Tuesday, 27 November 2012

The final act...

So, the season is over, and what an ending! As the beginning of the Brazilian Grand Prix approached, it threatened to be a bit of a foregone conclusion. However, that threat was rather weak, as the misty rain refused to abate and more rain was forecast for the rest of the Grand Prix. Everybody knew what was required of them if they were to achieve their various goals, but all of that seemed to be dropped by the wayside, as the cars exited the fourth corner, leaving the reigning World Champion facing the wrong way.

Vettel went in to the race with very little to do, relatively speaking. He was leading the championship by fifteen points and his race should have been straight forward. Alonso, on the other hand, had a far more difficult prospect ahead of him. Sat on the grid, he was aware that he needed at least a third place finish, with Sebastian finishing out of the points, if he was to take the championship.

When the red lights went out, Vettel was sluggish getting away, whilst Alonso had his usual storming start and found himself up in third, exactly where he needed to be if he was to take the title. Then, the unthinkable happened for Red Bull, as Bruno Senna ploughed in to the side of Vettel, on the fourth corner, spinning him round and resulting in half a dozen cars appearing to hit each other and Sebastian. To everyone, including the Red Bull team and Vettel himself, it looked like the young German was out of the race. Seb's race engineer was heard saying, over the team radio, "stay out to see how the car behaves, we cannot fix it". Unbelievably, a few minutes later, Vettel was banging in fastest laps and the damage, although extensive, appeared to be cosmetic only.

As the race progressed, rain, safety cars and pit stops continuously mixed up the pack and it became difficult to judge how the final positions would shake out. Many drivers had excursions off the black stuff. Kimi Raikonnen bounced through the mud, in true Finnish rally style, whilst Alonso, overran the first corner more than once. Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button looked like they might cap off the season with a truly inspired result, until Lewis and Niko Hulkenberg had an unfortunate coming together on the first corner. Hamilton's race, season, and time at McLaren were brought to an abrupt end.

It was Jenson who managed to take one final win for McLaren, which was sort of poetic, since he is the driver that is staying with the British based team. Alonso did everything that could have been expected of him, and similarly Massa was resilient and ever the team player. His reaction on the podium summed up his sheer gratitude at being gifted another shot after the accident that saw him suffer a traumatic head injury a couple of years ago. Fernando was exceptionally graceful in defeat. He looked, understandably, disappointed but full of thanks for the efforts of his Ferrari team. All of the drivers were fantastic ambassadors of the sport in Brazil, but the worthy world champion was Sebastian Vettel.

It was a tense final few laps, that saw Sebastian climb to the required position and Alonso struggle to come near to a flying Button. It was nail-bitingly obvious that a failure or a mistake, from almost any of the cars in the top ten, could have swung the championship outcome in one or other's favour. However, Vettel was the deserving winner. The Brazilian Grand Prix made it two races in which Sebastian had found himself plumb last, for whatever reason, and had then worked his way up to the front of the pack to take valuable points.

This season has been record-breaking, unpredictable and utterly, utterly thrilling. Nobody would have guessed that this season could be as good as last season and yet it was arguably better. Red Bull Racing and Sebastian Vettel have done it again, despite having a relatively poor start to the championship fight. Congratulations to them and thank you to all the people who have followed my blog throughout the season. I wish the racing could continue right on through the winter, and for us, the spectators, we have to wait till next March. However, for the teams, the race does continue, seamlessly on, as they strive to design, develop and innovate faster than their rivals, all in preparation for the 2013 season...