sides of the young German’s car, but although he had to pit, the damage was light enough to continue with an under performing car with less grip and less downforce.

Meanwhile, Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa had amazing starts and managed to claw their way through into high positions by the end of the first few laps, and with Sebastian’s accident, Fernando Alonso looked set to win the Championship title at one point… But then the heavens opened, forcing many cars to pit for the intermediate compound tyres, and all cars began slipping and sliding around the circuit, and Alonso’s chances slid away again as he went wide on the Senna S curves at the start of another lap- the battle was still on.

Only the elitist of the elite had the guts to remain on slick tyres during the rain, but as it eased off, Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg sought the greatest reward as they pulled off from the pack to a substantial lead, soon to be joined by Lewis Hamilton who switched back onto dry tyres later on; this would also allow them a sufficient enough gap to pit and still hold on to the podium positions. Hulkenberg demonstrated his potential as he managed to overtake the squabbling McLaren drivers to take the lead of the race, and his pace was very impressive.

The safety car was deployed after debris added to the challenging circuit, and this was partially due to Nico Rosberg’s puncture, and Romain Grosjean spinning off and crashing into a wall. The pack bunched back up again, and when the safety car left the track, racing was well and truly back on- unfortunately, back markers meant that there wasn’t enough room for both Nico Hulkenberg and Lewis Hamilton to turn into the first corner, they collided, and Hamilton suffered a write off in his final McLaren race; Hulkenberg received a harsh drive through penalty for causing a collision that can easily be blamed on a racing incident in tricky conditions. Eventually, the rain returned, and all cars switched back to wet tyres- Sebastian Vettel looked like a loser after having to pit twice more, with a broken radio leading to one of these stops lasting twelve seconds- a Ferrari champion was yet again on the cards!

However, despite Fernando Alonso’s best efforts, second place just wasn’t good enough- he ideally needed to overtake Jenson Button in first place if he was to stand a chance of hauling enough points to steal the title from Vettel, and the race ended abruptly following Paul Di Resta’s crash on the penultimate lap, forcing a second outing for the safety car team, preventing overtaking, and meaning that Vettel’s sixth place was enough to beat Alonso and become the youngest ever Formula One triple world champion, and only the third ever to win these titles consecutively.

Jenson Button led the procession to the chequered flag, followed closely by Fernando Alonso in second, and home favourite and team mate Felipe Massa in third place. Mark Webber finished fourth, and Nico Hulkenberg staged a remarkable comeback to finish in fifth place; Michael Schumacher gave way to Sebastian Vettel to finish seventh in his last ever Formula One Grand Prix. Eighth place went to Jean Eric-Vergne, who also had to endure the loss of a front wing after contact with a back marker, and Kamui Kobayashi bowed out of Sauber in ninth place. Kimi Raikkönen nearly ended his 100% of laps completed record today- he ran wide several times, almost succumbed to a collision with Michael Schumacher, and lost himself on the old circuit after running wide onto the grass, discovering his dead end, and turned around to return back onto the circuit to finish in tenth!

The main titles were decided, but it was a crucial race for the Caterham team, for if they managed to finish twelfth or above, they would retake tenth place in the Constructors Championship from Marussia, meaning an extra £10-15 million of funding, and Vitaly Petrov survived the hectic conditions to finish in an impressive eleventh place ahead of Charles Pic in twelfth, and Marussia buried their heads in their hands, for if Timo Glock hadn’t crashed with Vergne, all signs indicated Marussia would have held onto their place in the standings.

Nonetheless, it was a fitting finale to an absolutely jam packed race in Brazil, one that saw triumph and heartbreak, but never failed to thrill and excite, and one that saw Sebastian Vettel secure his Drivers’ Championship for a third year in a row and make his mark on Formula One history, with many more exciting years still ahead for the young driver.

FINAL OFFICIAL STANDINGS

Fernando dug deep, but it wasn’t good enough to stop Vettel winning the Drivers’ Championships, but such was his driving today, that he lost by a mere three points, with Sebastian accumulating 281 points to Alonso’s 278. Kimi Raikkönen’s solitary point meant that he finished third with 207 points, which could have been overturned if it weren’t for Lewis Hamilton’s 2012 misfortune- he finished fourth with 190 points. Team-mate Jenson Button managed to claw back fifth position from Mark Webber, finishing with 188 points ahead of Mark’s haul of 179 points.

The driver in seventh place is the resurgent Felipe Massa, who managed to end his year with a total of 122 points, which is an impressive feat if you consider his dire performance in many Grands Prix this year. Romain Grosjean’s incident meant he would end the year without surpassing a century- he finished in eighth with 96 points, just three ahead of Nico Rosberg in ninth place and 93 points. Sergio Perez leaves Sauber in the top 10 with 66 points in tenth.

Nico Hulkenberg finished ahead of his Force India team-mate with 63 points in eleventh; Paul Di Resta only amassed 46 points in fourteenth- Kamui Kobayashi is twelfth with 60; Michael Schumacher achieved thirteen with 49 points. Williams’ Pastor Maldonado finished fifteenth with 45 points, and colleague Bruno Senna ends the year with 31 points in sixteenth. The two Toro Rosso drivers end the year in seventeenth and eighteenth- Jean Eric- Vergne has 16 points, and Daniel Ricciardo has 10.

Concerning the pointless drivers, an F1 count back has meant that Vitaly Petrov had the highest positions overall and finishes nineteenth; Timo Glock finishes in twentieth ahead of his Marussia colleague Charles Pic in twenty-first. Heikki Kovaleinen finished in twenty-second for Caterham, and even Jerome D’Ambrosio’s one off drive for Lotus in Italy (Due to Grosjean’s ban) meant he finished twenty-third, ahead of the HRT drivers. Narain Karthikeyan was statistically better, finishing twenty-fourth and Pedro De La Rosa finished in last place, twenty-fifth.

In the Constructor’s Championships, Red Bull added to their winning score to achieve a total of 460 points this year, and Lewis Hamilton’s accident failed to allow McLaren to overtake Ferrari, who end 2012 with 400 points; the Woking drivers finished third with 378 points. Lotus finished fourth with 303 points.

Mercedes managed to hold onto fifth place, finishing with 142 points, ahead of the Sauber drivers, who managed to accumulate 126 points. Seventh placed team Force India finished with 109 points, and Williams finished eighth with 76 points, ahead of Toro Rosso who finished with ninth place and 26 points. Caterham finished, pointless, in tenth, Marussia in eleventh and HRT in last place.

We are likely to say goodbye to the HRT team this year, due to a lack of funding and resources, but it has most definitely been an enthralling season for the entire grid from start to finish. From Melbourne victory for Button to a first Williams victory for Maldonado in Spain, to a massive pile up in Belgium and back to back Vettel victories in Asia, Formula One has once again delivered and it has been a privilege to share this with you.

Have a great Christmas and New Year and I hope to share another year of excitement with you. We start with Melbourne on the 17th March. Until then, Michael Aspin says goodbye and thank- you for reading.

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