Brazilian GP – The Race and Title Decider

Vettel, the youngest triple World Champion ever!

Rollercoaster. Emotional. Chaotic. Thrilling. Heart-breaking. Crazy. Momentous. Nerve-wracking. Unbelievable. Dramatic. Intense. Extraordinary. And Funny (thank you, Kimi!). There are not enough superlatives nor indeed words to adequately sum up yesterday’s incredible race at Interlagos, truly the Track of Kings. This race will go down in the annals of F1 history as One Of The Greatest Races Of All Time. A magnificent end to an epic season.
Cover me I’m going in. I may be some time.
Having saturated my brain with every second of the epic build-up – flicking wildly between the two channels (when the adverts came on or the presenters just started getting on my nerves which took about 10 seconds in the case of Simon Lazenby), I was pretty much a nervous wreck by the time Martin commenced his trundle down the pitlane. Not sure why I was feeling so emotional. Perhaps because it has been such a stupendous season, or I was channelling the extreme tension of the imminent Alonso v Vettel showdown or it was the last time I would ever see Schuey in a F1 race. I have just loved this season so so much that I was practically sobbing to think this was the final #MartinsGridWalk of The Season and we had now properly reached the Endgame. This beautiful, incredible season was about to end, we would be without F1 for FOUR whole months and on its return, the F1 landscape would look very different. End Of An Era.

Weather forecast – fiction or fact?

But back to #MartinsGridwalk (and I’m now armed with a 3 shot expresso so emotions are in check) and Martin told us Friday’s track temperature had been 55°c and today (race day) it was now 25°c. A 30°c difference – what could it all mean? Actually no one told us. The BIG news was that the weather looked ok and all those daft people who thought it would be ‘all about the weather’ were completely, utterly, totally wrong.
Mark Webber as ever was on hand for a word. Apparently it was a cool track which was good as the McLarens were quick in the hot conditions so they’re going to make the McLarens work for it and be crafty around the stops. Thanks Mark.

Mark: Why does your car never have problems?
Seb: Ask Adrian. At least you don’t have to wear this dumb hat.
Weather update: Martin told us he could feel spots of rain coming down. Did no one notice the big black clouds earlier? Even the 5 year old had spotted them.
Time for a chat with Nelson Piquet. He said Alonso and Vettel had both done a good job and it was difficult to say who would win (thanks Nelson for those insightful words). He then cryptically mentioned he had a big job on in Brazil. Er right you are. Martin was still stalking Jenson Button but JB was deep in conversation with his physio, Mikey Muscles. Maybe they were just shooting the breeze but kind of odd to be chatting with your physio of all people moments before a race.

Nelson back in the carefree days of youth

Weather update: It was now spitting with rain. Not just drops but actual SPITS. Someone alert NASA, this could be a Situation.
Martin killed some time by talking to Sam Michael of McLaren who also gave us a weather update. There was no weather front coming through, they expected a light shower but would be able to stay on slicks. Finally, we heard from JB who was aiming to win the race, didn’t know what was going on with the rain and he didn’t care about the championship (ie. because he wasn’t going to win it ever again). 
Martin asked Bernie was he excited (hello, have you EVER seen Bernie look excited) and he said it was just another race and he hoped there was no rain and had actually tried to stop it (hidden subtext: he is God – because that joke isn’t old already). Adrian Newey didn’t want to be interviewed because as the husband said he didn’t want to speak to any humans. It was funny at the time but then I was also in an emotionally fragile place at 3.55pm on Sunday.
We then literally stumbled upon Rob Smedley sending a text (cue hilarious ‘illegal’ text joke) but it turned out he was texting his wife and when asked to give her a message to the camera, he said ‘I love you’. How gorgeous is Rob Smedley. More please, next year.

