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GP Week : Issue 177a
It would be short-lived, however, as Massa deftly nipped past Vettel on lap 34, using his DRS to overtake the helpless Red Bull. The drama then calmed down for a few laps, in a relative sense. The action-packed race saw noteworthy moments on every turn of the circuit, but the next potentially race-defining – championship-defining – incident took place on lap 36, when Massa made it past Kobayashi, leaving Vettel in the Japanese racer’s wake for the third time in the race. The next fifteen laps saw an increasingly frustrated Vettel attempt to make it past Kobayashi, but to no avail. The Sauber driver made his car as wide as possible within the legal limits, and as a man fighting for his F1 future Kobayashi was in no mood to make it easy for the defending world champion to claim his third successive title. In the end, Vettel didn’t make it past Kobayashi. The Red Bull driver pitted for fresh rubber on lap 52, and on lap 54 he was forced to pit again when conditions changed and the track as suitable only for inters. It was a slow stop that complicated Vettel’s championship challenge, but the boy wonder kept on fighting until the end, eventually crossing the finish line in P6. Between Vettel’s two stops came one of the major incidents of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Hamilton and Hulkenberg were still fighting for the lead and lapping backmarkers when a bodged overtaking attempt saw the Force India driver lose control of his car, sliding into Hamilton and breaking the McLaren driver’s suspension. From what could have been a race win Hamilton was forced into the indignity of retiring from his final race for the team that had nurtured his career since boyhood. Team-mate Button was the man to benefit from Hamilton’s retirement; he inherited the lead as Hulkenberg struggled to recover from his foray into the other MP4-27 and held onto the advantage till the end of the race, crossing the finish line in first place and bookending his 2012 season with wins. But for the two men fighting for the drivers’ title, the race was far from over. Alonso came out of the tyre panic pit stops in P3, behind team-mate Massa, and it was little surprise when the Paulista waved the Spanish driver past, giving him every chance to take the title. Lower down the pack, Vettel was given a helping hand of his own by countryman Michael Schumacher, who ceded P6 with little in the way of defensive driving. And just when we thought it was all over bar the shouting, Paul di Resta nominated himself for the ‘Idiot of the Season Award’, driving into the wall at the final corner and bringing out the Safety Car on the penultimate lap of the race. While the Safety Car was recalled at the end of lap 71 so that drivers could cross the finish line in race mode, it was the only sour note in one of the most thrilling races in one of Formula One’s most exciting seasons. With only one corner in race conditions and no chance of any overtaking, the action-packed wet and dry race sputtered out like a damp squib. F1 >>> BRAZIL Vettel chases down Massa only to get stuck behind Kobayashi Let's not forget race winner Jenson Button ... Hamilton exits the race courtesy of Nico Hulkenberg 31 GPWEEK.com // 31 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: