Vettel wins third World Championship in amazing final race

Wow! Just Wow!

The Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday served up some of the most captivating sport I have ever experienced.

For a championship decider, this race had everything. Absolutely everything!

From the moment the rain began to fall around 10 minutes before the light went out, this race took every twist and turn and placed the two championship protagonists under the most extreme pressure.

No one would deny that Alonso, because of the gap he trailed Vettel in the championship, would have wished for some bad fortune to strike Vettel in some way in the race, well, Alonso’s prayers were answered almost immediately as on Lap 1 Bruno Senna spun Vettel round and then was thumped hard by the Sauber of Perez.

An unbelievable turn incident and one that gave Alonso with an wide open goal to win the world championship, but somehow Vettel’s car was not seriously damaged and re-joined the race dead last and set about delivering the comeback under extreme pressure.

As the rain intensified and then eased and then intensified again, and through multiple pitstops for tyres, Vettel was able to storm through the field to work his way back in to championship winning position and when the second and final Safety Car came out on the last lap, Vettel was crowned champion for a third time.

Throughout Vettel’s career, he has been criticised for not being a true racer or being able to overtake, but the last 6 months have proven way beyond any doubt Vettel can do this. He is truly world class, a deserved winner and if winning 3 world titles makes you in affect, a legend of the sport, then that hat sits perfectly well on the young German.

Alonso fought valiantly throughout the year and it was a noble achievement to get his Ferrari in to a position where he could have won the championship at the last race, but his Ferrari fell short in pace over the course of the whole year.

Alonso should take massive credit from his 2012 performances, which should cemented his position as the best driver on the grid and that easily elevates him in to the realms  of being one of the best F1 drivers ever.

It is easy to forget Button won the race, but only after losing out in an exciting battle with his team mate. Hamilton then lost out when he was caught up in a silly incident with Hulkenburg who was driving, in my opinion, the race of his life, having taken the lead before the safety car and mastering the tricky conditions. Hulkenburg spun and took Hamilton out of his final race for McLaren.

It was a frantic and pulsating end to the 2012 championship, a race which defined the pattern of the whole season, and I am sure many of us F1 fans are already counting down the days until lights out in Melbourne.

Congratulations Sebastian.

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The worrying form of Jenson Button

May 16, 2010 - Monte Carlo, Monaco - epa02159167 British Formula One driver Jenson Button of McLaren Mercedes chat with team members in the paddock prior the Monaco Grand Prix at Monte Carlo circuit in Monaco, 16 May 2010.

This is a worrying time for all the F1 drivers, all except the two Red Bull drivers.

For it seems that unless you are in a Adrian Newey designed car your chances of winning a race at the moment are slim. That is why those that have serious plans to be in this championship are having to maximise every opportunity that presents itself to score well to keep in touching distance of Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettle.

In recent races we have seen strong performances from Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton. Both who been able to show that during the race they potentially can keep the blue cars in sight at least. But there is one driver that despite two wins in the championship so far, is starting to worry me about his ability to demonstrate true race pace in “normal” dry conditions. This driver is Jenson Button.

Button who superbly won in Australia and in China when the weather flummoxed 90% of the drivers, was able to demonstrate excellent intuition and decision making when there was no definitive tyre choice to be on. I still stand by the praise and credit Jenson received after these two wins, but lets be fair, we are going to see less races in conditions like in Melbourne and Shanghai throughout the rest of the 2010 season.

If we look at Jenson’s performance in dry races then it indicates a worrying statistic. In dry races Jenson just isn’t fast enough to take the battle to the front, and this will mean he will be out of the championship battle before too long if he is not too careful.

In dry races this season Jenson has finished 7th in Bahrain, 8th in Malaysia and 5th in Spain. This gives Jenson an average dry race finishing position of about 6th place. Jenson retired from this weekends Monaco Grand Prix through no fault of his own, however, a poor qualifying put him down in around 8th, and with no significant retirements, it would be fair to expect Jenson to have finish 6th or 7th.

This means that Jenson is potentially losing 17 points to the championship runners at this stage in the season. As we are entering summer, we are approaching a critical time for the 2009 World Champion, despite him being some 11 points ahead of his team mate Lewis Hamilton and only 8 points off the lead of the championship.

