Button wins wild Brazilian GP, Vettel 3rd straight title
Vettel was spun out by moving chicane Bruno Senna on lap 2 and, with his car damaged, had to claw his way back from last in horrible track conditions to win the title over Alonso by just three points for himself and Red Bull Renault Racing 281 vs. 278 for Alonso.
7-Time world champion Michael Schumacher claimed seventh in the final race of his F1 career, despite a late brush of wheels with Kobayashi, who ended up ninth behind Jean-Eric Vergne.
Only Juan Fangio and Michael Schumacher have won three (or more) straight F1 titles putting Vettel in pretty elite company.
After an epic finale to the 2012 calendar in Brazil, Red Bull's Vettel finished off the podium but 3 points ahead of Ferrari's Fernando Alonso.
It was a tumultuous race for the sport's new and youngest-ever triple title winner, as he carried to the checkered flag hefty damage from a first lap spin and crash through stop-start rain, and radio and pitstop problems.
"I've aged about 15 years!"
With Vettel's celebrations occurring elsewhere, it was a strangely somber affair on the podium, as the glassy-eyed Spaniard Alonso rued his championship defeat, and an emotional Felipe Massa fought back tears as he stood before crying Ferrari mechanics.
"When you do something with your heart and do it 100 per cent, you have to be proud of yourself and your team and we'll try again next year," said Alonso.
Triple world champion Nelson Piquet said on the podium that Interlagos 2012 was "the most exciting race I've ever seen in formula one".
Christian Horner believes Sebastian Vettel is a "worthy" World Champ because he beat the "best" there is, he beat Fernando Alonso.
With Alonso bringing his F2012 home in second place in Brazil, Vettel needed seventh or better to become F1's youngest ever triple World Champ.
The German went even better, finishing in sixth place to beat Alonso by three points.
And Horner reckons this title, Vettel's third successive success, has shown him to be a worthy World Champion.
"It was such an eventful start and Sebastian Vettel got turned around at the start," the Red Bull team boss told the BBC.
"Then the rain came and the radio stopped working and we couldn't really communicate with him. But he stuck at it and he has driven with such determination this year.
"He thoroughly deserves this World Championship because he has never given up.
"Congratulations to Fernando Alonso too, he has been brilliant this year.
"That is what makes this Championship so worthy because he has been up against the best."
Schumacher the most successful driver in formula 1 history, completed a lap with a flag that thanked the fans on his way to the grid - in this his final race of his 21 year career.
As the cars formed up, the skies were grey but just a few tiny drops fell on the grid. However, about three minutes before the warm up lap, it could be described as very light rain, although all 24 cars were resolutely on slicks. As the lights went out, Massa immediately got the better of Button to lie second behind pole man Hamilton and at the end of the first lap, the McLaren retook second place as Alonso got by his team mate and Webber at the Senna “S” to chase the two McLarens, with Massa now sixth as Hulkenberg and Webber got past him. Vettel, was caught up as others braked early and he spun colliding with Senna, which dropped him to 20th.
On lap 5 Alonso ran very wide which allowed Hulkenberg to get ahead of him and Webber to close right up to the Ferrari. Massa got ahead of the Australian which thus protected Alonso as the Spaniard re-established his pace. Webber then spun on lap 7 one lap after Button swept past his team-mate to take the lead. Vettel? He was back up to eleventh by lap 7, as the two McLarens continued to fight, swapping places at the front of the field, with Hamilton back in front on lap 8. Behind them, Hulkenberg was third in the Force India 2.2 behind, with Alonso 5.5 further back in fourth, and Massa fifth, 3.4 behind his team-mate. Vettel was up to sixth trailing the Brazilian by 3.0.
Lap 10 saw Hamilton and Alonso both pit for intermediate rain tires, followed by Vettel and Di Resta. Two laps later, the rain began to ease as Button led Hulkenberg with Hamilton third ahead of Massa, who had Vergne in the Toro Rosso behind him. Kovalainen in the Caterham had gone from twentieth to sixth behind Alonso. The Spaniard passed his team mate to take fourth on lap 14. He was 17 seconds behind Hamilton, with Button and Hulkenberg at the front yet to pit. Massa and Vergne came in for intermediates on lap 15 the Brazilian dropping to 14th when he rejoined.
By lap 17, Hulkenberg was right up on leader Button’s tail, as they were the only men to have managed to stay out on slick tires since the start. Lap 18 and there was a rush to return to slicks, with Alonso, Kobayashi, Rosberg and Di Resta all doing it, as Hulkenberg got ahead of Button to lead the Grand Prix on lap 19. Vettel pitted next time round, Red Bull doing a double stop as Webber followed, as did Ricciardo, Raikkonen, Massa, Glock, Petrov and Kovalainen.
