Brazilian Grand Prix: Vettel and Red Bull end the year in style

Brazilian GP top three on the podium

Brazilian GP top three on the podium

Sebastian Vettel  has achieved what no other driver in the history of Formula 1 has, by winning his ninth consecutive Formula 1 race when he took top honours in the Brazilian Grand Prix, 19th and final round of the 2013 Formula 1 World Championship, in a race which he again dominated despite a slip up at the start.

The rain which drenched Sao Paulo on the first two days of the weekend, stayed away for the race but the skies, laden with rain bearing clouds, were an ever present worry for the teams.

Yet, it was another flawless performance by a driver and team combination who are at the absolute top of their game and etching their achievements into the sport’s history books.

However this time Vettel was almost let down by  his normally flawless Red Bull crew, when he came in for his final stop they appeared to be searching for his tyres – a delay which cost him about three seconds. When he entered the pits he had a dozen seconds in hand on teammate Mark Webber who had worked his way into second place. When they emerged the gap was down to about six seconds.

Sebastian Vettel celebrates with what is now becoming traditional donuts after winning the Brazilian GP

Sebastian Vettel celebrates with what is now becoming traditional donuts after winning the Brazilian GP

For Vettel it has been a remarkable journey, despite wrapping up the title six races ago in Korea, he continued his relentless pursuit of victories as if rubbing salt in to the wounds of his rivals, with relish.

The German said afterwards, “I am actually quite sad the season is coming to an end. The car has been phenomenal and has been getting better [with] every race. It was very difficult at the end today with the rain but I am extremely proud and a big thanks to the team and a big thanks to Renault as well. Thanks to Mark – we didn’t have the best of relationships but we have also have always had a lot of respect for each other and we have been a very successful pairing for the team.”

Webber’s final race as a Formula 1 driver mirrored the last four years of his career: playing second fiddle to his younger teammate, suffering the major share of any bad luck dished to the blues – this time a couple of tardy pit stops, the last of which had him queue up behind the number one car…

Nevertheless the Australian can leave with his head held high. He and Vettel are  undisputedly the most successful driver pairing in the history of the sport. It was a touching and historic moment, after crossing the line in second place, as he drove the Red Bull to parc ferme for the final time, taking off his helmet on the slow down lap, the wind to blowing into his face – conjuring up memories of the eighties when this was common practice by the likes of Gilles Villeneuve and Didier Pironi – simply unforgettable.

Mark Webber's final lap as a Formula 1 driver

Mark Webber’s final lap as a Formula 1 driver

Team principal Christian Horner summed up the sentiment over the radio to Webber, “Fantastic race, it’s been brilliant working with you. You can be proud of what you’ve done, we certainly are.”

Formula 1’s elder statesman, the straight talking, no bullsh*t bloke retired in style and to add the cherry on the cake he set the fastest lap of all in his final appearance at a grand prix. He made his mark.

“It was a good finish to my career. I want to thank Seb, Fernando, Lewis all the guys who have been in window the last few years. I want to thank everyone in Australia and I want to thank everyone who has helped me – they know who they are,” said Webber.

And added, “In this sport it’s not always easy to have the personal touch. I just thought it would be nice to get  [the helmet] off and see the marshals and the fans and hear a lot of noises I am not used to hearing. The difficult part today was getting in the car, I was overcome with emotion, I did it but it was the strongest emotion I had had all day. I enjoyed the last lap and I made it last as long as I possibly could.”

It was also fitting that sharing the podium with him, after a gutsy drive to take third, was his mate Fernando Alonso. The Ferrari driver was best of the rest, although there was a point when it seemed as if he may be able to take the fight to the World Champions, but it was not to be despite the rare pitstop fumble by the energy drinks outfit.

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in parc ferme after the race

Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel in parc ferme after the race

Alonso said of his afternoon’s graft, “It was a difficult race for everyone. The rain did not come and we would have been more competitive in the wet. It seemed like it was going to rain at any time but it didn’t and it was a shame for us…but to finish on the podium means we finish the season on a high. Next year we look forwards.”

