Date:Wednesday November 28 2012
The Vital Formula One Race weekend recap feature, usually only concentrates on the drivers who finish on the podium.
But just like everyone else in Brazil, the attention and focus was firmly on Sebastian Vettel last weekend and so it would only seem right to recap just how the German managed to take his third successive Formula One Drivers World Championship and write his name in the records books as the youngest ever triple World Champion.
The Red Bull driver of course arrived at the famous Interlagos circuit with a 13 points lead over title rival Fernando Alonso. That meant that Vettel just needed to finish in the top four on Sunday to take the title no matter what the Ferrari driver did.
If Alonso couldn't win the race and could only finish second, Vettel needed a seventh place finish, third for Alonso and Vettel needed a ninth place finish.
If Alonso failed to stand on the podium, Vettel would be champion even if he failed to score a point.
So with all that in mind, it was certainly Vettel's championship to lose. He just needed to do what he's done throughout the second part of the season and he would be champion.
Friday practice sessions threw up no great surprises, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton topped both sessions, with Vettel second in both sessions.
On Saturday Button topped the timing sheets with Vettel once again second, but once qualifying came around Red Bull slipped down the pecking order with a front row lock out for McLaren and Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber bumping Vettel down to fourth.
“Q2 was good for us, but I made a mistake on the first lap of Q3 in Turn 4. I was happier with the second lap in Q3, but it wasn’t quick enough. I could have done a little bit more, so I’m keen to see the data when I get back and see where I could have improved. We’re in good shape and have been quick all weekend, so let’s see what we can do in the race - we will try to do our best.” the reigning champ told formula1.com after qualifying.
With Vettel knowing that a fourth place finish would be enough to clinch the title, it was a hesitant Vettel who headed into the first corner following the start.
Despite Australian Mark Webber probably having clear instructions to support his team-mate the Red Bull driver squeezed Vettel out into the first corner forcing the German to lose momentum and slip down the pack.
Massa had already swung around the outside and was battling for second place with Button, but the drama was to really unfold behind him.
With the Lotus of Kimi Raikonnen darting off to the outside the attention was taken away from the Williams of Bruno Senna who hit Vettel from behind and spun him around.
As the German faced a field of cars driving directly at him he avoided any more contact but slipped down to last place and suffering with damage to the floor of his car infront of his left rear wheel.
By lap eleven Vettel made the move into the pits and would be buoyed by the sight of Fernando Alonso just a few hundred yards in front of him. Both title contenders switching to the wet intermediate tyres.
On lap 23 the safety car came out for the next 6 laps to clear away all the debris for a frantic first third of the race. Amazingly Vettel had managed to recover from his first lap incident and was fifth on the re-start directly behind Fernando Alonso, with Lewis Hamilton third, Jenson Button second and Nico Hulkenburg leading.
If Vettel was envious of Felipe Massa's team driving at Ferrari before then on the re-start he would have been again wondering just what Mark Webber was up too as once again the Red Bull team-mates went side by side going into the first corner, this time though Webber was on the outside and he decided to drive off the track rather than risk contact with his team-mate.
After losing a place to Kobayashi, Vettel would lose another place on lap 34 with Felipe Massa pulling off a great move around the outside of Vettel.
On lap 55 having already made a pit stop for dry tyres, Vettel returned to the pits for another set of intermediates. The pit stop dropped him out of the top ten and with Hulkenburg crashing into Hamilton, Alonso was back into third place, handing the title once again to Alonso if the race had ended just 16 laps earlier than race distance!
But Vettel had no reason to have worried, the Red Bull was so quick that Vettel had no issues slicing his way back up to the field and when he found German compatriot Michael Schumacher, the seven time world champion pulled over to gift Vettel sixth place.
If Schumacher who was retiring from his record breaking career could have passed him a baton at this point he would have done as it was certainly that kind of moment.
Just a few laps later and the safety car was out again for a second time and with just one lap remaining the race would end behind the safety car, confirming Sebastian Vettel as the 2010, 2011 and 2012 Formula One World Champion.
'It's difficult to imagine what goes through my head now, I am so full of adrenalin. It was an incredible race, everything that could have happened to make it more difficult for us today, happened! I got turned around in Turn 4 for no reason and was heading the wrong way; so I had to get straight and was lucky no one hit me. The car was damaged and we lost speed in straights, even more as it dried up, but fortunately it started to rain again. All weekend people tried to push us in a certain direction and said if it rained it would be harder for us, but we have proven today that we like rain conditions as much as the dry. I am very, very happy. The most important thing throughout the season is that we kept pushing and remained ourselves. We just try to do our thing and stick to the route that we know and that's what made the difference. Some people try to play games, but we never get distracted, we keep going our way. Everyone at Milton Keynes and here at the circuit, they are always pushing so hard and we really stepped up our game in the second half of the season. I would like to thank everyone in the team and at Renault. There's no one in this team that feels more important than any one else, we all push together, alongside each other, it's one big force and I'm very proud of that. 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! Tomorrow I can probably say more, but now I just don't have the right words.'
Date:Wednesday November 28 2012
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