Vettel makes Formula 1 history with third straight championship
SAO PAULO - The Associated Press
Sebastian Vettel and fellow RedBull members celebrate the German superstar’s third World Championship at the Interlagos circuit in Brazil. AFP photoSebastian Vettel found himself spinning around on the track just after the start, watching helplessly as other cars whizzed past him. His Formula One title hopes seemed to be drifting away with them.
It was only the start of Vettel’s problems on Nov. 25 in what he called the toughest race of his career. But he overcame all of them and walked away with the only prize that mattered - his third straight championship title.
Vettel shook off a first-lap crash and other difficulties to finish sixth at the Brazilian GP, good enough to protect his lead over challenger Fernando Alonso and become F1’s youngest three-time champion at age 25.
“It’s very difficult to find the right words, especially after the race today,” he said. “Everything that could go wrong went wrong.”
Jenson Button of McLaren won the race at Interlagos, with Alonso second and Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa third. Seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher, F1’s most successful driver, finished seventh in his final race after 19 seasons. But they were all overshadowed by Vettel, who had to overcome a poor start, the early crash, a damaged car, a broken radio, a botched pit stop and pouring rain to capture the championship title.
“Just look at the stuff that went wrong. It was for sure the toughest race,” Vettel said. “We kept believing. It was never game over.”
Vettel appeared to be in trouble when he was bumped shortly after the start and spun. He dropped to last place before he could turn his car around and begin a difficult pursuit. But he steadily worked his way up the field despite a slightly damaged car and no radio communication.
“You are the man, you are a triple world champion,” a team official told Vettel on the radio after he crossed the line.
Vettel is the first driver with three titles in a row since Schumacher won five straight from 2000-04. The only other driver to win at least three consecutive championships was Juan Manuel Fangio from 1954-57.
“It’s unbelievable,” Vettel said. “It’s still full of adrenaline. Incredible race today.”
Vettel needed to finish fourth or better to clinch the title regardless of Alonso’s result. The Spaniard, who needed to finish on the podium to have a chance of overtaking Vettel, looked to have the advantage after a superb start and a chaotic first lap, but in the end couldn’t erase Vettel’s 13-point lead in the standings.
It rained on and off throughout the race, making conditions difficult and forcing drivers to come in and out of the pits several times.
Alonso briefly had the title in his hands again after more rain fell with 14 laps to go. Red Bull lost time while putting the wet tires on Vettel’s car, dropping him to 11th place while Alonso moved into third.
But after all cars pitted, Vettel was back in sixth place. Alonso moved to second after passing Massa, but he needed Vettel to drop a few more spots to take the title.
Vettel got off to a slow start this season, winning once in the first 13 races, but he eventually picked up the pace with Red Bull and won four straight beginning in Singapore GP to get back in contention.
Alonso celebrates 'best season' of his career
SAO PAULO - The Associated Press
Despite losing the title, Fernando Alonso called this “by far the best season” of his career.
“It’s a very good feeling I have now,” he said. “I’m so proud to fight until the last lap. That is the best thing for me, to feel proud of myself, it was by far the best season of my career and I will remember 2012 like some dream season.”
“I score this season a 10,” Alonso said. “If we had to repeat these 20 races I would change nothing done by the team or yours truly. We definitely did not lose the title today.”
So what is he hoping for in 2013? “That’s easy: a quicker car,” he said.
Curtain down on Schumacher’s colorful career
SAO PAULO - AFP
Michael Schumacher bade an emotional farewell to the sport on Nov. 25 after finishing seventh in the Brazilian Grand Prix, bringing down the curtain on his controversial, colorful career.
“My emotions are under control at the moment, maybe later having a drink and hugging the mechanics it’ll become more sentimental but I’m looking forward to life after Formula One now”, he said.
He added that he had enjoyed his “second career” with Mercedes, saying: “It’s been a beautiful time. Lots of exciting moments we shared, and lots of tough moments.”