Whereas Button has struggled in dry races in his Mclaren, his team mate has put in solid performances, non more so than in the Spanish Grand Prix, where he was able to force his Mclaren to split the two Red Bulls until a wheel rim failure took 18 vital points from him and it’s this form of his team mate will also add pressure on Jenson, who has yet to look stellar in normal conditions. While Lewis isn’t having a perfect season himself, he is driving really well, despite what Bernie Ecclestone says.

I might sound mad by addressing concern to Jenson’s form and perhaps as the season moves towards a string of races based in Europe where, as we all know the weather could help Button out, it remains to be seen if Jenson can demonstrate true pace in his Mclaren without having the rain gods smile down on him. It seems that this “Hope” for rain is his only chance at the moment, and as I have always been told – Hope is not a strategy!

Australian Grand Prix Review

Mar. 29, 2010 - 05696278 date 28 03 2010 Copyright imago HochZwei Motorsports Formula 1 World Championship 2010 GP of Australia 01 Jenson Button GBR Vodafone McLaren Mercedes xHOCHxZWEIx motor aviation men Formula 1 F1 F World Cup GP Australia Melbourne Award Ceremony Single Vdig xsk 2010 horizontal Highlight premiumd motor aviation Engine Formula 1 Formula One F1 F 1 one Grand Prix grand Prize Australia Australia cheering Celebration Mood mood pleased Look forward happiness jubilant cheering positive Winner Champion happiness Joy Award Ceremony Podium Medal Ceremony Ceremony Honour Human Beings Celebrates rejoicing Winner won partner02.

2 weeks after the Bahrain Grand Prix there have been 14 days full of negative press and debate about how to fix Formula 1. Round 2 in Melbourne turned those comments well and truelly on their head.  In an action packed and thrilling race in which there were more overtaking manoeuvres than can be remembered, Jenson Button came out on top to win a vital race for the 2009 as he seeks to settle in to his new team.

Race day dawned damp and overcast, the expected rain  hit the track as the cars were on the grid 5 minutes before the start of the race.  The wet conditions meant that all the drivers had to start on the intermediate tyres. As the cars lined up on the grid, the race the emphasis was how the cars were going to get off the line on cold intermediates and get through the first couple of corners without any incidents or casualties.  Michael Schumacher was told as to make sure he positioned his car perfectly between the white lines to avoid the chance of wheel spin, but and as the 5 lights went out, Championship leader Fernando Alonso could have done with similar information as he was swamped by the pack from his 4th place grid slot.  With Vettle getting away well and leading in to turn 1, it was a amazing start from Massa that took him from 5th to 2nd, Webber 3rd and then a 3 way battle for for 4th place between the slow starting Alonso, Button and Schumacher and as they turned in to turn 1, the inevitable happened.

With Alonso in a sandwich between Schumacher on his left and Button on his right, when Alonso turned in, Button who had the inside line for the corner could not help but tap the Ferrari in to a spin, with the Ferrari collecting the Mercedes of Schumacher in the process.  As the Ferrari spun across the track the rest of the field took avoiding action.  Hamilton who had made a good start, took to the grass and by turn 3 he was up to 8th from 11th place.  Schumacher who had held on to his car also went through the grass and doing so damaged his front wing.  Alonso was stranded in the middle of the track and had to wait for everyone to filter past him before he could spin turn his car back round and rejoin the race.  He was way down in 22nd place and he then started a sensational drive from the back of the grid.

There was one more major incident on the first lap.  At turn 6 the front nose of the Sauber of Kobayashi collapsed underneath the front of his car rendering his car without any form of steering, sending the Japanese driver hurtling towards the wall.  As he deflected off of the wall he rebounded back in to the field smashing in to Nico Hulkenburg and Sebastien Buemi eliminating all 3 and leaving them all lucky not to be injured in the process.

With 3 cars in the gravel and debris all over the track the Safety Car was inevitable and came out before the end of the first lap, giving Michael Schumacher the chance to pit for a new nose.  The Safety Car was out for 3 laps, coming in at the end of lap 4.

