Stewart Speed writes from London: After one of the most exciting Formula 1 seasons ever Sebastian Vettel won a third consecutive world drivers’ title, despite facing in the opposite direction after just the fourth corner.
Last weekend was the last race of the 2012 Formula 1 race calendar, at Interlagos in Brazil. From the very first incident packed drama filled lap, new triple world champion Sebastian Vettel fought back to finish sixth, after a collision on lap one put him into last place.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso was the only other driver able to beat Vettel to the world title despite the Red Bull Racing man, Vettel, starting that last race 13 points ahead of Alonso. Surely after Vettel’s lap one collision the Ferrari team must have thought the title was pretty much lost. However rain was forecast and when that happens in Formula 1 anything can happen. On this occasion anything and everything possible did happen. The rain came and drivers struggled and slid all over the track on their slick tyres, resulting in the field closing up and Vettel getting right back in the running.
Alonso finished second which meant that Vettel could not be lower than seventh. In actual fact Vettel ‘was’ in seventh place until Michael Schumacher, driving his last ever Formula 1 race, gave Vettel an easy pass to take the sixth place. The two German drivers have been friends for many years with Vettel, as a kid in karting, looking up to his countryman as a role model for his future in F1.
As a last race to what was already a spectacular Formula 1 season they don’t get much better. There were cars spinning off the track, shunts and drama from start to finish. The rain came, stopped and then returned heavier than ever. Vettel’s car was damaged from lap one after the shunt from behind and subsequent spin, yet he battled on until the end and finished exactly where he needed to, with a place in hand.
Vettel has become the youngest driver in history to win three world titles. Had Alonso won the title instead he would have also achieved this same feat. Vettel is also only the third driver ever in history to win three world titles in succession.
During the final laps Vettel continued to push harder and harder for the fastest lap. There were frequent radio calls from his Red Bull team urging him to slow down, especially as the weather conditions were poor, reminding him that his position was good enough to win the title. Of course the born racer in Vettel made him want to race as hard as he always does but there must have been some very nervous team members and sponsors, not just at the track, during those closing laps.
‘It is difficult to imagine what goes through my head now even for myself,’ Vettel said. ‘I am full of adrenaline and if you poke me now I wouldn’t feel it. It was an incredible race. When you get turned around at Turn Four for no reason and it is like heading the wrong way down the motorway. It is not the most comfortable feeling. I was lucky no-one hit me but the car was damaged and we lost a lot of speed, especially when it dried up. Fortunately it started to rain again and I felt so much happier.’
Worthy of a mention was McLaren’s Jenson Button who was the eventual winner of the Brazilian Grand Prix and what he called, ‘the craziest race ever’, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso second, followed by his teammate Felipe Massa in third place.
At the end of a blistering season here’s how the Drivers’ and Constructors’ titles panned out:
The final F1 Drivers’ Championship Standings Top 3:
1. Sebastian Vettel Red Bull 281 pts
2. Fernando Alonso Ferrari 278 pts
3. Kimi Raikkonen Lotus 207 pts
The final Constructors’ Championship Standings Top 3:
1. Red Bull-Renault 460 pts
2. Ferrari 400 pts
3. McLaren-Mercedes 378 pts
Congratulations to team Red Bull-Renault and their driver Sebastian Vettel for achieving three consecutive world championship titles, especially after a shaky start to the season.
All in all 2012 was the most exciting and varied Formula 1 season ever. We can only hope that the FIA doesn’t make too many changes to the rules over the winter. There are many changes to the team lineups to come over the next few months, before the first race, on 17 March 2013 in Melbourne, Australia.
As the chequered flag falls on one of the best ever F1 seasons, you can expect your next fix with all of the goings on, driver changes, rule changes, movements and financial exuberance surrounding the Formula 1 world, in the early part of 2013. Until then, keep it on the black stuff.