|Three-time Drivers Champion Sebastian Vettel |
Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images
His only rival for the Championship, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, finished second behind race-winner Jenson Button of McLaren. Felipe Massa stood next to his Ferrari teammate to accept the third place trophy.
''I want to congratulate the whole team. This is the perfect way to end the whole season and it bodes well for 2013,'' exclaimed Button.
It was a day filled with tension as eyes were on the race leaders as well as the two Championship contenders. Some focused on Michael Schumacher who, retiring from Formula One, drove his final Grand Prix today. F1 fans also focused on the rain which only intensified the atmosphere and wreaked havoc with those driving the last Round of the season. Many of the drivers found it difficult navigating through a circuit that is not only curvy with elevation but is known to be extremely slick in the wet. As is so often the case at Interlagos, the safety car was out several times due to collisions and debris. In fact, the race was won under yellow.
Vettel got off to a poor start and dropped several grid places only to be clipped by Bruno Senna and it was feared the contact might interfere with Vettel's race. His team radioed that there was nothing to be done about the damage to floor and left rear of his car, and he was told to carry on. So he did after having to restart from the back.
The first few laps were complete chaos: Grosjean spun off track and hit the wall- he was out. Up front, the McLarens battled each other for position. Meanwhile, at about the same time, Alonso locked up and went spinning off track handing third place to Nico Hulkenberg, Kimi Raikkonen pitted for intermediate tires and Button overtook polesitter Lewis Hamilton. There was so much to watch the first few laps it was almost too difficult to keep track of, but was certainly exciting!
Button and Hulkenberg were the only two to stay on dry tires; a formidable strategy considering the light rain at the beginning of the race. It was one that proved smart as other drivers pitted to change again back onto the hards. This enabled Hulkenberg to take the lead at Lap 19- a small victory for Force India but one that was soon to be taken away when the safety car came out yet again as debris was cleared from the track. The drivers were given a chance to bunch up once more and as the safety car came in, their front-running advantage was erased.
Soon after re-start, Hulkenberg clipped Hamilton resulting in Hamilton's retirement. Certainly a sad finish to Hamilton's career at McLaren but in spite of him moving to Mercedes next year, he received a standing ovation by his team as he walked back to pit row. Button took the front of the pack and he retained first throughout the rest of the race. Alonso passed teammate Massa to take second place.
Lap 69 was the fulcrum that nailed the championship. Paul di Resta crashed into the wall and out came the safety car. No more overtaking. The racing was done. The Championship won and the order of finish was set. It was a bit of an anti-climactic finish but there was no way to clear the car and allow for more racing with such a short amount of time left. With Vettel's sixth-place finish, Alonso needed to win the race to win the Championship. It was over.
So it was Button in first, Alonso second on the podium as well as in the title run. Given the car and the conditions Alonso did well with what he was given this year. Massa was very emotional as he took third place on the podium on his home turf.
Congratulations go to all three of today's winners as well as the Drivers Champion, Sebastian Vettel. Michael Schumacher deserves accolades as well for finishing in the points in his last Formula One race.
Here is the full list of drivers in order of finish:
1- Jenson Button (McLaren)
2- Fernando Alonso (Ferrari)
3- Felipe Massa (Ferrari)
4- Mark Webber (Red Bull)
5- Nico Hulkenberg (Force India)
6- Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull)
7- Michael Schumacher (Mercedes
8- Jean-Eric Vergne (Toro Rosso)
9- Kamui Kobayashi (Sauber)
10- Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus)
11- Vitaly Petrov (Caterham)
12- Charles Pic (Marussia)
13- Daniel Ricciardo (Toro Rosso)
14- Heikki Kovalainen (Caterham)
15- Nico Rosberg (Mercedes)
16- Timo Glock (Marussia)
17- Pedro de la Rosa (Cosworth)
18- Narain Karthikeyan (Cosworth)
19- Paul Di Resta (Force India)
Ret- Lewis Hamilton (McLaren)
Ret- Romain Grosjean (Lotus)
Ret- Pastor Maldonado (Williams)
Ret- Bruno Senna (Williams)
Ret- Sergio Perez (Sauber)
2012 FIA Formula One World Championship™ results:
1 Sebastian Vettel
2 Fernando Alonso
3 Kimi Raikkonen
4 Lewis Hamilton
5 Jenson Button
6 Mark Webber
7 Felipe Massa
8 Romain Grosjean
9 Nico Rosberg
10 Sergio Perez
11 Nico Hulkenberg
12 Kamui Kobayashi
13 Michael Schumacher
14 Paul di Resta
15 Pastor Maldonado
16 Bruno Senna
17 Jean-Eric Vergne
18 Daniel Ricciardo
19 Vitaly Petrov
20 Timo Glock
21 Charles Pic
22 Heikki Kovalainen
23 Jerome d'Ambrosio
24 Narain Karthikeyan
25 Pedro de la Rosa
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