Lap 21 and Hulkenberg set a fastest lap while Alonso was fourth ahead of Vettel, with Massa eleventh as the Safety Car came out on lap 22 so that debris could be cleared from the track, after Rosberg punctured. Hulkenberg and Button finally came in for a tire change, which meant they maintained their places at the head of the field. On lap 26 as the lapped cars were allowed to pass the SC it seemed there was rain again at Turn 4. Lap 29 and the SC finally pulled in so the race was on again with the top eleven cars all nose to tail on slicks on a damp track! Vettel was caught out and dropped to sixth, while in front on lap 30, as Hulkenberg pulled away, Hamilton again got past his team-mate. Alonso was fourth, but behind the Ferrari, Kobayashi had got ahead of Vettel. Then the Sauber man also managed to get in front of the Spaniard, who regained the position at the start of lap 33. Massa meanwhile had moved up to seventh and then passed Vettel for sixth on lap 34. Massa, having stayed out a long time on slicks which cost him time, was charging now and on lap 37 he took fifth place off Kobayashi and the Brazilian was three seconds behind his team-mate. More light rain came around lap 43, mainly in Sector 1. The two Ferraris were having a lonely race at this point, with Alonso 5.6 behind third placed Button and Massa a further 4.9 behind. Meanwhile Hamilton had relegated Hulkenberg to second when the Force India half spun on lap 49.
Vettel pitted from seventh on lap 52, which dropped him to tenth. Lap 55 and Hulkenberg tried to attack Hamilton which resulted in them colliding at turn 1. As conditions worsened, Kobayashi, Schumacher and Vettel returned to the pits to fit intermediates. Massa did the same on lap 55, as did Webber. Vettel’s crew had not been ready and he had a long stop. Alonso, now third came in for Inters on 56, rejoining fourth. Button had been leading and he made the change to Inters on lap 57 followed by Hulkenberg, who unlike Hamilton was able to continue after their collision. At this point, Massa was third ahead of Alonso thanks to a well timed switch to intermediates for the Brazilian, with Vettel going seventh as Di Resta ahead of him pitted. Hulkenberg lost his position when he had to take a drive through penalty on lap 58, for his collision with the McLaren. The Ferrari were now second and third, the Brazilian ahead of the Spaniard, as the rain intensified.
On lap 62 of 71, Alonso passed his team-mate to lie 21 seconds behind leader Button. The Englishman had an unassailable lead by now and Alonso’s title hopes could only depend on a misfortune for Vettel. Nothing happened, except that a late crash for Di Resta in the Force India meant the last race of the year actually ended behind the Safety Car.
The final figures tell the story: Vettel 281, Alonso 278: just three little points at the end of 20 Grands Prix. In the Constructors, another second place: Red Bull Racing 460, Scuderia Ferrari 400.
Mark Webber (4th): "The race lived up to expectations today and the conditions were obviously very tricky for all of us. We weren't particularly strong today pace wise and both Seb and I were pretty vulnerable on restarts, as well as the start of the race on slicks. I got hit pretty hard on the inside, I think it was one of the Sauber's, and we had to press on from there. We got probably what we could have out of today and we made a good call to go to the intermediate treys when we did. For Sebastian, it was a great effort. He has joined a pretty decent club now and has even set his own some ways, the youngest ever World Champion and now a triple World Champion - you've got to take your hat off to him. The season has gone fast, there have been a lot of different winners, some ups and downs, a lot of crashes and a couple of nice wins for myself. I'm now looking forward to having a break, to recharge and then it's on to 2013."
Sebastian Vettel (6th): "It's difficult to imagine what goes through my head now, I am so full of adrenalin. It was an incredible race, everything that could have happened to make it more difficult for us today, happened! I got turned around in Turn 4 for no reason and was heading the wrong way; so I had to get straight and was lucky no one hit me. The car was damaged and we lost speed in straights, even more as it dried up, but fortunately it started to rain again. All weekend people tried to push us in a certain direction and said if it rained it would be harder for us, but we have proven today that we like rain conditions as much as the dry. I am very, very happy. The most important thing throughout the season is that we kept pushing and remained ourselves. We just try to do our thing and stick to the route that we know and that's what made the difference. Some people try to play games, but we never get distracted, we keep going our way. Everyone at Milton Keynes and here at the circuit, they are always pushing so hard and we really stepped up our game in the second half of the season. I would like to thank everyone in the team and at Renault. There's no one in this team that feels more important than any one else, we all push together, alongside each other, it's one big force and I'm very proud of that. It's unreal what has happened. To win a third title, especially here where one of my heroes Ayrton Senna was from, it's difficult to put into words. I was crying in the car but my radio wasn't working, so I'm maybe happy for that! Tomorrow I can probably say more, but now I just don't have the right words."