With the cars starting lap 5 Vettle led from Massa, Webber, Kubica, Rosberg, Button and Hamilton. It was Kubica in the Renault that attacked Mark Webber for 3rd straight away and indicated that the Renault would have real pace today. Further down the field we were treated to a bizzare situation with Schumacher trying to overtake Di Grassi in the Virgin only to be re-passed at the very next corner. Something the Brazilian will remember for a while.

Hamilton then managed to pass Button for 6th at turn 3 on lap 6 and set of to attack the Mercedes of Rosberg.  Two corners later a mistake from Massa in second on the slippery track let Webber through to create a Redbull 1-2. Massa was then quickly under attack from Kubica, and as Massa slowed up to defended his position a 6 car train formed – Massa, Kubica, Rosberg, Hamilton, Button and Liuzzi.

It was Button that dropped out of this group at the end of the 6th lap as he made his way sensationally in to the pits to change from intermediates to slicks.  On a slippery and wet track it was a gamble that could have ruined his race. A slow 7.7 second stop saw him rejoin to mass condemnation by BBC commentators Martin Brundle and David Coulthard.  Then as Button slide off the track at turn 3, skating across the gravel trap, it seemed that the wisdom in Button pitting was ill founded.  However, Button rejoined the track and got it together instantly, banging in the fasted 2nd & 3rd sector time.

It was obvious that slicks were they tyre to be on and the majority of the field then followed Button in to the pits to cover off Button’s move to slicks. Massa, Kubica, Rosberg, Hamilton and Schumacher all pitted leaving Vettle, Webber and Sutil out front.  As they all raced back on to the track,  it was clear that Massa and Hamilton had been compromised in their stops, both being delayed on their exit from their box by oncoming cars.  Kubica now the benchmark from the front runners rejoined just in front of Button, who despite his off had managed to jump in front of 3 cars and was clearly the fastest man on track and disposed of Kubica in clinical style while the Pole was still getting his tyres up to working temperature.

On Lap 10 Button put in the fastest lap of the race and was nearly 5 seconds a lap faster that the drivers on intermediates, and it was no surprise that Vettle and Sutil pitted, leaving Webber to lead, however he was the only front runner out on the intermediates.  The Australian pit at the end of the lap and put him out in front of Massa, but a mistake at turn one on cold tyres let Massa through and put Barrichello and the recovering Hamilton right on his tail and the Aussie down in 6th.

The order on Lap 12 saw Vettle leading from Button, Kubica, Rosberg, Massa, Webber, Hamilton, Barrichello, De La Rosa and Alonso sensationally in 10th after being dead last on lap one.

The next couple of laps saw Vettle start to pull away from Button at about 3/4 of a second per lap and saw him starting to put a bit of day light between the Mclaren.  Mark Webber made up from his earlier mistake and passed Massa at turn 1.  As he did so Hamilton pounced on Massa who was forced off line and as they made their way to turn 3 on Lap 16, Hamilton pulled alongside Webber and ahead, but Webber wasn’t having any of it and tried to brake later that Hamilton, but it didn’t work.  The Redbull driver headed off in to the gravel letting Massa have back the two places he had lost 3 corners earlier. All this allowed Alonso to join in the fun in 8th place. It had been an utterly breathless start to a race and a complete contrast to the snooze-fest in Bahrain.

Hamilton was able to get past Massa on lap 22 at turn 3 and was then quickly on to the tail of Nico Rosberg in 4th place. The Briton looking the fastest and most aggressive driver on track and an outside threat to Vettle for the win if he could maintain this blistering pace.  On lap 26 Hamilton passed Rosberg in an amazing move round the outside at the fast turn 11-12 chicane. Rosberg looked to get Hamilton at the next corner but was confronted with waved yellow flags and had to fall back in line.

Amazingly the yellow flags were for the race leader Vettle. The German facing the wrong way and sunk deep in the gravel trap at turn 13 had lost what seemed to be a stuck on race victory for the second race running.  The replays showed the Redbull locking its brakes and heading straight off.  A problem with a front wheel leaving Vettle with no brakes was to blame and left the team cursing its reliability for losing yet another win.