Drive of the day would probably go to Jenson Button, last year’s winner at the same venue, who salvaged some pride for his team with fourth place which was their best finish of a well below par season. The 2009 World Champion started from 12th on the grid and delivered the kind of performance, in tricky conditions, which has become his trademark.

Nico Rosberg qualified on the front row and along with his Mercedes team would have expected to be capable of fighting at least for a podium position. It all got off to a rather dandy start for the Silver Arrows as Rosberg blitzed the start and took the lead, looking good until the exit of Junção and the drive up the hill towards the start straight.

That’s when the penny dropped; Rosberg was not able to get the power down, a problem that afflicts the W04 in cooler conditions. Thus Vettel got good drive out of Junção, and even without DRS, cruised past. For Rosberg and teammate Lewis Hamilton it was a frustrating afternoon, with 5th and 9th their reward.

Nico Rosberg led briefly

Nico Rosberg led briefly

Hamilton was in the wars, banging wheels with Valterri Bottas at Descida do Lago causing the Williams driver to go off the track with a broken left rear wheel, while the Mercedes escaped with a burst tyre and limped around for a a new set of boots before being given a drive through penalty for causing the collision.

Nevertheless the pair did enough to clinch second place in the Construtor’s Championship for Mercedes compared to fifth place which they achieved 12 months earlier.

Sergio Perez arguably drove his best race of the season, in his final race as a McLaren driver. After crashing out of qualifying and taking a five-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change, he toiled hard and impressived by carving his way from 19th on the grid to sixth place.

Next up was local hero Felipe Massa racing for the final time in Formula 1 for Ferrari. He managed a great start and like his teammate Alonso, looked very strong early in the race. Uncannily he was in the throes of an entertaining ding-dong with his nemesis Hamilton, when the race stewards adjudged he had overstepped the boundaries of the pit entry and slapped him with a drive through. Seventh was his final finish as in red.

Jenson Button finished fourth

Jenson Button finished fourth

Nico Hulkenberg survived several wheel to wheel battles to take eighth, ahead of Hamilton in ninth with Daniel Ricciardo claiming the final point in his final race as a Toro Rosso driver. Red Bull beckons for the young Australian.

It was heartache for Lotus as Romain Grosjean, desperately seeking his first win stopped with a blown engine on lap two, while, Kimi Raikkonen’s stand-in, Heikki Kovalainen botched the start big time and thereafter never really recovered. He finished 14th in car that has been within sight of a podium for most of the year. A miserable end to a once promising season, which may well precede a miserable winter for the cash-strapped outfit.

Final word to the 2010, 2011, 2012, 2103 World Champion Sebastian Vettel on equalling Alberto Ascari’s record of nine straight Formula 1 victories “I think it’s not fair [to compare]. It’s a different time at his time, cars broke down a lot more, teams weren’t as consistent. I think it’s a different type of record. For all of us in the whole team, we just love turning up to work and giving it all we have. It’s a great spirit we have in the team. It’s sad in a way that this year comes to an end, but that’s how it is. I’m sure everyone is looking forward to the break to recover.” (GP247)

Subbed by AJN.