Christian Horner, Team Principal: "An unbelievable end to what has been a really incredible season. We always knew this Championship was going to go right down to the wire and I don't think anybody could have expected the kind of race we got today. But, to have achieved a triple double World Championship is quite phenomenal. Sebastian has driven better than ever this season and has fought his way back into this Championship; he's never given up and you saw that in today's race. After being knocked out of position and going to the back of the field with a load of damage, he fought his way back into the race, he never gave up and it was a race of maximum stress today with rain and no rain, then incidents, spins, you name it, it happened - safety cars, radios that didn't work - but you have to reflect on the season as a whole. Over 20 races the team has done an unbelievable job and Sebastian truly deserves this World Championship. Having gone up against an incredible opponent in Fernando Alonso, and we have to pay tribute to him and the way he's driven this year, it has made this Championship even more appreciated because of the level of competition we've had to compete against. So, all I can do is thank every single member of the team for everything that they've put in. I'd like to thank Dietrich Mateschitz for his commitment, backing and support, and the encouragement that he's given all of us. To all the members of Red Bull who have been with us all the way through this, and of course to all of our partners that have grown and been on this journey with us over the last three years, A big thank you on behalf of the whole team to all of them. It's going to take a little while for the success to sink in."
Adrian Newey, Chief Technical Officer: "The whole season has been an amazing ride, but today, to finish it like that down to the wire with so many obstacles - the first lap incident, the concern about the damage to both the bodywork and the exhaust, the fact that the car was then hard on its treys, the radio failing - was just great; you know, we had so many things thrown against us. I think to come through all that and still get enough points to win the Championship was a real testament to team and driver. For Seb to get three championships, I don't know how you'd be able to describe that, but I think the hallmark of the year really has been the tenacity shown by the team. We struggled with the car at the start of the year, trying to understand how it worked with the loss of the side exhaust, and to turn around a slightly difficult sub car at the start of the year, to get it to the point where we were able to seal the Constructors' a week ago and then again here with the Drivers' - it's just been a great tribute to everybody."
Cyril Dumont, Renault: "It was a tough race. Seb was in the last position after he spun and after that we lost radio contact. It was pretty difficult - we changed to slick treys and then had to stop again to change to intermediates, but we weren't ready due to the radio issue. It's been difficult on our side with the alternator issue at the previous race, so it seems running the new specification here was the right decision to take. All in all it's been a difficult season, but we reached the goal we wanted. I'd like to thank all of my team at the track, back at Viry and everyone who's part of the Renault Group and the people working for Mecachrome. A big thank you to everyone, it's been a pleasure to work with you over the last six years."
Jenson Button (1st): "Everyone who took part in today's race deserves respect - it was crazy out there! The conditions were always going to trigger plenty of action, because some cars could generate the required tire temperatures and others couldn't. So, for most of the race, you were on a tire that didn't feel quite right for the conditions, but for which the lap-times looked okay compared with those of the cars on the other tire. I spent so much time speaking on the radio to my engineer, Dave [Robson], trying to understand what was going to work and what wasn't. I had a lot of fun racing with Lewis, especially for the first 10 laps. We had a really good, clean fight. It's a pity he wasn't still there at the end - but it was nice to have such a great dice with him in our last race as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team-mates. And I really want to say this: 'It's been so good working with you, Lewis. Over the past few years, we've driven a lot of great races together. It's been fab. Going back to the subject of today's race, the Safety Car made life more difficult for us - we lost the 40-second buffer we'd built up - but then the rain really came down, and the race became all about choosing the best time to switch to the Inters. Then the challenge altered, and it became all about nursing the car to the end. There was a lot of standing water about, especially where Paul [di Resta] had his accident. I'd been through there on the previous lap and had a big snap too, which was a pretty scary moment. Last but not least, congratulations to Sebastian [Vettel]. To win three world championships in a row is a great achievement."
Lewis Hamilton (DNF, Accident): "Huge congratulations to Jenson - and to Sebastian too. It's a shame we weren't able to seal second position in the constructors' world championship together, but we did our best. Congratulations to Sebastian, too - his team kept it together and, under a lot of pressure, they pulled through today. Now that the 2012 season is done and dusted, I feel a bit numb. It's been a day of mixed emotions. I'm sad that I didn't finish the race, but I'm excited about the future. I'll miss my friends and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, but I'm optimistic about what lies ahead for me. I feel comfortable going into this winter because I feel I did a good job this year. I gave 2012 everything I had. I couldn't have done anything more. As for today, I don't remember too much about the accident with Nico [Hulkenberg], but he came to see me after the race, which was nice. It's been a brilliant experience to be a part of the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team over the past six years. I want to thank everyone and sincerely wish everyone the very best for the future. They've been fantastic, so supportive, and they continue to do an amazing job. So, to all of you at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, I'll miss each and every one of you."
