November 23rd, 2013 (F1Plus / Chris Cameron-Dow) - Sebastian Vettel led every lap on the way to victory at Interlagos in Brazil. Mark Webber finished second to complete a Red Bull one-two in his final race in Formula One. Fernando Alonso finished third for Ferrari, returning to the podium for the first time since the Singapore Grand Prix in September.
The track was dry at the beginning of the race, which made the start something of a challenge as the drivers had not run on slick tyres at all during practice or qualifying. Sebastian Vettel struggled to get off the line, and lost position to Nico Rosberg before the first corner. Lewis Hamitlon made a strong start to run third on the opening lap, passing Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber off the line.
Vettel did not take long to get the lead back from Rosberg. Approaching the end of the first lap, he had a good run on Rosberg and pulled out to pass him round the outside as they made their way to the start-finish line. Vettel was marginally ahead over the line and completed the move round the outside into turn 1. Fernando Alonso managed to pass Lewis Hamilton for third place with a similar move on the same lap.
In the manner that has now become familiar to fans of Formula One, Vettel then streaked off into the lead, taking advantage of the fact that those behind him were fighting for position and therefore holding each other up a bit.
But Vettel's race did not go entirely to plan. At his second pit stop, it seemed that the team had not had much time to prepare for the arrival of Vettel's car, which meant not all of the tyres were ready for him. A 13 second pit stop, which must have seemed like eternity to Vettel, was the result and greatly reduced Vettel's lead over Mark Webber, who was second at the time.
Nonetheless, Vettel was able to maintain and even stretch out his lead again after that tough pit stop. To the relief of Red Bull, the rain that had been forecast and seemed imminent throughout the race ultimately did not arrive, although there were spots of rain at various points in the race. Vettel was therefore able to hold on for a reasonably comfortable victory without having to negotiate wet conditions and the inevitable confusion such conditions frequently bring.
Mark Webber had a slightly slow start, losing a place to Lewis Hamilton at the start. But Webber was able to fight his way back through the field to finish second in his final race in Formula One.
Webber's race contained good battles with Fernando Alonso, Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton. As a result of Webber having a slow first pit stop, Webber emerged from the pits behind Alonso, whom Webber had already passed on the track. Undeterred, Webber simply passed Alonso again into turn 1 a couple of laps later.
When Vettel had his disastrously slow second pit stop, Webber pitted on the same lap, which delayed him a bit but not enough to lose position to Alonso. Webber attempted to chase Vettel down for the lead, and the two drivers traded lap times for a while but ultimately Webber did not have the pace to challenge for victory and had to settle for a strong second place.
Jenson Button finished fourth for McLaren, his and the team's best result of what has been a difficult season. Button had to work for his position, and made some aggressive and opportunistic passing moves on the way to his fourth place.
Nico Rosberg, who had led most of the opening lap, finished fifth for Mercedes. He had some entertaining battles with Fernando Alonso and Mark Webber and held off a challenge from Sergio Perez late in the race to secure his fifth place. Perez, for his part, finished sixth in a very strong double points finish for McLaren. He has now finished his short time with the McLaren team, and with no announcement yet made about his 2014 plans, it is not certain that he will be on the Formula One grid next year.
Felipe Massa finished seventh in a race of frustration for the Brazilian in his last weekend as a Ferrari driver. He was running fourth in the early part of the race, looking like he could possibly challenge for a podium. But after repeated warnings for cutting the white line at the pit entry, he was handed a drive-through penalty by the stewards.
Massa was understandably upset and indignant on the radio when he was told to drive through the pits by his team. It's the first time such a penalty has been issued in Brazil, where the drivers routinely cross the pit entry line as it starts on the racing line. Massa served his penalty and then fought his way up to seventh place by the end of the race.
Nico Hulkenberg finished eighth for Sauber. Hulkenberg has had a string of good points finishes in the second half of the season and has generally impressed with his quick and mature driving. Rumours currently link him to a drive at Force India for 2014, although nothing is yet confirmed.
