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F1 2012

Jenson Button & McLaren Mercedes win Brazilian GP but Sebastian Vettel scores 2012 driver's crown

Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button won the 2012 Brazilian Formula 1 race, while Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso finished in 2nd place and his Brazilian teammate Felipe Massa took last slot on the podium.

German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel may have finished only in sixth position in an amazing Brazilian race, as Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button headed the Ferraris of title rival Fernando Alonso and Felipe Massa to the finish flag of the last race of the amazing 2012 season. However, it must be mentioned here, that the sixth place scored by Sebastian Vettel was enough to make him the first triple world champion since Michael Schumacher.

Light rain made the start a slippery thing, as Sebastian Vettel was spun 180 degrees in Turn Four through a hit by Bruno Senna’s Williams, which then took out the Sauber of Sergio Perez.

2008 Formula 1 World Champion and Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton led his team mate and 2009 Formula 1 World Champion Jenson Button in the early stages as Brazilian Formula 1 driver Felipe Massa slipped through to snatch third place starting from P5 and then handed the place to title contender and team mate Fernando Alonso on the fifth lap.

As soon as the conditions were bad enough, some of the drivers considered switching their slicks for Pirelli intermediate tires.

Jenson Button began to put his team mate Lewis Hamilton under pressure. When Spanish Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso ran wide in Turn One, Nico Hulkenberg inherited third place in his Force India. Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button led the sixth lap by a slight advantage from his team mate Lewis Hamilton, who quickly repassed, but by lap eight Jenson Button was back in charge. On the tenth lap Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton pitted, together with Scuderia Ferrari driver Fernando Alonso and German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel for a set of intermediate tires.

As confusion reigned in the pits, Jenson Button and Nico Hulkenberg - both still on slicks - pulled out a 40s lead, and on the 18th lap the German moved ahead. But their advantage was eliminated by a safety-car phase between laps 23 and 29 to clear away debris, handing their pursuers a chance to keep up with the race leaders.

On the restart, which took place on lap 30, Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg pulled away. At the same time, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button, who had grained his front tires, was repassed by team mate Lewis Hamilton. The latter then decided to overtake Nico Hulkenberg and snatched the lead on the 48th lap when the Force India slided sideways. The conditions were beginning to become worse with more rain, however, and as the two leaders come across Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen on the 54th lap-rejoining after a spin- and lapped Heikki Kovalainen and Timo Glock, Force India driver Nico Hulkenberg exploited the opportunity to dive inside of Vodafone McLaren Lewis Hamilton as they crossed the line to start the 55th lap.

As overtaking in Formula 1 is a very delicate, supposedly smooth and swift process, which must be well-calculated and taking place with accuracy to the centimeter. Lewis Hamilton, who was enduring a persistent streak of bad luck, could not believe what happened to him after Nico Hulkenberg decided to grab the overtaking opportunity.

Unfortunately the German Force India driver spun under braking for the Senna S, and hit Lewis Hamilton’s left-front wheel. The Briton’s last race for Vodafone McLaren Mercedes thus ended badly instead of ending it with a farewell gift in form of a hard-earned victory. Jenson Button resumed the lead as Nico Hulkenberg dropped back after being awarded a well-deserved drive-through penalty for the incident.

There was more drama to come. German Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel pitted for medium tires on the 52nd lap then came back in on the 54th for intermediates, but the second time around the tire warmer on the new right-front wheel proved unwilling to come off, costing him precious time.

With 11 laps to go Vodafone McLaren Mercedes driver Jenson Button was 16s ahead of Brazilian local hero Felipe Massa, who had driven a brave race in which he helped title contender and team mate Fernando Alonso at every possible chance. He duly handed his second place to the Spaniard on the 62nd lap, as Sebastian Vettel worked his way up to sixth behind team mate Mark Webber, who had lost time earlier with a half spin, and Nico Hulkenberg.

As Sebastian Vettel subsequently overtook 7 times Formula 1 World Champion Michael Schumacher on the 64th lap, the point's situation became 281 to 278. There was to be no marvel for Ferrari, after all. Sebastian Vettel was the triple consecutive world champion.

But there was one more drama to be played out. It came when Paul di Resta crashed his Force India heavily in the final sector on the 69th lap, bringing the safety car out for a final time. Paul Di Resta was okay, and as the safety car pulled in again before the 71st lap was over, in accord with the rules, the field crossed the line for the last time under the yellow flags.

Jenson Button was delighted with the victory, while Fernando Alonso was philosophical in a hard to digest defeat and Felipe Massa emotional on his home ground in another race in which he could have easily outpaced his team leader.

The Scuderia Ferrari thus stayed ahead of Vodafone McLaren Mercedes for the 2nd place slot in the constructors’ championship. Mark Webber was lucky to be fourth after his adventures, as was Nico Hulkenberg with his fifth place. Sebastian Vettel grinned from ear to ear, no longer appearing annoyed that his damaged Red Bull had been bog slow in a straight line.

Behind Michael Schumacher, seventh on his 306th and final Formula 1 Grand Prix, Jean-Eric Vergne drove a great race to take eighth for Toro Rosso as Kamui Kobayashi’s race yielded Sauber ninth ahead of Lotus driver Raikkonen, who never recovered from the off in Turn 12 where he had much trouble getting back on to the track after a trip up the escape road.

Eleventh was the subject of a massive match between Caterham and Marussia. In the end Vitaly Petrov compensated for a spin while fighting with Charles Pic to catch and repass the Frenchman. That one move was worth 10th in the constructors’ standings to Tony Fernandes’ team, as they moved back ahead of Marussia.

Daniel Ricciardo was 13th after a late tire stop in his Toro Rosso, but was comfortably ahead of the fight for 14th between Caterham driver Heikki Kovalainen, Nico Rosberg who had an appalling day in his Mercedes, and Marussia driver Timo Glock.

Heikki Kovalainen's late pass on both cars was the icing on the cake for the Caterham team. Pedro de la Rosa headed Narain Karthikeyan home in the HRTs, and Di Resta was classified 19th as Lewis Hamilton, Bruno Senna and Sergio Perez were joined on the retirement list by Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado who also spun out.

Sao Paulo - Cairo - Abu Dhabi

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