Martin Whitmarsh, Team Principal: "Jenson drove a millimeter-perfect race today, brilliantly managing the changeable and challenging weather conditions that always bring out the very best in him, and notched up his 15th grand prix victory as a result. Lewis was driving equally well when a coming-together with Nico cruelly ended his race. The points we thereby lost were what prevented us from overhauling Ferrari's constructors' world championship points total today. It would have been fantastic if we could have scored the one-two finish that was clearly within our reach but for that collision, not least for Lewis, whose superb record for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes warrants setting out here: 110 grands prix, 21 wins, 49 podium places, 26 pole positions, 12 fastest laps and 913 world championship points. On behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes, we wish him well. As for Jenson, the superb winner of today's race, I speak on behalf of everyone at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes when I say how delighted we are that he was able to win here today, thereby book-ending his 2012 season with a magnificent victory to go with his season-opening win in Melbourne. He also won in fine style at Spa, of course. And here's one for the train-spotters: Jenson has now scored more podium places in the three seasons he's driven for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes  than he'd scored in the 10 seasons he'd driven for his previous teams . So there are many reasons for us to be cheerful today. We've won the season's last two grands prix, both wins the result of our car's sheer pace, and that achievement gives us an extremely solid platform from which to develop our 2013 car over the next few months in readiness for the new season. Finally, congratulations to Sebastian and commiserations to Fernando [Alonso]. Either of them would have been a worthy world champion. But, after a grand prix as thrilling and as suspenseful as the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix, it's fair to say that the ultimate winner today was Formula 1."
Fernando Alonso (2nd): "I score this season a 10! If we had to repeat these twenty races I would change nothing done by the team or yours truly: no mistakes, no mechanical problems, zero problems at the pit stops, zero strategic mistakes. We definitely did not lose the title today, as that happened in Spa or Suzuka. We might not have finished the season with the most points, but we won many other things, like everyone's respect and fans and colleagues agree on who was the best this year. I am proud of the job I did and that was also the case last year when I finished fourth and again this time when I fought right to the very end. Today is very different to Abu Dhabi: then, there was the frustration of an opportunity missed, whereas here we did our utmost race after race. I feel happy inside: I worked day after day with the team, which pays me at the end of every month and today, they can be proud of what they've done. Once again today we did an impeccable job, finishing on the podium after starting from the fourth row, producing yet another little Sunday miracle. The team kept me constantly updated about Vettel and, towards the end, I was hoping something might happen to him or Button which would allow us to reach our goal. It didn't happen and we must accept the result delivered on the race track. What to ask from the team for 2013? That's easy, a quicker car, but most of all I'd like to see the same effort and professionalism the team displayed when it reacted to our initial difficulties. Even if maybe we didn't manage to reach the performance level of the best, everyone demonstrated total dedication. I repeat, I am happy and proud and now's the time to drink a caipirinha!"
Felipe Massa (3rd): "It was very emotional for me to jump up on the podium at my home race. I cried like a baby, thinking back to how difficult this season has been for me, disastrous at first and then very competitive in the last part. Fernando should be proud of what he has done this year: he was able to win when the car was not perfect and fought right to the end, even if his car was not a match for those of his rivals. His championship has been truly spectacular! We too must also be proud of what we have done. Today's race was very close fought and difficult and so many things happened. It was not easy to work out what was the right tire as the conditions changed so quickly. At the start, when it began to rain, we had opted to stay out on track, but we did so for too long. Then, I found myself down in eleventh, but I began to go very quickly and overtake a lot of drivers. Who knows, maybe I could even have been in the hunt for the win today...The team kept me informed all the time about what the situation was on track and on what could be useful to do in the fight for the championship: I think I did the right thing, for my team and also for my fans."
Luca di Montezemolo: "I am proud of my team. We fought all the way to the bitter end, getting both our drivers onto the podium for the final race of the season. When you miss out on the title by the smallest of margins, naturally there is some regret. I want to congratulate Fernando on what he has done this year: his season has been simply fantastic. Felipe drove very well in the second half of the season and demonstrated once again that he is a real team player. I also want to thank Stefano Domenicali and all his colleagues for the work they have done, day after day, to produce a car that, in terms of reliability, was perfect and for what they achieved on track in terms of strategy and the work in the garage. Now we must immediately concentrate on next season, because, right from the start, we must have a car that is competitive at the highest level."
Stefano Domenicali, Team Principal: "That's sport and that's how it goes. To have lost the Drivers' title twice in the last three years by the tiniest of margins hurts, it hurts a lot, I can assure you of that. I am particularly disappointed for Fernando, who like never before, really deserved to win this time. He has been extraordinary, not just in the way he has driven, nor because he simply never gave up in the first very difficult part of the season, but mainly for the human qualities he demonstrated within the team. Where did we lose those three points? Hard to say, but I just want to point out that Fernando ended where he did, having effectively only taken part in 18 of the 20 races: the few hundred meters he covered in Spa and then Suzuka lays heavy like a rock on today's outcome. Sure, we cannot ignore the fact we were unable to give him and Felipe a quicker car, especially at the start of the season: this also cost us dear and our main aim for 2013 should be precisely that of giving our drivers the equipment with which they can win immediately. We owe our drivers and we want to wipe out that debt as soon as possible. I also want to thank Felipe for not letting go after a very difficult opening part to the year: he worked very hard and if today we have finished second in the Constructors' championship, we also owe it to him. We always stuck by him, even when the outside world was calling for us to sack him and we have given him confidence for 2013. I think his results in this final part of the season have been the right response to those who doubted him. At this moment, I also want to thank everyone who has worked day and night, at the track and at Maranello to try and help us realize our dream and I am proud of all of them. Finally, I want to congratulate Sebastian, who is a great adversary. I think I can say we are leaving Brazil our heads held not just high, but very high!"
