Monday November 26, 2012
Vettel becomes F1’s youngest triple champion as Button wins thriller
SAO PAULO: Sebastian Vettel became the youngest triple champion in Formula One history yesterday when he finished sixth behind the victorious Jenson Button in a tumultuous Brazilian Grand Prix.
The 25-year-old German, who was involved in an opening lap collision, made light of the damage to his Red Bull car as he fought through the field in a dramatic race run in treacherous rain-swept conditions at the Interlagos circuit.
Vettel’s only title rival, two-time champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso, finished a fine second after a courageous drive for Ferrari, but it was not enough to overhaul a pre-race 13-point deficit as his German rival won the crown by just three points.
The race was littered with accidents and incidents and ended behind a Safety Car with Vettel bringing his car home in the rain in tears, unable to respond to the screamed congratulations from Red Bull team chief Christian Horner.
Vettel became only the third driver in history to win three successive titles, equalling the feats of the great Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and his own childhood idol Michael Schumacher, who finished seventh for Mercedes in his final race before retiring.
Alonso’s Ferrari team-mate, local hero Brazilian Felipe Massa, drove brilliantly to finish third ahead of Australian Mark Webber in the second Red Bull and German Nico Hulkenberg of Force India.
“We lost communication at the start but Sebastian stuck at it. He drove with determination,” said Horner.
“He just never gives up. After the first lap spin I thought that was it because we knew Fernando would be on the podium. But he got back to the top six, the rain came, we went to inter (tyres) and then slicks.
“It was maximum stress throughout the race, but Seb stayed cool. Fernando did a great job but he knew he was up against one of the best. What Seb achieved was incredible.”
Hulkenberg played a prominent role in the race, not only leading for a spell but also crashing into Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren to wreck the Briton’s hopes of a triumphant conclusion to his career with the British team just when he looked sure of winning.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had led from pole position but could not shake off team mate Button, who made a wise decision to do a long first stint along with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg.
Hamilton’s last race for McLaren before he joins Mercedes ended when he and Hulkenberg collided on the 54th lap as they came up to lap back markers into turn one.
Hulkenberg, who had led for much of the race, was able to rejoin but was given a drive through penalty that ended his hopes of a podium finish.
Vettel was sixth, Schumacher seventh and Frenchman Jean-Eric Vergne eighth for Toro Rosso ahead of Japanese Kamui Kobayashi of Sauber and Finn Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus.
Vettel, whose Red Bull team took a third constructors’ championship in succession last weekend in Texas, finished with 281 points and Alonso with 278.
It was Briton Button’s first win in Brazil, his third of the season and the 15th of his career.
Alonso paid tribute to his Ferrari team.
“First of all I’m very proud of the team. We lost the championship before today, not in Brazil, this is a sport after all,” said the Spaniard.
“When you do something with your heart and do it 100 percent you have to be proud of yourself and your team and we’ll try again next year.”
Button added: “First of all I want to congratulate the whole team. This is the perfect way to end the season. We have had ups and downs and to end on a high bodes well for 2013.”
Out of the points, Caterham celebrated 11th place for Russian Vitaly Petrov that lifted them back ahead of Marussia into 10th place overall in the championship - a finish worth millions to the team. — Agencies
1. Jenson Button (Bri) McLaren Mercedes 1’45:22.656, 2. Fernando Alonso (Spa) Scuderia Ferrari 2.754 seconds behind, 3. Felipe Massa (Bra) Scuderia Ferrari 3.615, 4. Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull Racing 4.936, 5. Nico Hlkenberg (Ger) Force India 5.708, 6. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull Racing 9.453, 7. Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes AMG 11.907, 8. Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) Scuderia Toro Rosso 28.653, 9. Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber 31.250, 10. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) Lotus at 1 lap, 11. Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Caterham at 1 lap, 12. Charles Pic (Fra) Marussia 1 lap, 13. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 lap, 14. Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Caterham 1 lap, 15. Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes AMG at 1 lap, 16. Timo Glock (Ger) Marussia at 1 lap, 17. Pedro de la Rosa (Spa) HRT at 2 laps, 18. Narain Karthikeyan (Ind) HRT at 2 laps, 19. Paul di Resta (Bri) Force India at 3 laps. n Overall final standings
Drivers: 1. Sebastian Vettel (Ger) 281.0pts, 2. Fernando Alonso (Spa) 278.0, 3. Kimi Raikkonen (Fin) 207.0, 4. Lewis Hamilton (Bri) 190.0, 5. Jenson Button (Bri) 188.0, 6. Mark Webber (Aus) 179.0, 7. Felipe Massa (Bra) 122.0, 8. Romain Grosjean (Fra) 96.0, 9. Nico Rosberg (Ger) 93.0, 10. Sergio Perez (Mex) 66.0, 11. Nico Hlkenberg (Ger) 63.0, 12. Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) 60.0, 13. Michael Schumacher (Ger) 49.0, 14. Paul di Resta (Bri) 46.0, 15. Pastor Maldonado (Ven) 45.0, 16. Bruno Senna (Bra) 31.0, 17. Jean-Eric Vergne (Fra) 16.0, 18. Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) 10.0.
n Constructors: 1. Red Bull Racing 460.0pts, 2. Scuderia Ferrari 400.0, 3. McLaren Mercedes 378.0, 4. Lotus 303.0, 5. Mercedes AMG 142.0, 6. Sauber 126.0, 7. Force India 109.0, 8. Williams 76.0, 9. Scuderia Toro Rosso 26.0.