Vettel Wins 3rd F1 Title In a Row as Button Wins Brazilian GP
[Ed.: Originally posted November 26]
McLaren’s Jenson Button won the last grand prix of this year’s F1 season in Brazil on Sunday, and Sebastian Vettel narrowly beat Fernando Alonso to clinch his third straight F1 title, only the third driver in the history of F1 to do so (Juan Manuel Fangio won the 1954-57 seasons, and Michael Schumacher took first from 2000-04).
The event was plagued by on-again, off-again bouts of rain, forcing drivers to make frequent pit stops to change out the tires or run the risk of using the wrong compound on the alternating wet and dry track surface. The rain started out as a light sprinkle, where it seesawed throughout the race before settling on a torrential downpour in the late stages. The tires weren’t the only thing affected by the wonky weather, however, as drivers pushed the cars and themselves to the limit. Sometimes the rain bested even the most professional drivers.
In the first lap, Bruno Senna collided with Vettel, rotating the German a full 180 degrees while the other drivers struggled to maneuver around. Vettel quickly recovered and caught up to the pack, while Senna and Sergio Perez (also involved in the accident) were off the track almost immediately after the race commenced. Senna’s teammate, Pastor Maldonado, lost control of his car in Turn 3 one lap later; the Williams team had hung up its gloves before the tires even got warm.
Lewis Hamilton, in his last race for McLaren before he moves to Mercedes next year, began the race in pole position but was forced off the road when Nico Hulkenberg destroyed his front left tire and left the McLaren inoperable.
In lap 70 of 71, Paul di Resta lost control of his car on the absolutely soaked track, forcing the Mercedes SLS AMG pace car onto the track for a second time to lead cars around the wreckage strewn across the road to effectively end the race.
Button finished the race in first, with Alonso in second and Massa in third. Vettel finished in sixth, and Schumacher, in his final F1 race, finished in seventh. With only three points separating the two drivers in overall standings, if Alonso had finished first or Vettel finished in ninth or behind, Alonso would have been the Drivers’ Champion in 2012. Once Vettel had reached sixth place, he knew all he had to do was coast the last few laps to grab his third consecutive F1 title.
The Brazil GP was fast and furious, with the slick track adding an extra layer of drama to an already tense race. With Schumacher out and Hamilton leaving for Merc, the 2013 season will see rules changes as well. The DRS system, currently allowed to be used at any point during practice and qualifying laps, will be limited to two specified DRS zones that will be the only points during these events that the system can be used. The stepped nose on the car that has drawn much criticism will be revised, as a one-piece unit has been proposed to enhance the visual appeal with no negative effects. The Nurburgring will again host the 2013 German GP; for the last few seasons, this Grand Prix has alternated between the Nurburgring GP track and Hockenheim.
The 2013 F1 season begins on March 17 with the Australian GP in Melbourne. F1 coverage will continue as developments occur.