Vettel takes triple crown
John Floyd reports on a thrilling end to the F1 season and changes in WRC
ONE cannot complain about the Brazilian Grand Prix. It provided a fitting end to the 2012 season, which saw Sebastian Vettel collect his third title in a row. That means he becomes the youngest triple champion in history and joins the ranks of driving greats such as Michael Schumacher and Juan Manual Fangio.
The race was one of tactics when it came down to it, with the weather playing a sizeable role in the outcome. The start was good for both Ferraris with Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa making up places before the first corner. The Red Bull of Vettel was swallowed by the traffic and was then involved in a collision with Bruno Senna, which spun the car and left Vettel travelling backwards down the road. But the damage was limited and the German was able to make up places to get back into the points position he required.
Pole sitter Lewis Hamilton made sure that he kept his McLaren out front, but conditions and tyre changes affected his race when a pit stop went wrong once again and cost him a lot of time. He rejoined the track and was in a battle with the hard charging Nico Hulkenberg when the two touched and it was goodbye to the McLaren. His team-mate Jenson Button held the lead to take the chequered flag, followed by Alonso and Massa. This result ensured that Ferrari held onto the second spot in the constructor’s championship, while Vettel took fifth and the title.
In his final race, Schumacher brought the Mercedes home in seventh and at least finished the race unscathed. It was sad to see the former multiple world champion struggling with his comeback, but he will be long remembered as one of the legends of the sport. It was of course also the last time we would see Hamilton in a McLaren as he moves to fill Schumacher’s vacant seat next year.
It would also appear to be the end for a few others. Kamui Kobayashi is out of his Sauber seat as the young Mexican Esteban Gutierrez joins Hulkenberg in the new line up. Frenchman Charles Pic moves to Caterham from Marussia, which means that either Heikki Kovalainen or Vitaly Petrov are job hunting, or perhaps both will join the ranks of the unemployed as the future is not looking bright for either of them.
Neither Narain Karthikeyan or Pedro de la Rosa are secure with the Spanish-owned HRT team up for sale, so it may have been the last time we will see them in the championship.
Another interesting farewell goes to Dr Gary Hartstein, Formula 1’s medical delegate. Hartstein took over from the late Dr Sid Watkins on his retirement and is a veteran of 247 grands prix. For some reason, the FIA has decided not to renew his contract and this has caused consternation in various circles, not least the Grand Prix Drivers Association.
Chairman of the association, Pedro de la Rosa said: “We will speak with Charlie Whiting, (FIA race director) about it and see what his view is, what the plan is and who is going to be the substitute. We would like to have someone we know, someone who is experienced, someone who we trust. Unfortunately, there are not many people.”
The FIA has not given any reason for the non renewal.
On the WRC front, it was good to see that Dani Sordo has signed to join Citroen as team-mate to Mikko Hirvonen. After two years with Prodrive behind the wheel of a Mini, Sordo’s future looked uncertain when the plug was finally pulled on the factory involvement with the team. The Spaniard has shown his ability and has posted some good results in a car that could not match the might of Citroen and Ford.
When i was in Australia recently, Matthias Muller, CEO and president of Porsche, announced the company’s return to motor sport in 2014 when the team will challenge endurance racing and Le Mans specifically.
The retiring Michael Schumacher, right, congratulates three-time F1 champion Sebastian Vettel.