Pat Fry: "I said it in Austin a week ago: we would fight to achieve our objectives right down to the last lap and so we did. We came within a whisker of achieving our goal with Fernando, who along with Felipe managed to get to the podium after an eventful race affected by changing weather conditions. When track conditions change so much it's very difficult to pinpoint the right choice at the right moment: we think we reacted in the best possible way, trying to make the most of what we had to work with. When it began to rain, we decided to split the choices, bringing in Fernando while leaving Felipe out on track, but then his lap times were getting too slow and we switched him to the Intermediates. At that time, the leaders were able to lap very quickly even on the dry treys, which just wasn't possible for us. After that, I think we picked the right moment to switch back to the dry treys and then the wets. Right to the last we hoped something might happen to allow Fernando to take the Drivers' title which he definitely deserved. We didn't manage it and obviously we regret not having been able to give him the fastest car of the field. We will try again next year, trying to learn from the mistakes we made this year and to strengthen our good points even more, those being reliability, pit stops and strategy."
Michael Schumacher (7th): "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."
Nico Rosberg (15th): "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."
Ross Brawn, Team Principal: "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 honor 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."
Norbert Haug, Mercedes Motorsport Director: "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."
Kimi Raikkonen (10th): "It was a busy race and we didn't have the pace we wanted all the time. There was certainly a lot going on. I went off at the last corner on lap fifty-two as I couldn't see well with my visor being dirty and fogged up. Where I went off you can get back on the track by going through the support race pit lane, but you have to go through a gate. I know this as I did the same thing in 2001 and the gate was open that year. Somebody closed it this time. Next year I'll make sure it's open again."
Romain Grosjean (DNF, Accident): "I'm a little bit shaken but otherwise not too bad. Everything was nicely under control at the start of the race then it all ended very suddenly at turn eleven. It was a strange one; I could see it was raining a bit more so I was taking it even easier than on the lap before, then suddenly the car just went from underneath me and that was it. I've not had much luck this weekend and that's definitely not the way I wanted to end the season, but overall it's been a good year and hopefully there will be many better days to come."
Eric Boullier, Team Principal: "That was obviously a very dramatic race to end the season; not the one we would have expected and not really the one we would have wanted on track. The conclusion of the championship is good; fourth was our target and we've achieved that by a considerable margin. On top of that we've been fighting with the leading teams right to the end of the year. For Kimi to take third in the Drivers' Championship is a really great achievement after being away for two years and a testament not only to the car we gave him, but to the team for their support. We scored our first win with the Lotus name and achieved a good number of podiums over the year, so overall it's been a very good season. I can only thank everyone at Enstone and everyone at Renault; I'm very proud to be a part of this effort. Our progress is very promising for next year. With the continuity and stability we have I'm sure we'll be fighting for podiums again in 2013. In terms of the bigger picture, we must of course send our congratulations to Sebastian Vettel who joins the sport's greats as a triple World Champion. A mention also for the fine efforts of another former Enstone champion - Fernando Alonso - who drove superbly all season. Finally, we say a very fond farewell to another of the finest drivers around in Michael Schumacher. It's always a big thing when a multiple champion leaves the sport, and Michael has achieved great things over many years, including two Drivers' Championships for Enstone. We wish him all the very best for the future"
Alan Permane, Chief Race Engineer: "It was an incident-packed race which ended early for Romain who spun off very early in the damp conditions. Kimi had a very tricky race including a couple of spins and problems with his visor, so not the ideal day and a tough weekend overall. Looking at the season, we're happy with P3 in the Drivers' Championship for Kimi and P4 in the Constructors' Championship for the team. Our target was fourth and we've easily achieved that, but perhaps even more encouraging is that at one stage it looked as if we could challenge for third or maybe even higher. I'm sure Kimi would have rather won the championship but it was certainly a very respectable comeback."
Riccardo Penteado, Engine Support Leader: "What a hard race today, in every sense of the word. Kimi's points give him third in the championship, plus make him the only driver to finish every race this season. It also shows the ongoing durability and performance of the Viry-Enstone partnership. It's a very positive way to end what has been a very successful season, with one win and 303 points to our credit."
