The Mercedes AMG Petronas team had a dramatic rain soaked Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos on Sunday that saw Michael Schumacher end his Formula One career battling and finishing in seventh place, while teammate Nico Rosberg finished in 15th position.
Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel may have finished only sixth at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prixo, but it was enough to make him the first triple world champion since Michael Schumacher.
Light rain made the start difficult, but then Vettel was spun through 180 degrees in Turn Four as he was hit by Bruno Senna’s Williams, which then took out Sergio Perez’s Sauber.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton led Button in the early stages as Massa boiled through to snatch third place and then handed the place to Alonso on the fifth lap. But soon the conditions were bad enough for some to consider switching their slicks for Pirelli’s intermediates.
Button began to press Hamilton, and as Alonso ran wide in Turn One, Nico Hulkenberg took third in his Force India. Button led the sixth lap by a hair from Hamilton, who quickly repassed, but by lap eight Button was back in control and on the tenth Hamilton pitted, together with Alonso and Vettel, for the intermediates.
As mayhem reigned in the pits, Button and Hulkenberg – both still on slicks – pulled out a 40s lead, and on the 18th lap the German moved ahead. But their advantage was negated by a safety-car intervention between laps 23 and 29 to clear away debris, handing their pursuers a lifeline.
On the restart on Lap 30 Hulkenberg pulled away, but Button had grained his front tires and was repassed by Hamilton. The latter then set about reeling in Hulkenberg and snatched the lead on the 48th lap when the Force India twitched sideways. The conditions were beginning to worsen with more rain, however, and as the two leaders come across Raikkonen on the 54th lap, rejoining after a spin, and lapped runners Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock, Hulkenberg grabbed the opportunity to dive inside Hamilton as they crossed the line to start the 55th lap.
Unfortunately he then spun under braking for the Senna S, and hit Hamilton’s left-front wheel. The Briton’s last race for McLaren thus ended badly, and as Button resumed the lead Hulkenberg dropped back after being awarded a drive-through penalty for the incident.
There was more drama. Vettel pitted for medium tires on the 52nd lap, then came back in on the 54th for intermediates, but the second time around the tyre warmer on the new right-front wheel proved reluctant to come off, costing him precious time.
So with 11 laps to go Button was 16s ahead of Massa, who had driven a heroic race in which he helped Alonso at every opportunity. He duly handed his second place to the Spaniard on the 62nd lap, as Vettel worked his way up to sixth behind team mate Webber, who’d lost time earlier with a half spin, and Hulkenberg.
When Vettel subsequently overtook Schumacher on the 64th lap, the points situation became 281 to 278. There was to be no miracle for Ferrari, after all. Vettel was the triple consecutive world champion.
But there was one more drama to be played out. It came when Paul di Resta crashed his Force India heavily in the final sector on the 69th lap, bringing the safety car out again. Di Resta was okay, and as the safety car pulled in again before the 71st lap was over, in accordance with the rules, the field crossed the line for the last time under the yellows.
Button was delighted with a book-end victory, while Alonso was philosophical in defeat and Massa emotional on his home ground in another race in which he could have outpaced his team leader.
Ferrari thus stayed ahead of McLaren for the runner-up slot in the constructors’ championship. Webber was fortunate to be fourth after his adventures, as was Hulkenberg to be fifth. Vettel beamed from ear to ear, no longer caring that his damaged Red Bull had been bog slow in a straight line.
Behind Schumacher, seventh on his 306th and final outing, Jean-Eric Vergne drove a great race to eighth for Toro Rosso as Kamui Kobayashi’s yo-yo race yielded Sauber ninth ahead of Raikkonen, who never recovered from the off in Turn 12 where he had much trouble getting back on to the track after a trip up an escape road.
Eleventh was the subject of a massive fight between Caterham and Marussia. In the end Vitaly Petrov atoned for a spin while fighting with Charles Pic to catch and repass the Frenchman. That one move was worth 10th in the constructors’ standings to Tony Fernandes’ team, as they moved back ahead of Marussia.
Daniel Ricciardo was 13th after a late tyre stop in his Toro Rosso, but was comfortably ahead of the fight for 14th between Caterham’s Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg who had an appalling day in his Mercedes, and Marussia’s Timo Glock.
