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GP Week : Issue 144
44 Team-By-Team: Brazilian Grand Prix, Interlagos An eighth podium finish for Jenson Button allowed him to put the rubber stamp on second place in the drivers’ championship after coming from fourth place to overtake Fernando Alonso during his final stint of the race. He completed two stints on his preferred medium compound tyre and easily passed Alonso with ten laps to go. Hamilton had a dismal end to his dismal season with a gearbox failure sending him into retirement after 47 laps. He had been battling with Massa for fifth at the time, having lost touch with Button and Alonso due to the gearbox issue. The perfect end to a near-perfect season for Red Bull with Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel notching up the team’s third 1-2 finish of the year and with the Australian getting a much-needed boost with his one and only win of the year. He was disappointed not to have earned it by beating Vettel on merit however, with the German having struggled with a gearbox leaking oil, meaning he lost laptime by having to short-shift. He still comfortably held on to second place though to record his 17th podium of the year, with Webber’s win elevating him to third place in the drivers’ championship. Renault picked up their first point in four races as Vitaly Petrov came home in a disappointing tenth place, but crucially they managed to fend off Force India in the fight for fifth in the championship. In the end the gap stood at just four points, underlining the importance of every finish. Petrov three-stopped and had a quick final stop to thank for jumping both Toro Rossos and finish tenth. Senna endured a character-building home race, despite qualifying an admirable ninth on Saturday. A drive-through penalty for contact with Schumacher had little bearing on his result as he finished almost two minutes behind Petrov in 17th place. Overheating tyres left Nico Rosberg struggling to keep the Force Indias behind in Sao Paulo, with high track temperatures causing problems for his Mercedes. He opted for a two- stop strategy by was overtaken by the three- stopping Sutil at the beginning of his final stint. He had the measure of di Resta behind to secure six points in seventh place. Team-mate Schumacher finished a lowly 15th after coming together with Senna early in the race. The contact punctured his left-rear tyre, requiring a slow lap to the pits. He dropped to last, from where balance issues meant was unable to recover to the points. 14th place and a DNF mean Williams end 2011 with seven consecutive non-scoring races and ninth place in the championship on a dismal five points total. Rubens Barrichello gave the team hope by qualifying 12th for what could yet be his final Grand Prix, but a catastrophic start immediately dropped him to 19th place and out of points contention. He stopped three times and was closing on Perez at the finish. Team-mate Maldonado had just overtaken Bruno Senna for 16th place when he spun and crashed at turn 7. He had been struggling with oversteer at the time. An 11th podium finish of the year was just out of reach for Alonso, with fourth place dropping him from third to fourth in the championship. He passed Hamilton at turn 2 on the first lap and then overtook Button in an audacious move around the outside of turn 6 ten laps later, but didn’t have the speed on the medium tyre to fend Jenson off when he came back on the attack in the closing laps of the race. Massa pitted just twice and was looking an easy target for Hamilton until the Briton’s gearbox expired, allowing Massa an easy drive to the finish in fifth.