Nico Hulkenberg (5th): "That was a lot of fun - very entertaining and there was so much happening all the time! We had a great chance to finish on the podium today, but it slipped away, which is a shame. In the early laps it was difficult to keep the car on the track in the very damp conditions, but it was not really wet enough for intermediates and I stuck with the slicks. It was the right decision and soon I was leading the race. I felt comfortable but eventually I made a small mistake and Lewis got ahead of me. I managed to stay with him and was fighting to get the lead back when we touched. It's hard to say what happened but I was making a move going into turn one and had a slightly loose rear. I was about to turn in and suddenly there was contact. It's a shame for both of us because we were having a great battle. I managed to keep going but I had lost a lot of time. Fifth place is still a super result to end the season and I think the team did an excellent job this weekend. I hope they enjoyed the race - it's a nice leaving present in my last race."
Paul di Resta (19th): "It was a very tricky race and not easy to make the calls with the weather constantly changing. Ultimately we made the wrong decision to switch to the intermediates in the early stages because the track began to dry quite soon after my stop. The treys lost performance quickly and I went back to the slicks just before the safety car came out. That brought us back into play, but I struggled for grip at the restart and lost a few places. When we went back to the intermediates in the closing stages we were more competitive and I was up in eighth place. Unfortunately with a lap to go I aquaplaned in the final corner. It was a big hit with the wall, but I'm OK."
Robert Fernley, Deputy Team Principal: "What a race! Certainly one of the most exciting races I've seen with drama on every lap. For a while it looked like we were heading for a fairly-tale result with Nico leading for so much of the race and showing his skill in the tricky conditions. We had a great car today and had the pace to win, but it was not meant to be. I would question the deployment of the first safety car, which we believe could have been covered under waved yellows. Equally, we were surprised by the drive-through for Nico, and feel it could have been investigated after the race because there were three cars involved. With Paul we played a slightly different strategy with an early switch to the intermediate treys, as most teams did, but when the rain eased off he went back to slicks. He was looking set for points until the crash towards the end, but it's a relief to see him get out of the car OK. So we end the season on a positive note and head into the winter optimistic that we can start next year just as well. On behalf of the team I'd like to say goodbye to Nico and thank him for his contribution to our campaign this season. It has been a pleasure to have him drive our cars."
Kamui Kobayashi (9th): "I had a good start and stayed out of trouble. The beginning of the race was good. Then the track conditions became tricky with the drizzle and I had contact with Mark Webber's car. That was why we had to change the nose cone when I pitted for intermediate treys after eight laps. At my second pit stop after 18 laps I changed to hard slick treys. For some reason it was a rather long stop, but nevertheless afterwards I was in sixth again. I think we did my last pit stop one lap too late. The conditions were right for Intermediates again. However, the weather forecast apparently said something different and then we also had a problem with the front left. At the end I was much quicker than Michael (Schumacher) and tried to overtake him, but on the inside it was a lot wetter than on the racing line and I lost the rear. Overall I think it was a really good race. I was able to do my own race and fight. I am happy for the team and for myself that we have scored points in this our last race together. I want to thank Sauber for the good times we have had and now I will try to find myself a Formula One cockpit for next year."
Sergio Perez (DNF, Damage): "I really wanted to finish the season in a different way. It was a great season with three podiums and I want to thank everyone at Sauber. I wish the team all the best and will now take on my new challenge. I didn't really understand what happened after the start today. I went to the inside to avoid contact with other cars and then people crashed into me."
Monisha Kaltenborn, Team Principal: "It was a thrilling final race of the season which didn't exactly deliver the result we hoped for. Sergio was pushed out of the race on lap one through no fault of his own, and Kamui showed once again what a great fighter he is. Unfortunately we couldn't convert that into a better result. For our team the Brazilian Grand Prix marks the end of a thrilling and spectacular season. Obviously at this moment we are disappointed we didn't manage to clinch fifth place in the constructors' championship. However, when we stand back we can be proud of what we've achieved this year. We got four podiums and a total of 126 championship points. This is 82 more than last season, which is an impressive improvement. Of course we know that with a little more consistency we could have scored even more points. That's something we will be working on for next season. The race in Interlagos was also the last one with our two drivers, Kamui Kobayashi and Sergio Pérez, to whom I would like to express my sincere thanks for their great contribution. Sergio will have the chance to show his great talent at the McLaren-Mercedes team, and to Kamui we wish him all the best and that he will have a successful future in motor racing. Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for winning the world championship three times in a row."
Giampaolo Dall'Ara, Head of Track Engineering: "It was a good start for both drivers, but then Sergio was pushed out in corner four. Kamui started on the hard treys and was able to climb up the field. Then it started raining and it was a good call from the driver's side to change to intermediate treys. He was able to make up positions, and also later changing back to dry treys was well timed. He was able to match the lap times of Ferrari and Red Bull which was good. When it started raining again, everything went wrong. Kamui made a call for intermediate treys, but before we could change onto them he went off. We lost a lot of time there, and also the pit stop went wrong. Then towards the end he had an additional spin when Kamui attacked Michael. So we finally ended up in ninth."
