Vet­tel takes triple crown

John Floyd re­ports on a thrilling end to the F1 sea­son and changes in WRC

Business Day - Motor News - - MOTOR NEWS -

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.

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