ROUND 19 – Brazil, November 24, 2013
1st: Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Renault) 1hr 32m 36.300s (198.202 km/h)
2nd: Mark Webber (Red Bull Renault) gap: 10.452s
3rd: Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) gap: 18.913s
Fastest Lap: Webber 1:15.436 = 205.636 km/h on lap 51
Pole Position: Vettel 1:26.479 = 179.377 km/h
World Championship: Vettel 397 points • Alonso 242 • Webber 199
“I GOT THE TIMING RIGHT”
Yes, Sebastian made it nine a row and 13 for the season and yes, he was miles ahead again. But Sunday was all about Mark and a podium finish with the bonus of fastest race lap meant the 37-year-old Australian ended his F1 career in some style. In a race threatened but never spoiled by the iffy Interlagos weather, both Red Bulls made an uncertain start. But once Vettel had dispensed with Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes at the end of the first lap it was down to Webber, starting fourth and dropping a place, to make it the fourth Red Bull 1-2 of 2013 and their 16th overall.
Hallmark Webber moves, first on Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes, then on Alonso’s Ferrari, got that job done. He had to do the business on Fernando twice after a confused mid-race Red Bull stop at which Vettel had to wait for fresh tyres and Webber queued patiently behind him, but once again the Australian breezed past. He enjoyed the luxury of driving the 71st and final lap as slowly as he dared, then took off his helmet on the slow-down lap to let the fans see him and to savour his final moments as a Grand Prix driver. “It was just a really nice thing to experience,” said Webber. “I heard a lot of noises that I don’t normally hear!" He was especially pleased to be in the company he enjoyed on the podium: “Seb and I have had our challenges over time and it’s easier to have a relationship with Fernando as he’s in another team, but to finish on the podium with those two guys – well, they have been the best of this generation,” said Webber. “I have raced them a lot and to finish with those guys was nice for me because it meant a lot, showing that I can drive well at the end of my career and that I got the timing right.”
Alonso’s heroics in sticking with the Red Bulls were not enough to rescue Ferrari from third place in the Constructors’Championship. Teammate Felipe Massa, given a guard of honour by his crew as he left the Ferrari pits for his 139th and final race for the Scuderia, had to accept a drive-through penalty for crossing the line separating track and pit entry too many times. ‘Unbelievable!” roared the normally placid Brazilian as he then fought back to finish seventh on a day when fourth seemed possible if not probable.
Although Lewis Hamilton was given a drive-through of his own for causing the collision that eliminated Valtteri Bottas’s Williams, ninth for the Briton and fifth for teammate Nico Rosberg was enough to keep Mercedes ‘best of the rest’ in second place behind Red Bull with just a six-point margin over Ferrari. “I thought that I had moved to the left,” said Hamilton. “He outbraked me and then we touched but it happened so quickly and it was obviously judged that I had done something wrong.” The result also dropped Hamilton down to fourth in the Drivers’ Championship as Webber slipped past for third place in the final standings with a margin of four points.
McLaren left it late but had a bitter-sweet afternoon, securing their best result of 2013 with Jenson Button driving superbly to claim fourth, but also enduring their worst season since1980, failing to achieve a single podium all season. “This is a great way to end the year, and now our focus turns squarely to 2014,” said Button, who set a new record for a British driver when he completed his 247th Grand Prix. “McLaren is an incredibly strong and powerful organisation – and, believe me, we will fight back.” With Sergio Perez finishing sixth in his final drive for the team, it was by some margin McLaren’s best result of a disappointing season.
Eighth behind Massa was Nico Hulkenberg, said by paddock insiders to have done a deal to return to Force India, whom he left at the end of last season to join Sauber. A strong second half to the season has seen the 26-year-old German cement his reputation, finishing 10th overall, his best in F1 so far. And in any case his hopes of perhaps joining Lotus seem to have been dashed by Pastor Maldonado’s millions…
The day’s final point went to Australia’s Dan Ricciardo, celebrating his 50th Grand Prix with 10th place in his final outing for Scuderia Toro Rosso before moving up to replace Webber at Red Bull. Ricciardo paid tribute to Mark Webber, whom he first met at Monza in 2007, before getting through a busy race to claim his first point since India.
There were just three retirements, the first being the most spectacular when Romain Grosjean’s season ended disappointingly with a blown engine in his Lotus Renault. The last was Charles Pic’s Caterham, and it was Marussia who secured the vital 10th and final cash-paying position in the Constructors’ Championship as Jules Bianchi finished 17th and Max Chilton 19th. Chilton was the only member of the rookie brigade to finish all 19 races in the 2013 season. “This has certainly been a character-building season,” said a relieved team principal, John Booth. “At the beginning we had a clear advantage over Caterham, then we lost some ground during the middle part of the year. Over the final long-haul phase we have pushed extremely hard, caught up and enjoyed some proper racing with them.”
Coming up: a new era It’s all change on the technical front for F1 in 2014. Be with us for a new-look start to the sport’s 65th season at the Australian Grand Prix on March 16!