Triple world champion Sebastian Vettel with his idol Michael Schumacher,
after the Brazil GP, on Sunday. (Reuters)
Calcutta: A sensational end to the 2012 F1 season, with more cameramen rushing to sixth-place finisher Sebastian Vettel than to Jenson Button, the Brazilian GP winner!
But that’s because Button won the battle, hitting the chequered flag under the safety car protocol, while the 25-year-old Vettel got the better of Fernando Alonso in an all-out war.
Three points separated the German from the Spaniard. Even one would have sufficed.
The Interlagos circuit, indeed, hosted the most dramatic 71 laps in recent memory, culminating in Vettel becoming only the third driver (and the youngest) to win three World Championships in-a-row.
Expect Red Bull Racing, also the Constructors’ Championship winner, to sponsor a blast in Sao Paulo.
After retaining his Indian GP crown, four weeks ago, Vettel told The Telegraph: “Hopefully, the real big one (celebration) will be later this year...”
He was responding to a question on the rather business-like rejoicing at the Buddh International Circuit. The celebrations, one recalls, lasted a few minutes. The debriefing continued for an hour-and-a-half.
Vettel took to the final race ahead on points, but almost went out in the first lap itself. From fourth on the grid, he slid to the 22nd position, yet rallied remarkably.
Towards the end, down on speed and without radio contact, Vettel took to percentage driving. It was a tactical move. The race, in any case, had been high on strategy: From the number and timing of pit stops to the tyre management.
That it rained for most of the race made it all the more challenging. Both for the driver and his team.
Again, talking exclusively in Greater Noida, Vettel had said: “For me, the next race is the next level... I don’t get carried away.”
Usually, Vettel comes across as relaxed, but he’d been tense before the start on Sunday. That was understandable and the way he fought back after the near-disaster in the first lap, which involved Williams’ Bruno Senna, is sure to increase his stock.
[After his amazing hat-trick, Vettel told the media: “I was nervous, yes... As for my feelings, it’s difficult to find the right word... We just kept believing in ourselves, not getting angry or frustrated with the circumstances...
[“You have to be at the right place at the right time, but you’ve also got to create your own luck... Right now, I’m full of adrenalin... The hardest thing about winning is winning again...”]
Vettel, who has now matched Juan Manuel Fangio and idol Michael Schumacher, didn’t forget to thank his team.
Alonso looked devastated, but was sporting enough to say: “This is a sport... I’m proud of my (Ferrari) team.” He’s got to wait for his third world title, though.
The race wasn’t without its sentimental side as Schumacher ended his F1 career finishing seventh. He’s vowed there won’t be a second comeback.
Wanting to thank his admirers, the seven-time world champion did a pre-race lap of honour.
Nico Hulkenberg won’t be with Sahara Force India next season, but he led the race for a significant number of laps and is a driver to watch out.
Vijay Mallya would be having mixed feelings.