Round 20 - Brazil 23-25 November 2012
Circuit Length:4.309 Km
Lap Record:1:11.473 = 217.038 km/h, J. Montoya (Williams) 2004
Pole Position:Lewis Hamilton (McLaren Mercedes), 1:12.458 = 214.088 km/h
1st:Jenson Button (McLaren Mercedes), 1:45.22.656 (av. race speed = 174.178 km/h)
2nd:Fernando Alonso (Ferrari), 2.754s behind
3rd:Felipe Massa (Ferrari), 3.615s behind
Fastest Lap:Hamilton, 1:18.069 = 198.701 km/h on lap 38
IRONIC TWIST: INTERLAGOS IN 10 QUICK BYTES
Irony of ironies: another stunning Formula 1 season ended with Sebastian Vettel being named World Champion… behind the Safety Car as Jenson Button swept to victory in another stunning, rain-affected, accident-strewn and breathtaking Brazilian Grand Prix. How to sum it all up? Team by team at season’s end seems the way to go:
McLaren Mercedes: took pole position, Hamilton’s seventh of 2012 and the 26th of his 100-race career. With Button second, it was a record-breaking 62nd front row lock-out for the team. Hamilton, in his final race for them, led after a blinding start, lost it to Hulkenberg after 19 laps, regained it when the German spun on lap 48 but was taken out when Hulkenberg’s up-the-inside move after 55 laps ended in tears. “Now that the 2012 season is done and dusted, I feel a bit numb,” Hamilton said. “It’s been a day of mixed emotions. I’m sad that I didn’t finish the race, but I’m excited about the future. I feel comfortable going into this winter because I feel I did a good job this year. I gave 2012 everything I had. I couldn’t have done anything more.” Button, winner of the opening race in Melbourne, book-marked his season with his third win of 2012 and the 15th of his career.
Ferrari: Alonso needed to be on the podium and as usual overcame his car’s lack of qualifying pace to get there – for the 13th time this year. On lap one it looked as if his third title was in his grasp as Vettel spun and ended up last, but it wasn’t to be. “When you do something with your heart,” said the Spaniard, “when you do it 100 per cent, you have to be proud.” So too was Massa, third on the day – his first home podium since another tear-jerking day in 2008. He scored 99 points in the second half of the season – only 23 in the first.
Red Bull: A nervous Vettel was only fourth in qualifying – and at Turn 4 his title dreams seemed over when he was tapped by Senna’s Williams and dropped to dead-set last. Circumstance then conspired with him, not against as he four-stopped his way to sixth, easily enough to keep Alonso out, though three points is his narrowest margin of victory in three title-winning years. Vettel, still only25, is the youngest three-time world Champion and the only man ever to win his first three titles on the trot. “It’s unreal what has happened. To win a third title, especially here where one of my heroes Ayrton Senna was from, it’s difficult to put into words. I was crying in the car but my radio wasn’t working, so I’m maybe happy for that!” said Vettel. Webber out-qualified him with a brilliant lap for third on the grid, dropped several places with an ‘off’ after the Safety Car period from laps 23-29, and fought back for fourth. That dropped him to sixth overall, his lowest season finish since 2008.
Force India: A first race win was on the cards when Hulkenberg’s early pace caught Hamilton by surprise, but his charge at Turn 1 ended the German’s hopes of a stunning farewell to the team. A drive-through seemed a little harsh, but ‘Hulk’ came back to finish a buoyant fifth. “That was a lot of fun - very entertaining and there was so much happening all the time!” he said. “We had a great chance to finish on the podium today, but it slipped away, which is a shame.” So was the late-race crash for Di Resta, which prompted the second Safety Car and the go-slow finish to the race, although the Scot had done enough to be classified 19th and last.
Mercedes: Schumacher set off on the road to the grid with a huge checkered flag saying ‘Thank You’ as he prepared for his 307th and final Grand Prix. After an early puncture and multiple stops he made it home in seventh, only his eighth points-scoring finish of the season. It’s a strange sort of coincidence that I’ve ended my Formula One career now in P7, which was my first ever qualifying result at Spa-Francorchamps 308 races ago,” the German said. “It also occurs to me that I was driving with the number seven on my car today and that I have seven world championship trophies in my cabinet.” Rosberg meanwhile picked up a puncture on the debris-littered track and could finish no higher than 15th. Ninth overall, the Shanghai winner didn’t score a single point in the last six races of the season.
Toro Rosso: Vergne equalled his season-best result again with eighth place but rued a wrong call, staying out too long on dry tyres in the fluctuating conditions. “The team gave me the opportunity to run the race as I saw best from the cockpit and I have learned a lot of valuable lessons from today,” said the Frenchman. Aussie Ricciardo was again out of the points and ended the season as the last of the points-scoring drivers in 18th. Sauber: A double farewell for the team as Perez was having his last race before switching to McLaren and Kobayashi may well have had his last race, full stop. Perez’s ragged finish to 2012 continued when he was out on lap one, seemingly an innocent victim: “I didn’t really understand what happened after the start today. I went to the inside to avoid contact with other cars and then people crashed into me.” The Mexican is another who failed to score in the last six races of the season. Kobayashi had early contact with Webber and late contact with Schumacher on his way to a typically eventful ninth place.
Lotus: last of the points-scorers in 10th was Raikkonen, who as usual added his own unique touch when he went off on lap 52. “Where I went off you can get back on the track by going through the support race pit lane, but you have to go through a gate,” said the Abu Dhabi winner. “I know this as I did the same thing in 2001 and the gate was open that year. Somebody closed it this time. Next year I’ll make sure it’s open again.” Grosjean’s season ended with another accident after five laps, casting another shadow over his prospects for 2013.
Williams: A topsy-turvy season ended with double disappointment. Maldonado – whose grid penalty was his eighth of one kind or another for the year – was out after one lap, but that was a lap more than Senna, who made contact with Vettel on the opening tour and couldn’t recover. Senna in particular faces an anxious wait to see if a seat is available for next year despite a 50% points-scoring record through the season.
Caterham/Marussia/HRT: It’s been a season-long tussle between Caterham and Marussia for the big bucks on offer for taking 10th place overall. In the end it went to Caterham, ironically when Petrov passed Marussia’s Pic, who is Caterham-bound in 2013. The Russian’s 11th place was more than enough to trump Marussia’s best of the year. Will the extra money help keep Kovalainen in a race seat? And what will become of HRT? De la Rosa and Karthikeyan were 17th and 18th but they, like the team, have no idea what lies ahead.
The 2012 stats:
Wins: Vettel 5, Hamilton 4, Button and Alonso 3, Webber 2, Rosberg, Maldonado and Raikkonen 1
Poles: Hamilton 7, Vettel 6, Webber and Alonso 2, Rosberg, Maldonado and Button 1
Fastest Laps: Vettel 6, Button, Raikkonen and Rosberg 2, Grosjean, Perez, Schumacher, Senna, Kobayashi, Hulkenberg, Webber and Hamilton 1.