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GP Week : Issue 177a
It was that kind of day ... F1 >>> BRAZIL Three into two ... didn't go! 30 GPWEEK.com // 30 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: tyre barriers at Turn 11 (and out of the race as a consequence). One lap later and Mark Webber also ran wide, losing track position but staying in the fight. By the time Webber ran wide, Vettel had worked his way back into the points. It may have only been P10, but the Red Bull driver’s grit and determination caused a number of anxious faces on the Ferrari pit wall – the Scuderia had hoped that Vettel’s early problems would be the miracle they had been hoping for all weekend. But it was not to be – it took Vettel a single lap to work his way up from P10 to the title-threatening position of P7, at which point the German racer found himself frustratedly staring at the back end of Kamui Kobayashi’s Sauber before the Japanese driver pitted. It would not be the last the two saw of each other on track on Sunday afternoon. As the first round of pit stops began the track was clearly suited to intermediate tyres, not slicks, and the pitlane was heaving with drivers lining up to get reshod. But there were those out on track who appeared impervious to the rain whatever their rubber. One such man was Hulkenberg, who climbed his way up to P2 during the stops, and passed Jenson Button for the lead on lap 18. The Force India driver held onto the lead through his own pit stop on lap 23, and was tailed by both McLaren drivers even as the Woking pair switched places behind him. On lap 48, Hamilton finally made it past Hulkenberg when the German driver span, holding the door wide open and gifting the British driver with the race lead. Which isn’t to say that the thirty laps in which Hulkenberg led the race were bereft of action. The 2012 season finale was an absolute thriller of a race, 71 laps in which every position change necessitated frantic calculations to determine just who was in the lead of the drivers’ championship. One watershed moment took placed on lap 17, when Vettel passed Alonso. The Ferrari driver pitted on the next lap and Vettel one lap later, so in sporting terms the move was largely irrelevant, but psychologically? Alonso had been overtaken by his only championship rival, a man his team had informed him was spinning like a top at the back of the grid on the very first lap. With that one manoeuvre, Alonso was made aware that the fight for the drivers’ title would be even more challenging than he had anticipated. The next few laps were relatively peaceful, until the advent of a Safety Car on lap 23. Alonso had been complaining of debris on the track, the result of a seemingly endless stream of major and minor collisions, plus the detritus left over from the first lap collisions, and Race Control agreed. Bernd Maylander led the pack until the end of lap 29, when Hulkenberg held the lead at the restart and Webber ran off track at Turn 1. One lap later, Hamilton passed Button for P2 in Turn 4 while the charging Kobayashi passed Vettel before taking down Alonso on the next lap. Alonso returned the favour on the following lap, and Vettel was stuck staring at the rear end of Kobayashi’s Sauber for the second time. Don't forget The Flying Lap live every week on http://smibs.tv CLICK HERE