2012 Brazilian Grand Prix Race Weekend Review
Here it is; the last race of the 2012 FIA Formula One World Championship at the Interlagos Circuit in Brazil. This is the place where all the teams can test Pirelli’s 2013 development tyre for the first time in order to gain crucial and important data that will shape their development for the new season ahead. Also, this weekend saw a few of the teams announce some of their drivers for the 2013 Formula One season.
Williams have announced that Pastor Maldonado is to stay with the team, but they do have one seat available for next year. At this stage of the season, we do not know who will be Maldonado’s teammate. But it seems that the two likely contenders for this seat will be Maldonado’s current teammate Bruno Senna and William’s current Test Driver Bottas (who will have taken Senna’s drive in Friday Practice 1 for the fifteenth time this year).
Sauber have announced that their Test and Reserve driver Estuban Guiterez will be replacing Kamui Kobayashi to partner Nico Hulkenberg for next year. This was to be expected by the F1 world as Kamui has struggled to keep up with the pace of Perez this year, but this leaves him without a drive for next season. Robert Frinz has also been announced by the team as the Test and Reserve driver for Sauber in 2013.
Caterham have announced that Charles Pic is moving to the team from Marussia for 2013 after a few decent performances throughout the year. Sadly, Vitaly Petrov is out of the team for next year, but will be a test driver for Pirelli in 2013. The second seat within the team has not yet been confirmed by the team and Kovalainen is trying his best to convince the team to stay on for another season.
Also, Michael Schumacher after this race will be retiring for the second time from the sport from the AMG-Mercedes Petronas team to make way for Lewis Hamilton moving from McLaren to partner Nico Rosberg for next year. I’m not the biggest Schumacher fan but I’m sure for most people who follow the sport as closely as I do will know the significance of one of the greatest drivers the sport has ever had retiring and effectively handing over the ‘baton’ to a new succession of drivers within the sport.
After an amazing debut Grand Prix for the Circuit of the Americas, the Driver’s World Championship fight is going to be decided in Sao Paulo. Sebastian Vettel still leads the championship fight with thirteen points over his rival Fernando Alonso. The race could make Vettel the youngest ever triple world champion or Alonso a triple world champions, joining an exclusive club of drivers such as Fangio, Schumacher and Prost.
Alonso if he wants to be a triple world champion and the champion of 2012 needs to take every available opportunity that is given towards him this weekend to win the title from Vettel. The statistics show that Vettel will become this year’s champion if he finishes within the top four positions in the Grand Prix, no matter where Alonso finishes. For Alonso to become this year’s champion, he needs to:-
- Win the Grand Prix and Vettel needs to be outside the top 4
- Alonso finishes second and Vettel needs to be outside the top 7
- Alonso finishes third and Vettel needs to be outside the top 9
As we know in recent years, anything can happen in Brazil. And you can bet that Alonso is hoping the weather can come into play and give him a helping hand to secure the title for himself. There is no denying that Vettel is the strongest position possible to achieve his third world title, but will luck be on his side? We shall see.
Alongside the championship battle, there is a battle for second place and tenth place in the Constructor’s championship that could be decided this weekend. McLaren-Mercedes and Ferrari are battling with each other for second place; meanwhile Marussia is struggling to keep the Caterham team at bay to keep a much needed tenth place- who will succeed?
This Grand Prix looks set to be a race that everything will be decided and finalised in one of the best, exciting and unpredictable seasons we’ve encountered. Strap yourselves in…
Practices 1, 2 and 3
The main headline from all the practice sessions is that McLaren are looking like the team to beat this weekend.
Practice 1 saw Hamilton top the timesheets with a time of 1.14.131 followed closely by Vettel with a gap of 0.009 seconds, Webber in third with a gap of 0.067 seconds, Button in fourth 0.086 seconds behind and Alonso in fifth 0.261 seconds behind. Paul Di Resta and Nico Hulkenberg impressed the paddock by topping the timesheets in 8th place (Di Resta) and 10th place (Hulkenberg) showing that Force India may have the pace to score some good points this weekend.
