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GP Week : Issue 196
sunday’s paddock was filled with journalists wearing tee-shirts bearing the logo #MADeMYMARK, and during the Brazilian Grand Prix F1 retiree Mark Webber did just that, finishing in second place at his last grand prix, his eighth podium finish of the season. It was Sebastian Vettel who claimed the win on Sunday afternoon, once again taking part in his own race as the other 21 competitors took part in a grand prix going on behind. But for the first time in recent memory Vettel stuffed his start, losing the lead to Nico Rosberg going into the first corner. It was not to last, however, as the Red Bull and Mercedes crossed the line side by side to begin the second lap of the race. Eighty seconds later, as lap 3 began, Vettel had his customary 1.4s lead and the normal order of things was restored. Behind the German was an action- packed grand prix made all the more tense by the constant threat of rain, although when drops started to fall in the closing stages of the race it was a light affair that did not affect the order of things. In the opening stages of Sunday’s race it was clear that the Mercedes were struggling. Not only did Rosberg lose the lead to Vettel, but Lewis Hamilton – who was running in third place on the first lap – lost position to a charging Fernando Alonso on lap 2. Two laps later, Webber – who had dropped to fifth off the start – was able to take the Briton for fourth place in a decisive manoeuvre that put the Australian in line for a podium finish. Despite their obvious struggles, both Hamilton and Rosberg put up a good fight, with both men running in the top five for much of Sunday afternoon. In the first phase of the Brazilian Grand Prix it was Rosberg who was in the greatest trouble, battling more with his tyres than he was with his rivals. When his teammate got close on lap 11, the pragmatic Rosberg allowed Hamilton to slip past for fourth, a position he would hold until making his first stop on lap 21. The Briton returned to the track behind the Ferrari of Felipe Massa, and the two men immediately engaged in a 13-lap battle that ended only when an irate Massa was called to ser ve a drive-through penalty when it emerged that he had crossed the white line at the pit entry. From then it was clean sailing in fourth for Hamilton until he was called to serve his own drive-through on lap 52 having caused a collision while trying to lap Valtteri Bottas that saw the Williams driver knocked out of the race. On the back foot with less than 20 laps remaining, it was all a floor- damaged Hamilton could do to salvage ninth place, finishing two spots behind Massa. Further up the pack it was a series of clean fights between Alonso and Webber that provided much of the interest on Sunday afternoon. Having recovered from yet another less than stellar start, Webber chased down first Hamilton and then Rosberg to run in third by lap 7. Four laps later, the Australian was giving chase to Alonso, the two men delighting spectators with a two-lap dice that ended when Webber slipped past the Ferrari at the beginning of lap 13, holding second until he pitted at the end of lap 23. Emerging from the pits behind Alonso, Webber again gave chase, eventually reclaiming second on lap 26. The Asturian fought back, but was no match for the Red Bull. Webber managed to hold on to P2 despite losing time in the pits during his second stop, as the unprepared team struggled to find Vettel’s fourth wheel, costing both their drivers time in the process. But such was their lead by that point in the race that Vettel and Webber left the pits in first and second, with Alonso behind in third. The top three would stay in that order until the end of the race, despite the best efforts of a charging Alonso. 25 GPWEEK.com // 25 GPWEEK.com // PARTNERS: F1 >>> BRAZIL