Jean-Eric Vergne (8th): "It's good to finish eighth, however, I am not so happy with myself, because I made the decision to stay out for a long time on the dry treys and it proved not to be the right one, costing me a lap. The team gave me the opportunity to run the race as I saw best from the cockpit and I have learned a lot of valuable lessons from today. However, if the rain had stayed away it would have been a great decision! At the restart after the Safety Car came in, I was hanging back to get a run on Glock, but as I caught up, those in front were braking hard and I ran into him and I've already apologized to him for that. My pace on the slick treys in the damp conditions was very good and it's nice to finish the final race of the season in the points."
Daniel Ricciardo (13th): "The start was quite chaotic with several cars going off the track and people to avoid. I managed to make up a couple of places and my pace seemed okay. I was trying to hang on to those ahead as the conditions changed all the time. By around half race distance, we were looking in good shape, running in eighth or ninth place. More rain came after my first stop for fresh dry treys, so I had to come in again, which obviously cost me time. In simple terms, it was a case of too many pit stops."
Franz Tost, Team Principal: "First of all, on behalf of everyone at Scuderia Toro Rosso I want to congratulate Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing. Three consecutive Drivers' titles is a remarkable achievement. This Brazilian Grand Prix demonstrated what a great show Formula 1 can be, at the end of a season that was closely contested and produced many memorable moments. We too had a good day to end this long and very exciting year, as Jean-Eric Vergne finished eighth for the fourth time, bringing home four more points. The conditions were difficult to deal with as the rain came and went, making it tricky for the drivers and those on the pitwall. Both our drivers did well to stay on track under these circumstances. Jean-Eric's race was going very well until he made contact with Glock after the re-start, which cost us time but he was able to fight back, performing strongly to the checkered flag. In Daniel's case, we got a bit out of synch on the tire front, as it began to rain almost immediately after we had pitted him for fresh slicks. This dropped him out of the points zone, which is why we went for the ambitious gamble of putting him on extreme treys to try and get him back to the top ten, but the rain was not heavy enough to achieve that. Our late season improvement in form was not enough to change our ninth place in the Constructors' championship, but it is a good way to end, especially as next year's regulations are not very different to the ones we have now. Therefore lessons learned will help for 2013, when we hope to perform well throughout the season."
Pastor Maldonado (DNF, Accident): "We had an excellent start moving up several places but unfortunately I lost the rear of the car at Turn 3. It was a slippery surface and there wasn't much grip which caught us by surprise at the beginning. There wasn't much we could do so we were unlucky today."
Bruno Senna (DNF, Damage): "I had a good start and was racing well but unfortunately I had an incident when Sebastian tried to take the apex and there was nowhere to go. This is racing and sometimes these things happen. I want to take the opportunity to thank the fans who were such a big support at my home Grand Prix as it always makes a big difference.."
Mark Gillan, Chief Operations Engineer: "Both cars had excellent starts getting up into the top 10. Unfortunately Bruno got hit by Vettel who cut across him on the apex of Turn 4 on the first lap and this stopped the car. Pastor was running in eighth position at the start of the second lap having gained eight positions on the first lap, but hit the wet curb on the exit of Turn 3 which pushed him off the track and into the tire barrier prematurely ending his race."
Laurent Debout, Renault: "It was a very short and disappointing race for us. All the same one win and 76 points in our first year of working with Williams is a great start. The relationship has blossomed and the performance shown at the end of the year gives a lot of encouragement for next season. We will go back to Viry and Grove and continue in this vein, expecting to better this in 2013."
Vitaly Petrov (11th): "What an incredible race. I'm so pleased for the whole team and I want to thank every single one of them for doing such a fantastic job in the conditions today. Seeing what regaining tenth place in the championship meant to everyone when I got back to the garage was really special and I think we deserve it after all the hard work we've put in throughout the whole year. On track it was one of the hardest races I've ever been in, but also one of the best. I had a great start, passed a lot of cars and avoided all the problems in turn four, and from then I was pushing as much as I could as the conditions kept changing. We made the right calls today on the stops and every time I came in the boys were perfect. The change to inters on lap 54 is I think what made the difference today. I had a good battle with Pic until the last few laps but then got him into turn three and just pulled away. From there it was all about keeping it on track and when I heard the safety car was coming out and I knew I had one lap left to go it was such a great feeling. Now we can celebrate and everyone has earned it - all the team on track, the factory back in Leafield, our team partners and our technical partners Renault Sport F1 and Red Bull Technology."