Practice 2 saw Hamilton top the timesheets again with a time of 1.14.026 followed by Vettel with a gap of 0.274 seconds, Webber in third with a gap of 0.497 seconds, Massa in fourth 0.527 seconds behind and Alonso in fifth 0.566 seconds behind. Button could only manage 8th place but Di Resta managed to keep the Force India within the top 10 in this season.
Within Practice 2, Charles Pic in his Marussia had to pull out of the session having lost power and drive while in 5th gear. This will leave Marussia with a lot of work to do overnight in order to fix the problem within the car and make sure Pic can get more of his programme done in Practice 3 and also qualifying on Saturday.
Practice 3 saw Button top the timesheet with a blisteringly quick time of 1.13.188 followed by Vettel with a time of 1.13.245, Webber in third with a time of 1.13.385, Hamilton in fourth with a time of 1.13.389 and Grosjean in fifth with a team of 1.13.420. Alonso could only manage to secure 8th place with a time of 1.13.691. However, Di Resta is the surprise of the session securing 6th place with an impressive time of 1.13.486.
I am as a McLaren fan pleased that both of the guys are up there and showing that they are stronger as they have been throughout the year , wanting to end the year on a high, to achieve pole position and then the race win. They seem to be in a strong position. But we have seen many times that McLaren’s form in Practice has not transformed into qualifying, but I am hoping that it does.
You would be stupid not to bet against Vettel to gain pole position. As he is the master of qualifying at the moment and the momentum is with him. Webber cannot also be discounted for the pole also as he is consistently within the top three at the moment. Alonso at the moment seems to be struggling. Alonso throughout the year has had to pull performances out of the bag in order to keep himself in the championship fight (especially in the races) and I admit it takes a lot of skill and talent to do that in a car that is not capable. However, I think that Force India have shown that they could throw themselves into the mix and could qualify well here. We all look forward to qualifying with excitement…
The last qualifying session of the season. It looks set to be a cracker. McLaren look to have the speed, with Red Bull racing them closely behind. Ferrari will have to hope for a miracle in order to keep Alonso fighting for the championship with a good qualifying spot and Force India look like they could qualify really well here in Brazil after their performances in all three Practices. Let the battle for Pole Position begin…
The main talking points within Q1 were two incidents that took place on the track. The first incident was between Glock and Kovalainen (who are trying for both of their teams to secure 10th place in the Constructor’s championship for Marussia or Caterham) trying to overtake each other on a slightly damp track. The second incident of the session was between Romain Grosjean and Pedro De La Rosa. Grosjean in his Lotus Renault while trying to overtake De La Rosa’s HRT ran into the back of him. Grosjean seems to have right front suspension damage, this ends Grosjean’s and De La Rosa’s qualifying session and the incident will be looked at after the session by the stewards.
In Q1, Hamilton tops the timesheet with a time of 1.15.075, Bruno Senna is second with a time of 1.15.333, Button is third with a time of 1.15.456, Hulkenberg is fourth with a time of 1.15.536 and Vettel is fifth with a time of 1.15.644. Alonso was tenth fastest with a time of 1.16.097. Di Resta set a blistering time in sixth with a time of 1.15.901. At the end of Q1, we lose Grosjean, Petrov, Kovalainen, Glock, Pic, Kartikeynan and De La Rosa.
Within Q2, Maldonado was asked by the stewards to come to the weighbridge during this session which is very unusual. However, Maldonado missed the FIA official in the pitlane pointing to Maldonado to come to the weighbridge. Maldonado has had 2 reprimands within the season from the FIA and this could lead to Maldonado receiving a very harsh penalty and is going to be looked at after this session by the FIA.
