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GP Week : Issue 177a
With a 13-point advantage over title rival Alonso, Vettel insisted he would treat the Brazilian Grand Prix like any other race. Who would take pole was far from a foregone conclusion. Rain intervened before qualifying and Webber qualified third ahead of a disappointed Vettel. A tentative start put Vettel and a spin at Turn 4 put the German at the back of the field, but a dogged drive to sixth in treacherous conditions with a heavily damaged car was enough to make him the youngest ever triple champion. Webber finished fourth, despite a couple of spins The great Schumacher didn’t harbour much hope for a strong result in his final ever grand prix on Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit but scooped points for seventh, despite suffering an early puncture. Rosberg complained of a lack of grip during free practice but was content with his long-run pace and hoped to carry that over to the race itself. From ninth on the grid, a puncture caused considerable damage to his car’s floor and meant he languished down in 15th, well outside of the points. Hamilton hoped to end his relationship with McLaren on a high and began the weekend by going fastest in a dry FP1. He went even quicker midway through FP2 and had more than eight tenths over team-mate, although Button held the initiative in FP3. Unsurprisingly, qualifying ended with a McLaren one-two, Hamilton taking pole. The pole-man led away from the start but soon lost track position. He surged back into the lead after the safety car but was left feeling dejected after finally being taken out by a wayward Hulkenburg, which left Button to pick up the pieces and take the win. Raikkonen had to make up for lost time in free practice after suffering a misfire early in FP1, requiring a suspension change in FP2 and losing an engine in final practice. Both Lotus cars were relatively off the pace and the Finn could only qualify eighth. He fell to tenth in the race after a late spin but secured third in the drivers’ standings. A controversial collision with de la Rosa’s HRT in Q1 meant Grosjean required a new nosecone and subsequently qualified 18th. His race only lasted until lap six when he speared into the Turn 11 barriers at high speed. Alonso knew something spectacular would have to happen for him to deny Vettel of the title, especially as he was somewhat off the pace in free practice. This was confirmed in qualifying when both scarlet cars barely squeezed through to Q3, Alonso eventually qualifying seventh with Massa placing his car fifth before his home crowd. There were plenty of fireworks in the race but second place proved insufficient to deny Vettel of the championship title. Massa played a great supporting role throughout, rounding-out the podium places after allowing his team-mate through in the latter stages. Force India ended Friday practice at Interlagos with a “pretty sorted car” that excelled at both high and low-speeds, but only Hulkenburg reached Q3. The young German was eventually demoted to sixth as the pace ramped up. A ballsy decision to stay on slicks in deteriorating conditions saw Hulkenburg lead during the opening half of the race, but a hard-fought battle with Hamilton as the pair negotiated backmarkers ended in contact and denied him a podium. Di Resta, meanwhile, started tenth and got as high as eighth until he aquaplaned into the wall on the penultimate lap. Red Bull Mercedes McLaren Lotus Ferrari Force India TEAM-BY-TEAM: INTERLAGOS GRAND PRIX 41 GPWEEK.com // 41 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> BRAZIL