This put Button in the lead from Kubica running a great race in the Renault, Hamilton 3rd, Rosberg 4th, Massa 5th and Webber in 6th.  Hamilton was breathing heavily behind the Renault and looked like if he could pass the Renault, we could be treated to a battle for the win between the two team mates, but all this was about to change.

Mark Webber was in the pits on lap 33 changing his tyres from to the harder compound, and as he rejoined Mclaren decided to cover off Webber by pulling Hamilton in to the pits.  The wisdom of this can be argued in hindsight, but this ended Hamilton’s chances of race victory because, none of the other cars in front of him came in to pit.  To make the matters worse, Button had just posted one to the fastest laps of the race.  What was clear here was it was a decision by the team to pull Hamilton in, and as this slowly dawned on Hamilton his frustration became clear.

The shake out left Hamilton and Webber chasing down Alonso in 4rd place, and enjoying a tyre advantage the pair was able to recover the gap by lap 50.   This was tough on Hamilton who had worked his socks off in the early part of the race and now had to slog out quick laps to regain the ground lost, but do it he did.

Meanwhile Schmacher managed to pass the Torro Rosso of Jamie Alguersuari for 13th place, after having struggled to over take him for some 15 laps. It certainly wasn’t where the German expected to be scrapping when he decided to make his comeback.

With 3 laps to go, and Lewis swarming all over the rear of Fernando, the Britain made a move on the Ferrari in an attempt to steal 4th place, as the pair squirmed under breaking, Hamilton had to let Alonso have the turn, but as he turned in Webber failed to anticipate Hamilton’s switchback and ploughed straight in to the right rear wheel of Hamilton and spun both drivers out in to the gravel. Luckily both drivers were able to get themselves back on track, however it was the Redbull that had a damaged front wing and needed to head to the pits, Hamilton was able to recover but was now behind Rosberg.

While all the fireworks were going on Jenson Button had managed to pull out a comfortable lead to Kubica and came through to take victory, his first for his new team Mclaren. Kubica was second to raise the morale of the Renault team, and Massa took the final place on the podium after hold off his faster team mate Alonso.  On the final lap Schumacher was able to snatch 10 place from De La Rosa to earn him a single point.

This was an action packed Australian Grand Prix, that had thrills and spills all the way through.  Helped by changing weather condition and drivers on different tyre strategies, this was the best way to respond to the critics who say F1 is boring.  Next up is Malaysia in 7 days and if the race is only half as good as the race in Melbourne, then we are in for a real treat.

1.  Button        McLaren-Mercedes           1h33:36.531
 2.  Kubica        Renault                    +    12.034
 3.  Massa         Ferrari                    +    14.488
 4.  Alonso        Ferrari                    +    16.304
 5.  Rosberg       Mercedes                   +    16.683
 6.  Hamilton      McLaren-Mercedes           +    29.898
 7.  Liuzzi        Force India-Mercedes       +    59.847
 8.  Barrichello   Williams-Cosworth          +  1:00.536
 9.  Webber        Red Bull-Renault           +  1:07.319
10.  Schumacher    Mercedes                   +  1:09.391
11.  Alguersuari   Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +  1:11.301
12.  De la Rosa    Sauber-Ferrari             +  1:14.084
13.  Kovalainen    Lotus-Cosworth             +    2 laps
14.  Chandhok      HRT-Cosworth               +    4 laps

Fastest lap: Webber 1:28.358

Alonso defends F1

In an interview prior to the Australian Grand Prix this weekend, Fernando Alonso has come out with a stern defence of F1.

Speaking to Formula1.com Alonso stated:

This is Formula One and not Cirque du Soleil. If people want to see extra show interludes they probably should reconsider if they want to watch Formula One.

Cirque du Soleil translates to “Circus of the Sun“. A Canadian entertainment company that proclaims to offer “dramatic mix of circus arts and street entertainment.”

I thought this was a particularly excellent statement on the values of F1 and how we need to be careful before we go around worrying about the sport being a “show”.

F1 is not always exciting, but when it is, I firmly believe it is up there with one of the most captivating sports in the world.