In Q2, Vettel tops the timesheet with a time of 1.13.209, Hamilton was second with a time of 1.13.398, Button was third fastest with a time of 1.13.515, Webber was fourth with a time of 1.13.667 and Raikkonen was fifth fastest with a time of 1.13.698. Alonso could only manage 9th with a time of 1.13.856. Hulkenberg also set a brilliant time of 1.13.704 to get 7th fastest. At the end of Q2, we lose Di Resta, Senna, Perez, Schumacher, Kobayashi, Riccardo and Vergne. The battle for pole position is on…
In Q3, Hamilton again tops the timesheet and claims pole position with a fantastic time of 1.12.458, Button was second fastest with a time of 1.12.513, Webber was third with a time of 1.12.581, Vettel was fourth fastest with a time of 1.12.760, Massa was fifth fastest with a time of 1.12.987, Maldonado was sixth fastest with a time of 1.13.174, Hulkenberg was seventh fastest with a time of 1.13.206, Alonso was eighth fastest with a time of 1.13.253, Raikkonen was ninth fastest with a time of 1.13.298 and Rosberg is tenth with a 1.13.489.
It would seem that McLaren genuinely has the pace to challenge for the race win this weekend which I am absolutely thrilled about. Both drivers seem to have the cars underneath them to do this. You cannot discount Vettel or Webber to be challenging also for the race win in order for Vettel to become the youngest triple world champion. Alonso needs to have a strong race in his Ferrari in order to keep fighting for the championship and take the title away from Vettel (with help from his team mate Massa). Hulkenberg could also have a decent race tomorrow and pick up some much needed points for Force India before heading to Sauber for next season. Maldonado’s time may or may not stand depending on how the stewards look at the incident that happened in Q2.
Will it rain tomorrow? Probably. Who will win the Grand Prix tomorrow? I really don’t know (hoping it’s either Jenson or Lewis). Who will become world champion tomorrow? Will it be Vettel or Alonso? I don’t know. I simply cannot wait for this Grand Prix. This Grand Prix has all the makings for an epic show down that will would be the perfect end to an exciting season for Formula One fans. Bring it on!
Prior to the race, Maldonado gets his third reprimand of the season for missing the weighbridge within Q2 and takes a ten place grid penalty. McLaren start the race with their 67th lockout of the grid (which is a new record in Formula One). The F1 world is watching and waiting to see if the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix will live up to expectations and will crown the youngest triple world champion; will be it be Vettel or will it be Alonso? Here we go…
It is starting to rain while the drivers take to their grid positions. Five red lights and its GO!!!! Hamilton defends his lead from his team mate Jenson Button into the first corner. Alonso seems to have had a decent start off the line. Webber seems to be challenging both Alonso and Massa (Massa had a great start) and all drivers are battling each other towards Turn 1. Alonso takes 3rd place and Massa takes 2nd place away from Jenson. Vettel doesn’t seem to have had a good start and has Di Resta battling him for position. Then Vettel while trying to defend his position crashes due to Senna going into the side of him and damages the left side pod of his Red Bull. Vettel is really not to blame for his incident, leaves him in 20th place (by lap 2 Vettel is now in 5th place) and leaves Senna having to retire his Williams-Renault. Also Perez has to retire his Sauber.
Lap 5, the rain is getting heavier and wet tyres are now going to be needed by all the drivers. Also, Lewis leads by 1.093 seconds to Button. There is a battle for 4th place going on between Alonso, Webber, Massa and Di Resta. While this is going on Nico Hulkenberg passes the four drivers to take third place from Alonso. While Hulkenberg goes through, Webber, Alonso and Massa are challenging each other but Alonso manages to hold onto fourth position for now. The next lap sees Webber trying to pass Alonso for position but it doesn’t work out. Also Kobayashi is also trying to get past Di Resta. Grosjean in his Lotus Renault crashes from the race and is forced to retire his car. While Raikkonen and Schumacher pit for wet tyres.