Rob Smedley – Massa’s engineer and all round lovely guy (bit like Massa really)

So the Brazil grid lined up as follows*
*Basically irrelevant after the first lap
1.
Hamilton
2.
Button
3.
Webber
4.
Vettel
5.
Massa
6.
Hulkenberg
7.
Alonso
8.
Kimi (uh-oh)
9.
Rosberg
10.
Di Resta
And It Was Time For the Start and Go Go Go…!
Massa had a great start and nearly took 2nd place but Button just squeezed him out. Vettel had a SLOW start. He was so frigging slow that he caused Kimi (right behind him) to suddenly brake meaning Kimi had to take evasive action by heading off track on a small detour. Maybe Kimi would have just done this anyway. See later.
And then we had a DRAMATIC AND POTENTIALLY TITLE-DECIDING INCIDENT. Vettel still driving like a nervous 17 year old turned in from a wide position right across Bruno Senna. The two cars made contact causing Vettel to spin and Senna to plough into Perez. Shall we guess which two drivers of the three had their race abruptly terminated? Clue: Not Vettel. Red Bull radioed to say they couldn’t fix the damage and he just had to stay out there.

Lets play spot Vettel. He is in the car pointing a different way to everyone else!

Meanwhile, perhaps heartened by the carnage behind him, Alonso brilliantly took Webber and then, less surprisingly, Massa to move into 3rd place. There was then some marvellous defensive driving from Felipe to shield Alonso from the Red Bull of Webber.
Race as it stands: Vettel 22nd, Alonso 3rd
Title as it stands: Vettel 273, Alonso 275 – Alonso wins
Nico Hulkenberg was suddenly the man to watch – he was charging around Interlagos and passed Webber for P4 on lap 4. Then suddenly on the next lap, Alonso went OFF THE TRACK. He messed up his braking and the Hulk shot past. Alonso rejoined and battled fantastically well to keep Webber (just) behind him! Massa was doing an awesome job as Alonso’s wingman, managing to somehow keep the huge traffic jam of cars behind him and protect Alonso into the bargain.
We then heard that Schuey had pitted. What already? For crying in a bucket. Then on lap 7 there were crashes left, right and centre. First, Grosjean clipped the edge of the white line and went hurtling off at turn 11 and then Webber got hit by Kobayashi. Conditions were starting to get very treacherous out there. Lovely jubbly.
Ferrari Doom Alert: On lap 8, we saw that Vettel was all of a sudden now up to 8th place!!!! Er would someone like to keep us posted on the FOURTEEN places that Vettel in his damaged car appeared to have made up in about 5 laps. Some might say that there was an argument to make that DRS makes overtaking too easy, unless perhaps Vettel is really the New Senna. Hey silly me, that’s Maldonado! Button was really hassling Hamilton for the lead (I bet Hamilton never thought Button would be anywhere close to him when JB signed for McLaren…still that’s another story). They swapped the lead a couple of times then on lap 8, Button seized the lead of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Ferrari Doom Alert: Vettel was now up to seventh. I think in real time, I may have passed out at this point.

Button charging down Hamilton

Race as it stands: Vettel 7th, Alonso 4th
Title as it stands: Vettel 279, Alonso 272 – Vettel wins
Schuey had pitted again and had gone onto hard tyres apparently. What!? It is RAINING. Has Mercedes not noticed all the people sliding off all over the place. *Despairs*. I have noted that Ricciardo and Vergne crashed around this point – there are no further details as with the greatest of respect, did it really matter?
On lap 9, Webber was sent into the pits as the Red Bull Guinea-Pig to try out a set of inters. Then on lap 11, the Important Pitstops began in earnest. Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso all came in and also went onto inters. The two title contenders, Alonso and Vettel, slotted back in at 12th place and 17thplace. Button who just excels in these 50/50 unpredictable conditions stayed out and I wrote down ‘Hungary 2011’ which of course JB won. Just saying. So race order following the pitstop merry-go-round was 1. Button 2. Hulk 3. Hamilton 4. Massa and 5. Vergne (who was still going….well who knew?).
By lap 14, Alonso was P6 and Vettel was P10. Alonso scorched past Vergne and then Massa for 4th place and Vettel was now up to P6. So basically this race was turning out to be an endless saga of Vettel falling to the back of the grid and making up 12 positions every few laps! Totally, utterly bonkers and spare a thought for Christian ‘Pepe’ Horner who looked on the verge of a nervous breakdown on the pitwall.