Race winner Sebastian Vettel celebrates on the podium

Race winner Sebastian Vettel celebrates on the podium

Brazilian Grand Prix, Autodromo Carlos Pace – Sunday, 24 November 2013

Pos No Driver Team Laps Time Grid Pts
1 1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 71 1:32:36.300 1 25
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 71 +10.4 secs 4 18
3 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari 71 +18.9 secs 3 15
4 5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 71 +37.3 secs 14 12
5 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes 71 +39.0 secs 2 10
6 6 Sergio Perez McLaren-Mercedes 71 +44.0 secs 19 8
7 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari 71 +49.1 secs 9 6
8 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber-Ferrari 71 +64.2 secs 10 4
9 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes 71 +72.9 secs 5 2
10 19 Daniel Ricciardo STR-Ferrari 70 +1 Lap 7 1
11 14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 70 +1 Lap 12
12 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber-Ferrari 70 +1 Lap 17
13 15 Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 70 +1 Lap 15
14 7 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Renault 70 +1 Lap 11
15 18 Jean-Eric Vergne STR-Ferrari 70 +1 Lap 8
16 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 70 +1 Lap 16
17 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia-Cosworth 69 +2 Laps 21
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham-Renault 69 +2 Laps 20
19 23 Max Chilton Marussia-Cosworth 69 +2 Laps 22
Ret 20 Charles Pic Caterham-Renault 58 Mechanical 18
Ret 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams-Renault 45 Accident 13
Ret 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 2 Engine 6

Note – Perez originally qualified 14th, but received a 5-place grid penalty for an unscheduled gearbox change.

 

  • MAD EEVE

    Boring race except when the wheels were lost. Gosh why is vettel’s engine so reliable?

  • Ukwhite

    That is because he may be the chosen one, who knows…

    Mark on 3rd in standings, great result he can be proud of.

    397 points, boy, Vettel could have beaten its own team with a few more races.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    Alonso should have also celebrated on the podium like Webber – this was his last race as the Nr 1 driver for Ferrari. Next year Raikkonen takes charge.

  • ZombieF1

    Love it or hate it. Vettel is a living legend.

  • Daniel Ordaz C

    Perez drove a better race than anybody else

  • fools

    Great Job Alonso holding 3rd and 2nd in WDC :)

    Great Job Perez! 19th to 6th…wow.

    Farewell Webber…great to see him on top form on his exit in F1. Will always be remembered as a class act and gentleman driver and racer.

    Farewell to V-8 Engines… R.I.P.

    ALONSO FOR THE 2014 WDC TURBO ERA!

  • Ukwhite

    Another 4th place in standings for Lewis. With so many since he won his championship, the question is if he is the true racer some may say. With his ways, being rebirth from own ashes is less probable.

  • Ukwhite

    Webber today about Vettel and Alonso: “They have been the best of this generation and to finish on the podium with them was nice”.

    I remember somebody saying on this forum Vettel was on the same level with Masa. But of course Mark has no idea what he was talking about.

  • the fan

    the race happened from the 2nd place down to the end of the field. glad that this season is over.

    Alonso_is_slow
    24 November, 2013 at 10:28 pm
    Alonso should have also celebrated on the podium like Webber – this was his last race as the Nr 1 driver for Ferrari. Next year Raikkonen takes charge.

    – so this is your reaction after alonso beats his team mate again? as expected from a world class idiot like you who hates facts.

  • Tamburello_1994

    Hey Gprix247;

    Thanks for providing great coverage again this year, and for the forum for us to opine about it.

    Enjoy the winter off. (or summer for you southern hemi peeps.)

  • Garth

    Mad Eeve you must have been watching something else it was anything but boring. A great ending for Marks career hope he does well in the endurance series. I think Red Bull will struggle for the constructors next year without him, D.R. nice bloke for sure but mark has left big shoes to fill. Daniel will seriously need to up his game or he may be changing places with as Marko said Big Balls Kvyat.

  • Alonso_is_slow

    @the fag: haha, so beating the teammate once with a penalty is your fact base.

    Loosing out in two championships while not being able to overtake slower cars, crashing for no reason, and being outqualified in series by a pathetic teammate is no visible fact for your elevated mind.

    Typically fooled alonbie.

    Pleass cry more, i need this entertainment:-)

  • shashank

    he wrapped up his f1 title in india.. above its mentioned korea..

  • the fan

    slow… seriously speaking I never thought id see someone dumb as you are. yes i do understand you didnt get his autograph hence the hate but really? you’re just too much of a hater to justify your “so call facts”. you are a proven liar who post lies after lies anyways, but I have to admit, with all the intelligence and reasonable posters here, its refreshing to see some comedy from someone like you. you’re right, its really entertaining. i rest my case then. its hard to argue with an idiot who will drag you down to their level and beat you with experience:)