Lewis Hamilton was another driver to get a penalty he did not feel he deserved. He was involved in a collision with Valtteri Bottas that put Bottas out of the race and punctured Hamilton's right-rear tyre. Bottas tried to pass Hamilton on the outside on the approach to turn 4. While the two drivers were alongside each other, Bottas's left-rear tyre touched Hamilton's right rear.
The contact destroyed Bottas's tyre and broke his left-rear suspension, pitching him into a spin and out of the race. Hamilton's tyre was punctured and delaminated on the exit of turn 4, leaving him with a long drive back to the pits. Television footage showed replays of the contact, but it did not look like anyone was particularly to blame. At the point of contact, Bottas still had space on the track, and although Hamilton moved slightly to the right on the approach to the corner, he did not seem to crowd Bottas particularly.
Hamilton nonetheless receieved a drive-through penalty as the stewards decided he had caused the collision, and after serving his penalty Hamilton set about getting back into the points, which he did by the end of the race. As a result of his and Rosberg's points finishes in this race, Mercedes have secured second place int he Constructors' Championship.
Daniel Ricciardo finished tenth, scoring a point in his final race for Toro Rosso. In 2014, he will join Red Bull to replace Mark Webber, who moves on to race for Porsche in the World Endurance Championship.
Lotus, who had been hoping to challenge for second place in the Constructors' Championship in this race, went away from the Grand Prix with no points. Romain Grosjean was in the mix at the start of the race, but in the opening laps his engine blew in a great white plume of smoke. Heikki Kovalainen made a very poor start from 11th on the grid and ran 18th in the early laps of the race. He was involved in a number of battles during the race, but did not have the performance to reach the points. He finished 14th.
Vettel's Brazilian Grand Prix victory is his 13th of the season, which equals the record set by Michael Schumacher in 2004. This win is also Vettel's ninth in a row, which equals the record set by Alberto Ascar in the 1952-53 seasons. Vettel also broke his own record for most consecutive wins inside a season. He broke the record of seven previously held by Schumacher at the last race in the USA, and extended that record again this weekend.
Full results from the Brazilian Grand Prix:
|1||1||Sebastian Vettel||Red Bull Racing-Renault||71||Winner||1||25|
|2||2||Mark Webber||Red Bull Racing-Renault||71||+10.4 secs||4||18|
|3||3||Fernando Alonso||Ferrari||71||+18.9 secs||3||15|
|4||5||Jenson Button||McLaren-Mercedes||71||+37.3 secs||14||12|
|5||9||Nico Rosberg||Mercedes||71||+39.0 secs||2||10|
|6||6||Sergio Perez||McLaren-Mercedes||71||+44.0 secs||19||8|
|7||4||Felipe Massa||Ferrari||71||+49.1 secs||9||6|
|8||11||Nico Hulkenberg||Sauber-Ferrari||71||+64.2 secs||10||4|
|9||10||Lewis Hamilton||Mercedes||71||+72.9 secs||5||2|
|10||19||Daniel Ricciardo||STR-Ferrari||70||+1 Lap||7||1|
|11||14||Paul di Resta||Force India-Mercedes||70||+1 Lap||12|
|12||12||Esteban Gutierrez||Sauber-Ferrari||70||+1 Lap||17|
|13||15||Adrian Sutil||Force India-Mercedes||70||+1 Lap||15|
|14||7||Heikki Kovalainen||Lotus-Renault||70||+1 Lap||11|
|15||18||Jean-Eric Vergne||STR-Ferrari||70||+1 Lap||8|
|16||16||Pastor Maldonado||Williams-Renault||70||+1 Lap||16|
|17||22||Jules Bianchi||Marussia-Cosworth||69||+2 Laps||21|
|18||21||Giedo van der Garde||Caterham-Renault||69||+2 Laps||20|
|19||23||Max Chilton||Marussia-Cosworth||69||+2 Laps||22|