How stressed was Christian Horner feeling? Or Pepe as I like to think of him!

Race as it stands: Vettel 6th, Alonso 4th
Title points haul as it stands: Vettel 281, Alonso 272 – Vettel wins
Meanwhile the Hulk was having an absolutely BLINDER. Previously on my blogs, I have raved about the huge potential of the Hulk. Really think McLaren missed a trick there opting for Perez over him. The Hulk was powering down behind Jenson putting him under extreme pressure for the lead and on lap 18, he did just that. The Hulk actually took THE LEAD OF THE BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX.
Vettel was now in 5th place (no need for ‘as it stands’ – just ever more likely he would win the title) and was now just 3 seconds behind Alonso. Newey was busy staring at a photograph of Vettel’s damaged car. In the way that some people love fine art, I feel that Adrian in his spare time just wanders around car showrooms looking at exhausts.

Exhaust-Land (it probably won’t catch on)
Brundle said he had never commentated on an opening 20 laps of a race like this one. You’re not wrong, Martin and try having a 2 year old in the room asking you to open up the Tellytubbies app every 5 seconds. Time for some more IMPORTANT PITSTOPS. Hamilton in, Alonso in and Vettel in – all going onto dry tyres (presumably Mercedes were calling in Michael for some wets – sorry, not funny I know). The upshot of the pitstops was that Alonso still led Vettel.

Race as it stands: Vettel 5th, Alonso 4th

Title points haul as it stands: Vettel 283, Alonso 272 – Vettel wins (spotting a trend here?)

Lap 21 and Rosberg had sustained a puncture and the 5 year old noticed TO HIS HORROR that Schuey was 20th and in last place. And a lap down. FFS and other related swearword abbreviations. Mercedes must surely be one of the worst teams EVER in the history of F1 in terms of points return for millions spent. The one silver lining of Schuey’s retirement is that he will never ever have to drive that clapped out rustbucket of a car again.
We heard that Vettel’s exhaust outlet was damaged. Like that matters in an Adrian Newey Indestructible Machine. And there was absolutely stacks of debris everywhere out on track. Alonso radioed in to report this and with lightning quick speed, it was decreed time to bring out the SAFETY CAR. No truly great race is complete without the appearance of the Safety Car. Bizarrely I have noticed that ‘Safety Car’ often trends during races. How much can one say about a Safety Car? Maybe it’s the shock of seeing a Mercedes actually able to move at a reasonable pace without shredding its tyres every 5 seconds.

Debris everywhere. Time for Alonso to call Charlie Whiting…

Anyway never have I been SO glad to see a Safety Car as I was seriously losing the plot. Button and Hulk used this interval to nip into the pits and all the lapped cars were able to unlap themselves including Schuey. Mercedes, hang your heads in shame, this is what you have reduced Michael Schumacher to.
On lap 30, the Safety Car was in and it was Go Go Go. Again. At the restart, Vettel, Webber and Kobayashi were three abreast coming down the main straight and predictably Webber freaked out, ran wide and bombed back down to 14thplace.
The race order was: 1. Hulk 2. Button 3. Hamilton 4. Alonso 5. Kobayashi and 6. Vettel. Lewis was absolutely flying and passed Button for 2nd place. Then (so not in the script), Kamui and Alonso swapped places a couple of times. Meanwhile Vettel, driving the serene drive of someone who is in an Adrian Newey bulletproof car knows he only has to finish in the top 7 (unless Alonso wins the race – unlikely given the two McLarens and the Hulk were in front of him unless….), happily let the chomping-at-the-bit Massa through for 6thplace.