Heikki Kovalainen (14th): "I'm really pleased for the team today and delighted that we've secured tenth place in the championship after a pretty intense race. It was one of those afternoons when anything could have happened and I think it was down to really good work right across the whole team that got us to where we finished today. My race was pretty interesting. I had an ok start and missed the problems on lap one but when we brought both cars in for the second stop there was an issue with my right rear that cost a lot of time and from that point I was playing catch up with the cars ahead. We went onto full wets on the last stop to cover the chance of the rain increasing but there was very little grip until the last couple of laps on that set. Despite that it was all about the final result and it came good right when it mattered."
Cyril Abiteboul, Team Principal:
Pedro de la Rosa (17th): "It's been a great race and I enjoyed driving very much. You never knew what to expect as conditions were changing every lap. You had to keep focused as it was easy to make mistakes and we pulled it out quite well. It's certainly been one of the most enjoyable races of my career. We have done a good job overall and I am quite happy with the outcome. We wanted to finish on a good note and I think we did. I also want to congratulate Vettel on his third title. And finally thank the team for their tireless work and commitment and also our sponsors and fans that have supported and pushed us from the beginning to the end of this amazing season."
Narain Karthikeyan (18th): "It has certainly been one of the most difficult races of the season given the changing weather and track conditions. But I am very satisfied with how we all dealt with it and the way we drove. It was a bit of a gamble as weather conditions kept on changing during the whole race and it was easy to loose tire temperature or overuse them when the track was drying out. But we managed the situation well and got both cars across the finish line, which is a positive way to finish the season. I want to thank the whole team for the work they've done all year and I am very proud to be part of this team."
Luis Perez-Sala, Team Principal: "What an amazing and difficult race! The changing conditions made it quite challenging out there and both drivers stayed fully focused from the beginning to the end and put in a fantastic performance. The work that all mechanics and engineers did in the garage was also very good and both cars got to the checkered flag, which is the best way to finish this long, tough but rewarding season. I am really proud of every single team member, without whom this season wouldn't have been possible. But also thank our sponsors, partners and fans alike for their continuous support."
Charles Pic (12th): "Although the outcome is disappointing, I think today was one of my best races for the Team. Our strategy was the right one and I pushed very hard the whole race. The conditions were not easy; it was very slippery but the car was quite well-balanced and we put up the best possible fight. In the end, we just lost out unfortunately. My thanks to everyone in the Team for a fantastic debut season in F1. We have fought so hard all year and I wish the Team the very best next season."
Timo Glock (16th): "There isn't much we can say really; the result speaks for itself and we were just not lucky today. It is a crying shame for everyone associated with the Team as we have all worked so hard together to come this far. It's so sad to lose 10th like this because we were right on it and we had everything lined up to stay ahead of the other guys. Unfortunately, Vergne crashed into the back of my car and destroyed the race for me because it was right at the restart and I had to pit under the green flag. I went straight to the back of the field and worked hard from there, but there was very little we could do. Further up of course, it just shows how it can all turn on a knife-edge in these conditions. I think it is important to look back at the whole picture because 10th place is lost but no one can take away from us what we have built at this team. We have to stay as strong and motivated as possible and get over this quickly because we have shown everyone what we can achieve when luck is not a factor. Next year with KERS we will be even better. My thanks to my car crew and the whole team, who are all feeling so very disappointed right now. We will be back for sure. Finally, congratulations to Sebastian (Vettel) for winning the Championship and my best wishes to Michael (Schumacher) for the future."
John Booth, Team Principal: "Today is an emotional day for everyone involved with the Marussia F1 Team. 10th place has eluded us after such a long fight and, naturally, 'disappointed' doesn't even come close. We made all the right calls and our strategy worked out perfectly, but in the end we lost out due to factors beyond our control. As everyone knows, we had a tough start to the year and we were unable to complete very much at all in the way of pre-season testing. Notwithstanding a difficult debut for the MR01, we were able to hold on to 10th place in the Constructors' Championship for the first five races, before it slipped from our grasp in Monaco. By the mid-point of the season, we had caught up with ourselves in terms of our development strategy and the upgrades we introduced at Silverstone were the first iteration of wind tunnel-tested components with the MR01. We never really looked back from that point and with each new race we were making steps forward - large and small. Much has been made of closing the gap to Caterham, but at the same time we have reduced the delta to the mid-field and the front of the field. For example, in Australia the gap between our own fastest lap and the winner's fastest lap was 4.5%, whilst in the closing stages of the season we have reduced that to 2.5% - again, without KERS. So if we reflect on our big picture, it is even more encouraging than may have been apparent. I would like to thank the whole team back at base and trackside, including our engine supplier Cosworth, for a huge push. The same must be said of our drivers Timo and Charles; Charles of course we say goodbye to today. Our sincere appreciation also to our Partners, Investors and Suppliers for sharing the journey this season. Here's to 2013, the advantage of KERS and some very encouraging signs that things can only get better for us."
Fastest lap: Hamilton, 1:18.069
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