Sebastian Vettel crossed the finish line as the winner of the Formula One Brazilian Grand Prix today. The Red Bull driver's victory now means that the Drivers' Championship will go down to the wire, and be confirmed at the last race of the season in Abu Dhabi. The German and the rest of the field experienced an action packed race, and the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace never fails to disappoint with the events that unfold there.
Vettel's pace that allowed him to reach the chequered flag first was completed in 1:33:11.803s.
"It's an incredible effort from the team. It has not been an easy season, but this was the perfect answer after what happened in Korea." commented Vettel. He is very much thinking about the next race and last of the season now: "I don't wish anything bad to happen to (Alonso), but it would be nice if we see some nice Ferrari smoke. No, joking apart, we try to win the race and we see where he is"
His Australian team mate, Mark Webber following closely behind to take second position, "Looking to the Drivers' Championship I took a few points off Fernando today, so it's still all to play for in Abu Dhabi. The team's philosophy is that we race and we will work to that. Seb deserved the win today -- it was a close fight. Both of us need to finish ahead of Fernando in Abu Dhabi, so let's see what happens there."
Ferrari's Fernando Alonso could have been crowned as the 2010 Formula One World Champion, but it was not meant to be his day, and the Spaniard grabbed the last step on the podium to take third place. However, he still leads in the battle for the title, over Webber, Vettel and Lewis Hamilton.
"All things considered, I am pleased with this result. We have only lost three points to our closest rival and, given how things turned out yesterday in qualifying, it went well: if this morning, I had been told it would finish like this, I would have happily signed for it!" said Alonso. "Now, we go to Abu Dhabi: we know what we have to do and taking the title depends on us."
The race got off to a fairly accident free start as the lights went out. First time polesitter Nico Hulkenberg did not last too long, leading the rest of the field in the early stages. To begin with the Williams driver had to defend his position from Vettel, who was hunting him down in second place. The 23 year old rookie could not hold off the challenge from behind any longer, and after running wide slightly on lap one, Vettel made the most of the opportunity to take the lead. The team colours barely changed during the race in its entirety, and the two top positions were only swapped over, when Vettel had to pit and the same situation occurred, when Webber visited the pit lane for a tyre change. Hulkenberg did still end up with a reasonable result, by finishing the race in eighth place for his team.
"I am happy with that result because I gave it everything today; there wasn't anything left in me to give!" explained Hulkenberg. "The team did a great pitstop and chose the right strategy; we just needed some more car pace. Even though we started on pole, my expectations for the race were to finish between fifth and tenth, so P8 is fine and it means we are now sixth in the constructors' championship."
Even in the leading positions, both Vettel and Webber did come up against a delay on lap 41, with the traffic building from the back of the pack. The gap between the team mates reduced to 2.6s, with Webber finding good pace. Meanwhile, Vettel was the first to suffer as he tackled the back markers, then the pair looked to be quite a short distance apart. Unfortunately for Webber though, he could not get passed his younger team mate. At that point the drivers causing the obstruction, were Heikki Kovalainen in his Lotus in 19th position, his team mate, Jarno Trulli was in 20th place and one of their rivals, Timo Glock was 21st in his Virgin car. The blue flag was waived to instruct the slower ones, to allow the front-runners to pass. On lap 64 though, Nick Heidfeld failed to acknowledge the flag. As a result of the German ignoring the sign, the Sauber driver was issued with a drive through penalty by the race stewards. His race was ruined as a result of this, and he failed to improve his track position. Heidfeld got to the end of the race with a 17th place finish.
Hamilton is still in with a chance to take the title, but had a mixed race on his way to finishing in fourth position. The McLaren driver had battles for position with Alonso early on. Hamilton ran wide at Turn four on lap two, which meant Alonso could easily take fourth place from him at that point. Other scraps for position, which Hamilton was at the forefront of, included Hulkenberg who slipped slightly down the grid as the race was progressing. Hamilton continued to make steady progress, but did battle with another driver, Kamui Kobayashi in the other Sauber. The Japanese driver is famous for taking risks and does not give away a position without a fight. On lap 26 Hamilton fought with Kobayashi for position and of the two the Englishman had the upper hand, taking fifth place at the time. The race did not run as smoothly as Hamilton may have liked. He did not seem to be 100 percent happy with the way his car was performing. On a couple of occasions he reported to the team that he was struggling for grip with his tyres. Another problem he thought was affecting his lap times was the F-duct. However, the team could find no fault, and Hamilton continued to race on.
"I'm still in the hunt for the drivers' championship, but I'm 24 points down, so I have nothing to lose now, said Hamilton. "In Abu Dhabi I'll be doing everything I can to pull off the win I need, and hoping the other guys hit problems.
"As always, we won't give up and we'll keep on pushing. We've seen many times before that almost anything can happen in the last race of the season. It'll take a miracle -- but miracles can happen!" added the 2008 champions.
Jenson Button in the sister McLaren has had ups and downs during his weekend. Leading up to race day on track, he only managed 11th position on the grid. The defending World Champion also came under threat, when he was en route back to his hotel after the day was over. He was stuck in traffic in Sao Paulo when his car was approached by an armed gang. The vehicle was armour plated and the policeman in the driving seat created a diversion through the other cars to lead Button to safety. The Briton and the other passengers with him fortunately escaped unhurt.
