by clicking the arrows at the side of the page, or by using the toolbar.
by clicking anywhere on the page.
by dragging the page around when zoomed in.
by clicking anywhere on the page when zoomed in.
web sites or send emails by clicking on hyperlinks.
Email this page to a friend
Search this issue
Index - jump to page or section
Archive - view past issues
GP Week : Issue 144
40 later now into Senna, found the grip – and was away. He mirrored Seb on that lap. Behind, Jenson fell away, slower by nearly a second. Could Mark Webber have beaten Seb Vettel on equal terms? We’ll never know, for Seb began to develop second and third gear shift problems as the initial pit stops approached. Seb short-shifted (changed up early) to protect the ratios – and quickly adapted to the new regime (as other great drivers have in the past quickly adapted: back in the days of mechanical gearshifts and clutches, many were the wins scored despite clutch failures, or the loss of a second or a third gear. Jim Clark and Ayrton Senna, to name but two, became masters of clutchless gearchanges and laps without crucial gears). Mark wasn’t expecting any favours – he’s an Aussie who likes to earn his wins – so he drew ever-closer. And Seb wasn’t about to risk anything after a season like his: at the start of lap 30, just before half-distance, Seb pulled over to let Mark past. Aussie Grit could do nothing but accept the invitation. He won easily – if wins are ever easy. There was the usual traffic – exacerbated by the relatively short, Interlagos lap – and there was a late stop for Pirelli primes – always a worry because something like this is always there, in your mind, as a final obstacle. And there were the usual, millisecond thoughts: “What’s that vibration?”“What’s that noise?” He had cushion, though – cushion enough. Seb made a mistake and ran wide out of Lake Corner on his first flying lap on primes (10 laps from the end) so the ultimate question was: would Seb have made that same mistake if he hadn’t had a gearbox problem and had been under pressure from Mark? We’ll never know – just as we’ll never be able to dispute the emphasis of Webber’s win. He set fastest lap mid-race – and then completed his afternoon with three astonishing additional laps that led to the chequered flag: 1min 15.487sec, 1min 15.480sec, 1min 15.324sec. No doubt The Management were unimpressed – but it impressed me, I have to say. All three of those times were fastest laps. Mark needed something to take away from 2011 for the summer holidays (in Australia) – and he got it: memories on which to feed. Seb drove valiantly to finish second, even taking the time to say on the radio that he was reminding himself of Ayrton’s Brazilian win in 1991, when he finished the race in sixth gear only. The impressive, thing, I think, is that Seb knows about such things... Jenson again drove well to finish third – particularly as McLaren’s mediocre pace on the options obliged him to run two sets of primes in the second half of the race – and Fernando was an excellent fourth for Ferrari. Fernando passed both McLaren drivers (Lewis on the outside at Turn 1– a la Mark Webber in Abu Dhabi) and Jenson a little later, when some debris appeared at Lake Corner, but it was all for nothing: Jenson later re-zapped Fernando with the help of DRS – which was a shame, I think, because the artificial aid robbed us of what I’m sure would have been four or five excellent laps of Alonso defence. As if to emphasise the point, Fernando’s DRS wasn’t working anyway.... Lewis, who was out- qualified for the sixth time this year by Jenson, also ran into gearbox problems and retired for good on lap 36: the 2011 gearbox rules (each must be used for five races) are obviously well- cast and right on the limit. Felipe Massa finished fifth in front of his home crowd after a long, slow stint on the Pirelli primes (a puncture robbed him of a set of options) but celebrated his end of term with a donut or two – of the burning rubber variety – in front of the grandstands; and Adrian Sutil finished an outstanding sixth for Force India, ahead of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes. With his future uncertain as of this writing, Sutil on Sunday (and Saturday, for that matter, when he qualified eighth) said “I’m here!” in the most emphatic of ways. Bruno Senna, another who deserves a solid ride in 2012, out-qualified Vitaly Petrov and didn’t yield when Michael Schumacher attacked him in the early phases of the race. They clashed, Bruno was penalised – but you can imagine nonetheless that Ayrton would have been smiling as Michael limped pitwards with a punctured tyre. Brazil’s other favourite, Rubens Barrichello, made Q2 in what may be his last appearance in F1 (his 322nd), set sixth-fastest race lap (one virtually identical to Michael’s) but finished only 14th in the uncompetitive Williams-Cosworth. And so, finally, the year is over. Seb Vettel’s year – and Adrian Newey’s year. The year of Red Bull Racing and Renault. Pirelli can be happy with their first season in monopoly; KERS made a successful re-entry; but DRS, to my mind, is fatuous. We have gained nothing and we’ve lost the art of defence. And Mark Webber finally won a race. 2012 anyone?