Lap 8 sees a 0.659 gap to Button. Vettel at this stage of the race is up to 8th place after his spin into the first corner in the first lap. Vettel tries to pass Kobayashi for position but it doesn’t work. Meanwhile, after many laps of trying, Button passes Lewis for the lead of the race, but Lewis seems to have no grip what so ever. The next lap sees Kobayashi pit to change his front wing and tyres. Kovalainen is in 11th place which maybe enough for Caterham to claim 10th position in the Constructor’s championship at this stage in the race. On the track, Rosberg tries to overtake Vergne for position and there is a clash between the Toro Rosso drivers for position.
Lap 10, Button has a three second lead on his team mate. Webber pits for intermediate tyres with a pit stop of 5.3 seconds and comes out in 10th place. The next lap sees a range of drivers pit to change their tyres to intermediates. Hamilton and Di Resta pits for tyres. Ferrari pits Alonso for tyres with a pit stop of 3.6 seconds and comes out in 12th place. Vettel pits for tyres with a pit stop of 3.0 seconds and comes out in 16th place and having to fight his way through the field again with some considerable damage to this car.
Lap 12 sees Button have a 2.721 gap to Hulkenberg who hasn’t stopped for tyres yet. Kovalainen at this point is in 6th place but needs to pit for tyres. Kobayashi passes Glock for position, Vettel passes Raikkonen for position and Alonso is currently in 12th position. By the next lap, Vettel passes his team mate Webber for position and pressuring Rosberg for 11th place on the track. Alonso is currently in 9th position. Hamilton is currently in 3rd position and is having a strong race. Meanwhile, Pic goes off and has to retire his Marussia out of the race.
Lap 15, Button has a 1.120 second gap to Hulkenberg. Vettel is now is 8th place. Webber passes Rosberg for 9th place. Alonso now passes Vergne for position. The next lap sees Vettel taking 5th place away from Kobayashi, but did he pass him under yellows? Also, Hulkenberg is challenging Button for the lead of the Grand Prix and by lap 17; Hulkenberg has reduced the gap to 0.2 seconds.
Lap 19 sees Hulkenberg take the lead of the Grand Prix away from Button and builds up a 0.718 gap. Hamilton pits for fresh tyres. Alonso in the Ferrari now pits for dry tyres with a pit stop of 4.3 seconds. The next lap sees Vettel and Webber pit for dry tyres.
Lap 21 sees Hulkenberg have a 0.803 second gap to Button in second place with Button pushing Hulkenberg at every available chance he has around the circuit. Rosberg meanwhile suffers a right rear puncture on his Mercedes due to the debris that is over the track from incidents seen throughout the Grand Prix.
Lap 23 sees the Safety Car being deployed due to the amount of debris that is currently on the track. Jenson and Nico decide to pit for tyres under the Safety Car and Hulkenberg maintains his lead in the Grand Prix.
Lap 30 and we are back RACING!! Hulkenberg has a 0.843 gap to Button. There is a battle of Kobayashi, Webber and Vettel. Kobayashi maintains his position, Webber is really unlucky, goes off the track and ends up in 14th place. Di Resta also tries to have a go at Vettel for position. The next lap sees Hulkenberg lock up, Hamilton passing Button for 2nd place and Riccardo struggling to get past Massa.
Lap 32, Hulkenberg has a 2.992 gap to Hamilton. Alonso is under increasing pressure by Kobayashi and Kobayashi manages to pass Alonso with a good move. Massa is currently in 7th place. Lap 33 sees Raikkonen go off the race track. The battle for 4th is hotting up between Alonso, Kobayashi, Vettel and Massa.
Lap 36, the track seems to be drying out. Button is 1.6 behind Hulkenberg. The battle for 5th place between Kobayashi, Massa and Vettel is still ongoing. Further down the field, Raikkonen and Schumacher are into a thrilling battle for position. Felipe Massa has managed to get up to 5th place.
Lap 40, there is a two second gap between Hulkenberg and Button. The battle for 5th place is still continuing. Di Resta passes Michael Schumacher for 11th place. Lap 42 sees the gap to Button decrease to 1.9 seconds. At this stage of the Grand Prix, the position Alonso is in will not be enough for him to secure the championship.
