Well, who could have predicted that?
Well, who could have predicted that? Interlagos, Brazil’s premier race circuit, is known for throwing up all sorts of drama, intrigue and thrills, especially when it’s the setting for a championship showdown, but few could have predicted Sunday’s race.
Experts and fans alike know Brazil’s penchant for unpredictable weather, and its sweeping turns and varying gradient is ripe for creating on-track drama, but truly, the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix was something else.
As always, it all started during qualifying, when neither Fernando Alonso nor Sebastian Vettel qualified on the front row. Vettel ended up a respectable fourth, while Alonso was back in eighth – not the best position for leapfrogging Vettel and taking the championship. Fernando needed to finish ahead of Sebastian: a win would be ideal, especially as Sebastian would then have to finish lower than fourth for Fernando to take the title.
Therefore, after Saturday’s qualifying, Fernando must have been starting to feel his dream slowly ebbing away, as knowing the speed of the Red Bull, surely Vettel would be up to the podium positions fairly rapidly after the start? In less than 24 hours they would find out.
On race day it was like the circuit was holding its breath, poised, ready for the start. You could sense the intensity without even being in Sao Paulo, let alone Brazil. It seemed to radiate through the TV into homes across the country as fans settled down for an evening of racing.
As soon as those five red lights went out, it was obvious any attempts to predict the outcome were a terrible idea. After Hamilton led Button into the first corner, mayhem reared its head. All of a sudden Vettel was pointing backwards on the track having been hit by Senna’s Williams. All the remaining cars went past him, and he was dead last. The championship was far from cut and dry.
From then on Brazil threw up a number of fabulous moments. The rain which had been predicted came down, and Button and Hulkenberg gave the field a master class in driving in wet conditions with slick tyres. Their lead had reached 40 seconds until a safety car was brought out for debris on the track, caused by the infinite examples of drivers dicing with each other on track (some attempts more successful than others). Fernando was doing his best to stay in a good position, despite not being able to get the best out of his car, while his teammate showed off the skills we’ve been missing from him in the past few months.
Sebastian clambered his way through the field, suffered a radio failure and had to pit multiple times after opting for intermediates. Kimi Raikkonen demonstrated his rally driving skills after going off track, trying to drive down an escape road to re-join only finding no way out, then having to turn around and blast his car across the grass onto the tarmac: brilliant.
Hamilton led the race briefly, closely followed by Hulkenberg, who then crashed into him while trying to pass on the first corner. Button regained the lead and the rain once again started to fall, just as a final sprinkling of spice on an already vintage race. Jenson once again displayed his wet weather driving skills, eking out a 20 second lead over Alonso and Massa, while Vettel stubbornly clung to his sixth position. By this point the championship was all but over, and as the chequered flag fell it was the young German who took his third title in a row, becoming the youngest driver to win three titles.
And while some may be fed up of seeing Sebastian continuing his dominance, recalling the memory of Schumacher in the 2000s, and others are convinced he still hasn’t proved himself as a driver due to the speed of the Red Bull, there is no denying he earned his championship on Sunday. Of course he had some luck – a safety car and crashes between other drivers amongst other things, but that’s Formula 1. After being relegated to the back he managed to keep a cool head and do what he had to do without getting tangled up in other cars. In short, it was a champion’s drive.