Throughout the early and middle stages of the race Button changed grid positions numerous times. On lap 12 he was the first of the top title contenders to pit and decided to use the medium compound of hard tyres. Like his team mate, Button also overtook a few other drivers in the field. He too raced for position with Kobayashi, as he made his way nearer to the front of the pack. Despite his little scraps with various drivers in the race, Kobayashi did pick up the last point scoring position to grab tenth place.
Felipe Massa in the other Ferrari was among those that Button came across. As the race came to an end after 71 laps, Button picked up some valuable points in fifth position. It is strange with the turn of events in a year. The end result for Button in Brazil 12 months ago, was also a fifth place finish, but at the same time he was crowned World Champion as well.
Massa did not have the best home race round the Interlagos circuit. The Brazilian driver encountered a problem during a pit stop on lap 14. It was thought that the right rear tyre was not fitted onto the car properly. The delay in the pits did not do him any favours at all, and his track position did not improve as the race progressed. On lap 33 Massa was in 16th place, fighting for position with the Force India of Vitantonio Liuzzi. The Italian driver did not manage to make a pass to take the position, which was a bit of a result for Massa. In the end though, his race on home soil will not stay in his mind as the best. He could only bring his car back to a 15th place finish.
The Mercedes team brought their cars into the top ten, and collected some more points for their current hold on fourth place for the Constructors' Championship. With the solid finish today, both drivers have helped the team to widen the gap between themselves and Renault who are currently in fifth position. Of the two drivers though, Nico Rosberg got the one up on his older team mate, as he landed sixth position. On the other hand, Michael Schumacher was lagging behind him and took seventh place.
Robert Kubica appeared to keep himself out of the way, of all the action going on elsewhere in the field. The Renault driver mainly kept quiet on his own and raced to a ninth place finish. His Russian team mate, Vitaly Petrov managed to complete the race, but ended up quite far down in 16th position.
Elsewhere in the field, Toro Rosso driver, Jaime Alguersuari got himself into a bit of tangle with the Williams driver Rubens Barrichello. Nevertheless, the Spaniard finished the race in 11th place. His Swiss team mate was not too far behind, and ended the race in 13th position. Although Barrichello was like the other Brazilian drivers in the field and took to the track for his home race, luck did not seem to be on his side today. On lap 14 his right rear tyre caused a problem in the pits, and there was a bit of a delay in him getting back out on track. Later on in the race Barrichello then experienced more misery, when his situation went from bad to worse. He was fighting for position with Alguersuari on lap 35, and had to make a swift pit stop after they came together. Sadly he finished the race and secured 14th position.
Adrian Sutil in the other Force India was in a Toro Rosso sandwich, as he finished the race in 12th place. The German had a bad start to the weekend, as he already faced the five-place grid penalty, for his actions during the last race in Korea. Nevertheless, he seemed to have a more positive outcome than his team mate, Liuzzi, who caused the safety car to be deployed on lap 50, when he crashed out of the race and went off the track. The safety car remained out on track until lap 55, once his car was cleared out of the way.
At the very back of the field where the new teams are concerned, the Lotus team got back to their true form, as in previous races this season. Yesterday in qualifying, the Virgin Racing driver, Glock, beat them to a higher grid slot. However, Kovalainen was the one ahead today, when it really mattered for the race. The Finnish driver was able to get ahead of his rivals, and own team mate to end up in 18th position.
Meanwhile, Trulli was not far behind in the sister car to take 19th place. Glock came next and got in front of Hispania Racing's Bruno Senna. The German driver was one place better off than the Brazilian on his home turf and finished in 20th position, leaving Senna trailing in 21st place. Senna's Austrian team mate, Christian Klien had an even more disastrous time though, as he only got to complete four laps of the race. Before the action got underway, he already had an electronic problem related to the engine in his car. He was classified under the final race times in 22nd place.
Other retirees, who did not make the grade in the race, were Lucas Di Grassi in the second Virgin car, who came 23rd in the final list of results. Like the other Brazilian drivers in Formula One, he too suffered the same run of bad luck in the race. On lap 44 he made a visit to the pits, and the car went into the garage. Di Grassi did get out of the car and back into it, but was not able to compete further on after that, with his car not working efficiently. This meant that he joined those who were also unable to reach the finish line. He was in 24th place in the final list of race classification.
With a lot of action occurring on and off the track during the race, the overall outcome now means that the front-runners in contention for the title are still battling it out. In one week the 2010 World Champion will be decided, when Formula One heads to Abu Dhabi. After Red Bull took the one-two finish today in Brazil, they have now secured the Constructors' Championship by 41 points. Ferrari currently line up in third position and are 32 points away from McLaren in second place.
"This is an unbelievable result," said Red Bull Team Principal, Christian Horner. "In six years this team has come from a team that no-one took seriously -- that everyone thought was a party team -- to the 2010 Formula One Constructors' Champions. We have finished ahead of teams with far more experience and heritage than ourselves -- we took them on and we won."
A lot of attention is particularly going to be on the front-runners, with Alonso still at the top and leading Webber by a tiny margin of eight points. There are only seven points between Webber, and his team mate, Vettel, who sits in third position. Hamilton, is a further nine points behind Vettel, in fourth place. Button's hopes of defending his Championship are over, as there is a difference of 23 points between himself, and his team mate, Hamilton.