Lap 45 the gap to Hamilton is down to 1.4 seconds. A second down the road is Button who is gaining very quickly. The battle between Kobayashi and Vettel is still ongoing, but Kobayashi is struggling. Three laps later, Hulkenberg spins onto the track and Lewis manages to take the lead of the Grand Prix.
Lap 49, Lewis leads Nico by 1.875 seconds. The rain is now again pouring onto the track. Jenson is still gaining on Hulkenberg quickly. Lewis by the next lap is pulling away from Hulkenberg quickly. Lap 52, there is a 1.6 gap to Hulkenberg. Rosberg pits for a set of intermediates tyres while Riccardo pits for dry tyres. The next lap sees Vettel pitting for medium tyres with a pitstop of 3.5 seconds and comes out in 10th place.
Lap 54, the gap has decreased to 1.1 seconds between Lewis and Hulkenberg. This is due to the amount of backmarkers that Lewis is having to pass. The next lap sees Hulkenberg trying to pass Lewis for the lead. Both drivers clash. The left front tyre is damaged on Lewis’s car. This then promotes Alonso onto the podium. Vettel then pits again for intermediates tyres.
Lap 57 sees Jenson Button leading the Grand Prix from Hulkenberg by 10.5 seconds. Vettel is up to 9th position. Hulkenberg receives a drive through penalty through the pit lane for the collusion with Lewis Hamilton a few laps previously. He comes back out into 5th place. The next lap sees Button pit for intermediate tyres.
Lap 61 sees Button leading the race by 16 seconds from Massa. Vettel is catching Michael Schumacher and his Mercedes for 6th position in the race. Lap 65 sees Button increasing the gap to Massa to 21.245 seconds. The next lap sees Marussia in 12th place and has 8 tenths of a second gap ahead of Petrov who is battling for this position for the Caterham team. Within the lap, Petrov passes Pic successfully. Two laps later Di Resta passes Vergne successfully for 9th place.
Lap 69 sees Button leading the Grand Prix by 20.3 seconds to Massa. Kobayashi spins on the track after touching Schumacher while battling for position. However, he does nearly collide with Vergne. Lap 70 sees the safety car deployed after Di Resta spins.
The final lap of the Grand Prix under the safety car. And under the safety car, Jenson Button wins the Brazilian Grand Prix with a brilliant drive, his third win of the season. Alonso finishes 2nd 2.754 seconds behind, Massa gets the final podium spot 3.615 seconds behind Button, Webber finishes fourth 4.936 seconds behind, Hulkenberg gets fifth 5.708 seconds behind, Vettel gets sixth place and secures his third world title and becomes the youngest ever triple world champion of the sport, Schumacher finishes in 7th place, Vergne in 8th place, Kobayashi in 9th place and Raikkonen manages to secure the final point in 10th place for Lotus. Petrov also beats Pic for 11th place and thereby promotes Caterham to 10th in the Constructor’s Championship which is a blow to the Marussia team who held onto the position for a while.
The Driver’s championship ended with Vettel taking his third world title with 281 points, Alonso an credible second place with 278 points, Raikkonen finished third with 207 points, Lewis finishes ahead of Button with 190, Button gets fifth place with 188 points, Webber is sixth with 179 points, Massa in seventh with 122 points and Grosjean with 96 points in 8th place.
The Constructor’s championship ended with Red Bull Racing taking the title in Austin but managed to increase their points tally with 460 points, Ferrari pimped McLaren to second place with 400 points, McLaren are third with 378 points, Lotus are fourth with 303 points, Mercedes are fifth with 142 points, Sauber are sixth with 126 points, Force India are seventh with 109 points and Williams are eighth with 76 points.