An early prototype of the Red Bull RB8

In contrasting fortunes for two Brits, Lewis was setting a succession of fastest laps and Paul Di Resta was attempting to drive around Interlagos sideways. Hey Paul, have a word with your team-mate…he’ll give you a few pointers.
Race as it stands: Vettel 7th, Alonso 4th
Title points haul as it stands: Vettel 279, Alonso 272 – Vettel wins (yawn)
Weather update:There was drizzle in the air. Please god no, all the drivers have only just gone back onto slicks.
Kimi and Schumacher were meanwhile rolling back the years and having an amazing battle for 10th place. The cars were side by side, a hair’s breath apart as they battled for three corners before Kimi fought his way past. What is it with those two? They have never-say-die racing just hard-wired into them.

Kimi and Schuey – one last battle to savour

Weather update:It was raining quite a lot. Alonso was really starting to lose pace and Lewis was making huge inroads into the Hulk’s lead. Webber had a moment (not a good way – usual schoolboy error etc) and Petrov randomly spun. It was getting very tasty out on track. Lots of shots of the Weather Monitor of Doom. Vettel was told more rain was coming and Rosberg was told the rain would end soon. Hmmmm, Mercedes or Red Bull…who would you believe? Crofty told us all he knew was that there was a 100% chance of weather. Cheers, Crofty.
Lap 49 and Hamilton took THE LEAD OF THE BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX after the Hulk had a spin. Then suddenly, on lap 53, Vettel came into the pits to move onto the option slicks. We saw a big crack in the floor of his car from that exhaust damage. Yeh, you’re just teasing us now.
We suddenly caught sight of Kimi going down a random road that wasn’t part of the track. Say what?! Turned out to be an escape road which had a dead end so he did a quick spin (in his hugely expensively assembled F1 car) and rejoined the race via a small grassy field. You’d have to be on some pretty super-strength blood pressure tablets if you worked for Lotus. Kimi and Grosjean to contend with. Blimey.

In the Parallel Universe of Kimi…

From this point my notes descend into gibberish but bear with me. The end is nigh!
Lap 55 and A HUGE DRAMATIC INCIDENT. The Hulk in trying to pass Lewis on the inside, lost control and skidded on a wet area of track, crashing into the race leader. HAMILTON WAS OUT OF THE RACE. And this meant that Button took THE LEAD OF THE BRAZILIAN GRAND PRIX. Strewth. But more importantly, it meant that ALONSO WAS LEADING THE DRIVERS CHAMPIONSHIP. I don’t have the ‘as it stands’ numbers but just trust me.

And there endeth Hamilton’s career at McLaren

Vettel then careered into the pits for a set of inters and none of his mechanics were ready for him. He lost 12 ‘Formula 1’ seconds which equates to about 12 hours of normal time unless you’re in an Adrian Newey car.
THEN A HUGE MOMENT on lap 56 as Alonso nearly crashed his car into the barrier. Oddly, out of all the numerous dramatic moments of the race, my decibel output was the loudest at seeing this. My hysterical shouting caused the 2 year old to burst into tears and the husband had to explain that ‘Mummy wasn’t cross just a bit overwrought’. As the rain got heavier, Alonso bolted into the pits and whacked on a set of inters and rejoined in 4th place.
Weather update:New rain was developing and would last for round 20 minutes (oh until the end of the race). New rain hey?

Mercedes forecast says sun. Everyone else’s says rain

Lap 58 and the race order was 1. Button 2. Massa 3. Alonso 4. Hulk (drive-through penalty pending) 5. Webber and 6. Schumacher. WHAT!?! How was Schumacher 6thand AHEAD OF VETTEL. I know its been a crazy race in the rain and all that but…oh yes, the rain. Of course. Never bet against the Rainmeister in the wet. Then I remember it was Schuey’s last ever race. Sobs a silent tear.
Race as it stands: Vettel 7th, Alonso 3th
Title points haul as it stands: Vettel 279, Alonso 275 – Vettel wins
SCREAM! We had a sighting of Owen Wilson in the Ferrari Garage. This means we have a Repeat Random Celebrity at a Race. You may remember Owen from such races as the Malaysian Grand Prix at the start of the season where he BLANKED the minor F1 deity that is Martin Brundle. Owen, you may have been to 2 whole F1 races but you are still dead to me (probably an inappropriate thing to say in the case of Owen Wilson but anyway).