Kovalainen’s late pass on both was the icing on the cake for Caterham. Pedro de la Rosa headed Narain Karthikeyan home in the HRTs, and Di Resta was classified 19th as Hamilton, Senna and Perez were joined on the retirement list by Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado who also spun out.
Mercedes AMG Petronas team thoughts and tire info for the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix
- Both drivers suffered a puncture from debris in the early stages of the race which compromised their afternoons
- Michael stopped four times on laps 5, 8, 17 and 54, with a prime/prime/inter/prime/inter tire usage
- Nico also came into the pits four times on laps 9, 18, 20 and 50, using option/inter/prime/prime/inter tires
|Drivers||Car No.||Chassis No.||Race Result / Fastest Lap|
|Michael Schumacher||7||F1 W03 / 03||P7 1:20.158|
|Nico Rosberg||8||F1 W03 / 09||P15 1:20.266|
|Temperatures||Air: 18-19°C||Track: 20-23°C|
What an exciting and eventful Grand Prix! Strangely enough, my last ever Formula One race began with a puncture which pushed me down the running order. But it’s always been my philosophy to never give up – there’s always a chance, you just have to keep going and seize it when it comes. It’s a strange sort of coincidence that I’ve ended my Formula One career now in P7, which was my first ever qualifying result at Spa-Francorchamps 308 races ago. It also occurs to me that I was driving with the number seven on my car today and that I have seven world championship trophies in my cabinet. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel on claiming his third world title in a row. I’m very proud of Sebastian and really thrilled for him. As early as the first lap, I suddenly found him blocking the track facing the wrong way, but then the two of us both staged great comebacks in the race. His performance also showed that you just have to keep plugging away. Even under these difficult conditions, my final Formula One race was tremendous fun, and I would once again like to thank the team and all my fans for their support over the past years. I’ve enjoyed the time we’ve spent together very much indeed.
That was definitely the longest race of my life today! The start was pretty good, and I was running in the top eight. After the puncture however, there was damage to the floor and I lost a lot of performance. So unfortunately I had no chance to fight back from there. It must have been a fantastic race for the fans here in Interlagos and watching on the TV and I hope they enjoyed the show. Congratulations to Sebastian on the world title which is very well deserved. For myself, I am now looking forward to next year and the chance to attack again. Many thanks to the team for all of their efforts this year which saw our first win together, and we can look forward to making further progress and a better 2013.
We saw a very dramatic race today and a fitting finale to a great season for Formula One. From our perspective, the two punctures early on put us in a difficult position with both cars. Nico’s car suffered a lot of damage and that made his race very difficult. Michael’s puncture wasn’t as severe and the team did a good job to recover, with some help from the safety car. Michael showed all of the skills that we know he has today to salvage his race; considered overtaking, good decisions on tire strategy, and he kept the car on the road to bring us home some points. It was a nice way to finish the season and his career with us. In terms of results, his second spell in Formula One hasn’t been as special but it has been so for all of us who have had the privilege of working with him. It has been a real honour for all of the boys and girls at our team, and working alongside Michael gives you a real understanding of why he is so special and has achieved seven world championships. He will be missed and we all wish him the very best for the future. Congratulations to Sebastian on achieving his third world title today, a very impressive achievement.
What an incredibly dramatic way to round off a long championship season! Michael and Nico had to make unplanned stops for punctures caused by debris on the track, losing a lot of time in the process. Both cars sustained damage to their underbody as a result, which affected downforce and pushed up lap times, with Nico’s car suffering more than Michael’s. In his final race, Michael mastered the difficult, damp conditions on the track in impressive style, battling his way through to seventh place. It was great to see Michael overcoming all these problems to finish among the points in his last ever Formula One race. We thank Michael not only for his tremendous dedication and his racing achievements for our team, but also for those great personal qualities that he manifested at all times. The three seasons he spent with us will always serve as a model of team play at its best. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing on wrapping up the world championship hat-trick. To become world champion three years in succession is a remarkable feat that has been achieved by only two previous drivers – Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.