What a race! It didn’t disappoint. The Grand Prix tested the drivers throughout the race. I am absolutely thrilled that Jenson won the race. It was a brilliant drive and I think it is fitting that he finished the season on a high with a win and also starting the season with a win in Australia in March. This will drive Button into the winter wanting more of the same when the new season arrives next year.
I was also disappointed that Lewis had to retire from his last race as a McLaren driver. But he showed throughout this weekend that when the car is there, he is one of the fastest drivers out there. I am really sad to see Lewis leave the team that has helped him win his world title and gave them 6 years of loyal service. But I wish Lewis all the best for the very future with Mercedes.
Despite the many dramas that Hulkenberg endured in the race, his driving today was superb. Under great pressure from Hamilton and Button, Hulkenberg lead the Grand Prix in a race that many people thought wouldn’t even be in this position this year. That just shows how much Force India have improved year after year and that when the car is competitive, both drivers are there scoring points for the team. I really do hope that Di Resta is staying at the team for 2013 as in his two years in the sport, he has shown that he can bring the car home, is dependable and his talent is getting better and better every year. I also wish Hulkenberg every success with Sauber for next year. I can see why Sauber have signed him up. Nico is a great racing driver and is improving all the time. It’s only a matter of time before Nico is a race winner in Formula One.
It is very fitting that Michael Schumacher has scored some decent points in his final Grand Prix of his career. Throughout his second comeback, Michael has managed some decent performances but sadly the car has not been what everyone thought it would be. But even though I am not the biggest Schumacher fan, you cannot discount his contribution to the sport. He is the greatest driver currently with seven titles under his belt and the most Grand Prix wins of any driver. Today, we have seen Michael now pass the baton over to his fellow countryman Vettel. But I hope Michael has a happy retirement and I wish him very success in the future.
Caterham taking 10th place in the Constructor’s Championship! Well, that was a close battle with Marussia. I do feel sorry for Marussia as not only have they lost this position but they have also lost a considerable amount of money that comes from Bernie from gaining this position. But aside this, both teams have a lot to do in order to become competitive within Formula One over the next few years.
Raikkonen deserves a mention. Since his comeback, Raikkonen has been there slightly throughout the season scoring points for the Lotus Renault team and taking a well deserved victory. I think Raikkonen has made the right decision to come back into the sport and deserves his third position in the driver’s championship. You never know Raikkonen may just pose a threat for next year…
Considering Massa at the start of the year was not competitive at all, the latter part of the season he has shown the paddock what he can do. Massa has given some brilliant performances and does I believe deserve to stay at Ferrari for next season. I am not the biggest fan of Alonso but to take the fight to Vettel and Red Bull until the final round of the championship… I have nothing but respect. Alonso didn’t have the best car this year but by taking opportunities as they came, he managed to lead the championship for a while.
Do I think if Alonso didn’t suffer misfortunes in Suzuka and Belgium, would he have took the world championship… I really don’t know. But credit where credit is due, Alonso deserves his second place in the championship but it is going to be a hard battle for Ferrari to challenge Vettel for next year. Can they do it? We shall see.
Red Bull Racing and Vettel have done it again. Taking the Driver’s and Constructor’s title consecutively for the third year in a row. Considering their position a few years ago, this is an incredible achievement. And I think this all down to the team having the right people such as Newey designing a quick car. Webber this year has put in some performances that have shown the Formula One world that he can beat Vettel when luck is on his side. Vettel however is the youngest triple world champion in the sport and seems to be heading into the prime of his career. But can he do it again for the fourth year in a row? We shall see.
Overall, this year has been one of the most exciting years of Formula One for a few years. Seven different winners in seven different races. There have been highs, lows, controversy and bitter pills to swallow. But this is what makes Formula One the pinnacle of motor sport. This is why I love the sport so much. You never know what is going happen year by year, race by race. But what you do see is some of the best drivers in the world race each other and themselves to be the best driver they can be.
I look forward to 2013 with excitement. And I hope you do too. Bring on Melbourne! Bring on March! Bring on 2013!