Date:Friday November 30 2012
Fernando Alonso went into the Brazilian Grand Prix 13 points behind Championship leader Sebastian Vettel.
The form book was pretty clear, Red Bull had outperformed Ferrari throughout the second half of the season and if everything in Brazil played out as expected than Vettel was likely to take the title.
One of Ferrari's major disappointments this season has been its qualifying form for Alonso to have the best possible chance come Sunday, he needed a decent qualifying session to improve his position on the grid.
But Ferrari were unable to find any improvements and Alonso had to settle for eighth, although this was then bumped to seventh following Pastor Malonado receiving a grid penalty after qualifying had ended.
ďIím not surprised at this position, because itís not as though we can expect a revolution in performance terms in the space of a week. I think I did a good qualifying and, given how the last few races have gone, my chances of making it to the podium are still intact. That will be my objective because I know that, at least under normal circumstances, we are not in with a chance of fighting for the win. I also know that, if I am to have any hopes for the title, itís more plausible to count on a retirement for Vettel rather than for him to finish in a position where I can get ahead of him in the classification. Obviously, I am therefore hoping for a chaotic race and so the rain could be an important factor even if, in the wet, it is riskier for everyone. The car is not particularly set up for the wet, as itís not like it used to be. Felipein front of me? He did a great qualifying, above the norm, so itís to be expected. Itís almost a miracle to have arrived at the last race still in the fight for the title: under normal circumstances I think we would have said goodbye to our chances back in Monza or Singapore. However, here we are, still in the game and we are definitely not going to surrender today.Ē he told formula1.com on Saturday evening.
The start wasn't great for Alonso, while Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa enjoyed a great start zipping past both Red Bull's going into the first corner.
But with Sebastian Vettel spinning in the mayhem of the first few turns, Alonso saw his chance to take third place from Mark Webber on the first corner of lap two, beautifully engineered by Felipe Massa who sent Mark Webber down the outside of him, opening the door for Fernando Alonso to take two position in one turn and take third place.
If the race had ended there, Fernando Alonso would have been crowned World Champion, as third place with Vettel failing to score would have been good enough.
By lap five with Vettel down in seventeenth a mistake from Alonso in the slippery conditions meant that Nico Hulkenburg in the Force India took the crucial third place away from Alonso and the Red Bull of Mark Webber began to swarm all over the back of the Spaniard.
On lap eleven the conditions had deteriorated enough to make the move onto the wet intermediate tyres, Alonso dived into the pitlane, covered by Vettel who had fought his way back up through the field following his spin on the opening lap.
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.
Alonso didn't have the pace to battle with the race leaders, but on lap 55 the pendulum had swung once again in Alonso's favour.
Red Bull had got their tyre call wrong meaning that Vettel had to pit again for intermediates after initially swapping to dry tyres, whilst a collision between Hulkenburg and Hamilton for the race lead at left Alonso elevated back into third position. As it stood Alonso would be world champion.
Vettel however was carving his way through the field and had already got back up to sixth place by the time Massa moved over to hand Alonso second place.
It was a gladiatorial season for Alonso whose Ferrari car very rarely gave him the right to fight for this championship, but the Spaniard dragged that under-performing Ferrari onto the podium 13 times this season, with three victories to his credit.
A philosophical Alonso said after the race: ďI score this season a 10! If we had to repeat these twenty races I would change nothing done by the team or yours truly: no mistakes, no mechanical problems, zero problems at the pit stops, zero strategic mistakes. We definitely did not lose the title today, as that happened in Spa or Suzuka. We might not have finished the season with the most points, but we won many other things, like everyoneís respect and fans and colleagues agree on who was the best this year. I am proud of the job I did and that was also the case last year when I finished fourth and again this time when I fought right to the very end. Today is very different to Abu Dhabi: then, there was the frustration of an opportunity missed, whereas here we did our utmost race after race. I feel happy inside: I worked day after day with the team, which pays me at the end of every month and today, they can be proud of what theyíve done. Once again today we did an impeccable job, finishing on the podium after starting from the fourth row, producing yet another little Sunday miracle. The team kept me constantly updated about Vettel and, towards the end, I was hoping something might happen to him or Button which would allow us to reach our goal. It didnít happen and we must accept the result delivered on the race track. What to ask from the team for 2013? Thatís easy, a quicker car, but most of all Iíd like to see the same effort and professionalism the team displayed when it reacted to our initial difficulties. Even if maybe we didnít manage to reach the performance level of the best, everyone demonstrated total dedication. I repeat, I am happy and proud and nowís the time to drink a caipirinha!Ē
Date:Friday November 30 2012
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