Webber Closes Season with a Win
Mark Webber ensured he didn’t leave 2011 without a winners’ trophy to his name after clinching the season finale in Brazil. Red Bull always looked like the team to beat and he and race leader Sebastian Vettel quickly pulled away from the chasing pack. However, gearbox troubles for Vettel handed the initiative to Webber while the German had to nurse the RB7 home to second place. Jenson Button surrendered third place to Fernando Alonso early in the race but came back strong on the final stint to retake the final podium position.
With the Ferrari driver relegated to fourth there was a considerable gap back to his team mate as Felipe Massa celebrated his fifth place with donuts in front of his home crowd. That place owed much to the retirement of Lewis Hamilton with his own gearbox issues. A lap down was Adrian Sutil in sixth, impressively bringing home his Force India ahead of Nico Rosberg’s Mercedes while Paul di Resta continued the Indian team’s good weekend finishing eighth. Kamui Kobayashi’s ninth was one of the more significant results as the two points ensured Sauber kept seventh in the constructors’ standings while Vitaly Petrov and Renault took the final point of the season.
Driver of the Day:
A number of contenders but I’ll give it to Adrian Sutil. Not sure where he’ll be driving next year but if this was his final race with Force India it was an impressive ‘for sale’ sign. He’s looked much improved this year, particularly the last few races but beating Nico Rosberg and Mercedes in a straight fight was another step up. It’s a shame that he looks like having to move on as on the basis of their improvement this year, Force India look well placed to finish even further up the standings next year.
Vettel’s problems may have helped but Mark Webber drove with aplomb, setting fastest lap after fastest lap on his way. Perhaps this will be the catalyst for a rejuvenated 2012 season – meanwhile Vettel hasn’t won since October. #StrawClutching
Jenson Button’s late surge was well rewarded with third although it was clear that the Ferrari’s were not dealing with the medium compound all that well. Similarly Fernando Alonso’s early pass of Button was probably the most memorable moment. Further back, Kamui Kobayashi dealt with the pressure and brought home his Sauber for some very valuable points.
Bruno Senna and Michael Schumacher’s coming together warrants a mention, costing the former a drive-through penalty and the latter a puncture. However, the day’s most unfortunate had to be Rubens Barrichello in possibly his last Grand Prix. Buoyed by an outstanding qualifying performance to put his Williams on 12th, a poor start due to gear ratios based on a gamble on a wet start saw him swamped by the field and dumped down to 21st. He bravely recovered to 14th, helped in part by Messrs Senna and Schumacher, but it could have been so much better.
It’s an inevitable question – was Vettel’s gearbox a genuine problem or part of a conspiracy to help his team mate to victory and, potentially, second in the drivers’ standings? Personally, I think it was the former. Sebastian Vettel is not the kind of driver to be that generous and nor do Red Bull seem likely to do that to him. He certainly looked to be short-shifting from on-board shots. With team orders allowed, it all seemed a bit elaborate to go to all that trouble just to let Webber think he’d done it all on his own.
There were some good battles down in the midfield. You may have missed them – the producer certainly did. Besides Alonso’s early pass on Button and Button returning the favour later on, however, this was something of a disappointing end to the season.
|1.||Mark Webber||Red Bull-Renault||1h 32:17.434|
|2.||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull-Renault||+16.983|
|6.||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|7.||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|8.||Paul Di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|9.||Kamui Kobayashi||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|10.||Vitaly Petrov||Renault||+1 Lap|
|11.||Jaime Alguersuari||Toro Rosso-Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|12.||Sebastian Buemi||Toro Rosso-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|13.||Sergio Perez||Sauber-Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|14.||Rubens Barrichello||Williams-Cosworth||+1 Lap|
|15.||Michael Schumacher||Mercedes||+1 Lap|
|16.||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||+2 Laps|
|17.||Bruno Senna||Renault||+2 Laps|
|18.||Jarno Trulli||Lotus-Renault||+2 Laps|
|19.||Jérôme D’Ambrosio||Virgin-Cosworth||+3 Laps|
|20.||Daniel Ricciardo||HRT-Cosworth||+3 Laps|
Fastest Lap: Mark Webber, Red Bull-Renault, 1:15.324
Fastest Pitstop: Lewis Hamilton, McLaren-Mercedes – 20.396s (entry-exit)
|Vitantonio Liuzzi||HRT-Cosworth||Lap 61||Alternator Failure|
|Lewis Hamilton||McLaren-Mercedes||Lap 46||Gearbox|
|Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Cosworth||Lap 26||Accident damage|
|Timo Glock||Virgin-Cosworth||Lap 21||Wheel|
World Drivers’ Championship:
|1.||Sebastian Vettel||392 Points|
|2.||Jenson Button||270 Points|
|3.||Mark Webber||258 Points|
|4.||Fernando Alonso||257 Points|
|5.||Lewis Hamilton||227 Points|
World Constructors’ Championship:
|1.||Red Bull-Renault||650 Points|
What did you make of the Brazilian Grand Prix? Who do you think was driver of the day? Who had a weekend to forget? Did Senna deserve a penalty for tangling with Schumacher? Did Red Bull ‘fix-it’ for Webber? Let us know your thoughts in the comments…
Photo: Red Bull Racing/Paul Gilham/Getty Images