It’s not the first time that the Formula 1 title has gone down to the wire. Far from it, since any fan of the sport can certainly recall some epic finales.
In 2008, for example, when Ferrari’s Felipe Massa crossed the finish line, he had won not only the Brazilian Grand Prix but also the world championship as McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton was in sixth place. The latter, though, passed Timo Glock in the second-to-last corner and moved up to fifth, clinching the title by a single point and leaving Massa second.
This year the Interlagos circuit would host yet another title decider. Red Bull Racing’s Sebastian Vettel came with a 13-point advantage over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, so he was the favorite. In F1, though, anything can happen and, indeed, last Sunday’s race will most likely be remembered for quite some time.
Being hit in the first lap and dropping to last place seemed to swing the tide in Alonso’s favor, who suddenly had gained the advantage. He wasn’t battling for the win, as the McLarens of Hamilton and Button were much quicker and the Nico Hulkenberg in the Force India was the only one who could match their pace.
As it started to drizzle and the track became slippery enough for even the best drivers in the world to struggle with grip, pitting for intermediate tires was the right thing to do.
Someone forgot to tell Button and Hulkenberg, though, because they both stayed out on slicks and had a marvelous duel, with the German passing the McLaren and giving Force India a whiff of its first-ever win.
Their huge advantage over the rest of the field, who had pitted for tires, was nullified when the safety car came out bringing all cars close together.
When it withdrew, Hamilton passed Button and then tried to do the same with Hulkenberg. The latter, however, tried to hang on but his car slid and hit Hamilton, forcing both drivers to retire.
Meanwhile in the back, Vettel was quickly gaining places but Alonso was given a second chance as when the defending champion had to pit due to heavy rain, the Red Bull crew botched-up the tire change and he dropped to 12th place.
For the second time, he managed to recover and climb up to sixth while Alonso was second, more than 20 seconds behind Button. If things stayed that way until the end, Vettel would be the champion.
The second Force India, that of Paul di Resta, ensured that they did, as his crash brought out the safety car once again – and things stayed that way until the end of the race with Vettel winning his third consecutive title with a 3-point margin from Alonso.
The Spaniard was magnanimous in defeat, saying that he felt proud of both himself and the team for the effort they had made the whole season.
Vettel, who became the youngest triple world champion in F1 history beating the late Ayrton Senna’s record said: “Everything that could go wrong went wrong… It’s very difficult to find the right words, especially after the race today. It was unbelievable.”
That's probably the understatement of the year...
By Andrew Tsaousis