Owen Wilson – nice to see he makes time for Bernie

Weather update:Rain was continuing to fall and teams started getting the full wet tyres ready. Button was asked if he was happy on his tyres and he said ‘Roger’. How very WW2.
On lap 62, Alonso took Massa for 2nd place and yet this still meant that Vettel would win the world title by one point. No matter anyway as on lap 64, Vettel passed Schuey (with little resistance) for 6th place. To be fair, Vettel was now lapping (in his broken car with a cracked floor…go figure) a whole second faster than anyone else. So all done and dusted.
BUT NO. There was still time for Schuey and Kobayashi to have a lively scrap for 7thplace resulting in Kamui taking a spin. And also there was still time for the forgotten man (for a reason) of Force India, Paul Di Resta, to crash quite spectacularly. The race was yellow-flagged and out came the Safety Car on the final lap which was all very anti-climactic but a suitably surreal end to a craz-eeeee race.
So here are the results from the Brazilian Grand Prix 2012:
1.     Button – Never bet against this guy in wet weather conditions. Superb race and his win means he amassed more points than Hamilton in their 3 years together at McLaren.
2.     Alonso – A fantastic, gutsy drive as we would expect from such a fine driver.
3.     Massa – Some real wingman heroics and he really found form at the end of 2012.
4.     Webber – Yet another 4thplace for Mark Webber to add to the collection.
5.     Hulkenberg – An incredible performance!
6.    Vettel – He won’t care that he’s not on the podium as he is the TRIPLE WORLD CHAMPION.
7.    Schumacher – All things considered (ie. his rubbish car) a wonderful result and great he finished in the points in his final race.
8.     Vergne – I confess to knowing little of his race story but 8th is pretty darn good.
9.     Kobayashi – Is it really farewell? This guy so deserves a drive next year.
10.  Kimi – Not a vintage race but still Mr Reliable (arf) in the points again.
11.  Petrov – Hugely significant. This meant that Caterham finished ahead of Marussia in the constructors which in turn means a huge £££ prize for Caterham.

Jenson Button – winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix 2012

And so we have a new triple world champion (the youngest one ever) and turns out he is German not Spanish. Lets salute the mega-talented Sebastian Vettel, only the 3rd driver in F1 history to win three consecutive titles (after Fangio and Schumacher). The moment where Schuey embraced Vettel in parc ferme felt very symbolic. Very much a changing of the guard. In contrast, Alonso’s shell-shocked and devastated expression was heart-breaking. That’s the two sides of sport laid bare. Here’s the final breakdown of points.

Schumacher congratulating Vettel

The end of the dream

Drivers Championship:
1.     Vettel 281
2.     Alonso 278
3.     Raikkonen 207
4.     Hamilton 190
5.     Button 188
6.     Webber 179
7.     Massa 122
8.     Grosjean 96
Constructors Championship:
1. Red Bull 460
2. Ferrari 400
3. McLaren 378
4. Lotus 303
5. Mercedes 142
6. Sauber 126



7. Force India 107
8. Williams 76
And so the world of F1 bids farewell to the Legendary Michael Schumacher. Other drivers who may be following him out the door are Kamui Kobayashi (unbelievable after his podum at Suzuka), Heikki Kovalainen, Bruno Senna, the entire HRT Team and F1’s resident bad boys, Grosjean and Maldonado, are not yet confirmed for 2013.

And we thank you, Michael!

So the curtain falls on an incredible season – we’ve covered a lot of ground since Melbourne back in March. A big shout out to the husband for pushing me (it took a lot of persuasion!) into starting my blog at the start of the year. I have love love loved blogging about this season and meeting so many amazing F1 fans. I’m going to sign off now before I get too emotional…
And, as they say, I guess that’s a wrap. Well for this season at least! I’ll still be blogging through the dark days of winter to keep the withdrawal symptoms at bay. First up, the coveted A Dash of Eau Rouge F1 Oscars for 2012…coming soon…!

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