With intermittent rain defining the entire seventy-one lap affair, the German overcame a first lap incident and despite damage and everything else in his path battling back to an all-important sixth. The Red Bull star sustained damage in contact with Bruno Senna and Sergio Perez in to the Descida do Lago, but remarkably survived and carried on, unlike the Williams and Sauber stars.
As conditions worsened the opening stages also saw early exits for the second Williams of Pastor Maldonado and Lotus’s Romain Grosjean, raising the stakes and just adding to the work load for the pilots.
Try as he may to complicate matters, Fernando Alonso narrowly missed out on the crown; forced to settle for second after a competent display from the Spaniard. Despite another start the Spaniard did not have the overall pace for victory, but once again put his car in the right position when it mattered.
For the majority of the race it looked as though Interlagos would produce a surprise winner, with Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg revelling in conditions to lead by lap nineteen. Thereafter the German and Button remained on slicks and continued to pull away from the pack, as rivals opted to stop.
Even a safety car to clear up debris and changeable track conditions could not deter the duo who, joined by Hamilton, once again began stretching away from the field. As the McLaren’s changed positions Hulkenberg would lose his lead on lap forty-nine, after drifting sideways at Bico de Pato as conditions worsened. However the drama did not there, with the Force India sliding into Hamilton at the Senna S battling back laps later – handing him a drive-through penalty for his part and eliminating the latter on the spot.
While it was a sad way for Hamilton to end his McLaren tenure, Hulkenberg would recover to fifth behind local hero Felipe Massa, shadowing his Ferrari team-mate until the end, and an error-strewn Mark Webber.
Michael Schumacher called time on his Formula One career with a fine seventh, surviving a late brush with Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi, which resulted in the Japanese driver handing eighth to Toro Rosso’s Jean-Eric Vergne.
Kimi Raikkonen was another to suffer a difficult afternoon, caught up in one incident after another, including taking a wrong turn down an access road after sliding off at Juncao. Nevertheless the Finn still managed to take the final point, ahead of Vitaly Petrov whose late pass on Charles Pic was enough to hand tenth in the Constructors’ back to Caterham.
Sadly the Frenchman would be unable to fight back, with a late accident for Paul di Resta neutralising the final laps and locking in the finishing order – the Scotsman thankfully emerging unscathed.
Thus, with no time to draw breath the Brazilian Grand Prix served up the perfect dose of unpredictability to end an unforgettable season, with chopping and changing throughout the order. Despite all the drama and his first lap scare Sebastian Vettel kept his head to seal another crown and become the youngest triple world champion in history. Fully deserving, the Red Bull star remained consistent when he was down, took advantage of any predicament and won dominantly when opportunity called. Just how many more titles will fall his way remains to be seen, but three on the bounce cannot be sniffed at nor can his talent.
Of course the German did not have it easy, with Fernando Alonso fighting tooth and nail and never surrendering the high ground until the end, but alas the Spaniard just fell short when it mattered. Nevertheless the Spaniard has more than underlined his illustrious talent this season and will come back fighting in 2013, should Ferrari raise its game.
Whilst it was a bitterly disappointing end for Lewis Hamilton and Nico Hulkenberg, Jenson Button drove cunningly and calmly to pick up the pieces and finally end his winning drought. Ultimately the result will come as a big boost for the Englishman who faces a telling season next year when he leads McLaren’s charge.
It’s been a rollercoaster season for Formula One; one which will be hard to equal and be remembered by fans for years to come. Even with everything thrown at them the Vettel/Red Bull alliance once again came out on top – can they stretch this dominance to a fourth-successive year?
With testing only weeks away, it won’t be long until these new questions begin to be answered.