Sebastian Vettel may have been victorious for the ninth straight time at Interlagos this past Sunday but the fans were left happy as the fabled Brazilian circuit produced another brilliant finale.
Mark Webber claimed an emotional second position in his final race taking off his helmet on the slow-down lap “to feel the wind in his hair”, while Fernando Alonso cemented his place as best-of-the-rest taking third for Ferrari.
Looking back at the race there is certainly one area Red Bull need to look at if they are to maintain their place at the head of the field, the start was again very poor for both Vettel and Webber both Mercedes and Alonso were much faster off the line and Vettel was lucky to only be second into the first turn as Lewis Hamilton blocked off Alonso into the Senna S.
Certainly it has been a trait of the Red Bull for much of the season with Mark Webber the worst starter on the grid in 2013, with the possibility of other cars able to match the Red Bull for first lap pace in 2014, certainly the engineers and Renault need to ensure the RB10 has better launches next year.
Despite the poor start Vettel was again able to take advantage of his car’s incredible pace on the opening laps as the top speed of his Red Bull was more than enough to breeze past Nico Rosberg heading into turn 1 on lap two.
From there the German would pull away as Rosberg dropped down the field from first to sixth by lap 15, after being passed by both Red Bull’s, both Ferrari’s and Lewis Hamilton so easily and so quickly certainly some questions do need to be asked even if DRS was proving particularly effective.
Without any dry running prior to the race the big question was always going to be how long the tyres lasted – especially on a circuit with no rubber laid down at all.
As it was most were able to run into the 20-25 lap range on the medium compound with graining only a minor issue for most, instead it was simply the drivers hunger for one last good result that made for such an entertaining race on a circuit that does allow for overtaking.
McLaren exploited this the most as their skinnier wings may have made them very slow in the wet qualifying, but certainly proved very useful in the race.
It was the race of the year for them as they took advantage of penalties up front and both Jenson Button and Sergio Perez produced some brilliant overtakes as the the Briton moved up from fourteenth to fourth and Checo signed off his McLaren career with a best-of-the-race nineteenth to sixth.
As I mentioned, the McLaren’s were able to take advantage of two highly controversial drive-through penalties handed out during the race.
Felipe Massa was the victim of an issue that has been raised a lot on recent races, that of track limits, the Brazilian crossed the hatched markings indicating the entry of the pit-lane on three occasions, after receiving warnings I’m afraid, despite his anger post-race, he really can’t have too many complaints.
The time gained is minimal, however, there has to be a limit of just how much a driver can cut off that final kink onto the pit straight and if he had been warned and chosen to ignore those warnings then he had to pay the price.
As for Lewis Hamilton’s collision with Valtteri Bottas again it’s an issue of limits, the Briton was allowing Bottas through to unlap himself and rather than ease the Finn through, Hamilton came back across the track, not leaving enough room on the outside causing he and the Williams to make contact.
It was a needless collision for Hamilton who simply should have let Bottas go before the corner but he was in the wrong for causing the incident which led to the Finn’s retirement.
A performance of note has to go to Daniel Ricciardo, the Australian makes the big step up to Red Bull next year and produced a gutsy drive to take tenth.
The Toro Rosso has not been on the pace for quite a few races, you only have to look at Jean-Eric Vergne’s race to see that, indeed the STR8 has been very hard on the tyres as the first stint of Ricciardo shows only lasting 15 laps, however, his second stint saw him complete 28 laps on the hards and climb back up to tenth, he was able to hold that place through to the end.
Overall though the race belonged to Sebastian Vettel and despite the ups and downs with the weather and the confusion in the pitlane at his second stop, he was untroubled en route to his thirteenth win of the year.
Webber and Alonso produced good early moves on Rosberg and then the Australian produced two identical overtakes on the Spaniard to confirm his second place, he was clearly delighted on the podium indeed becoming the first driver I can remember to fall over while spraying the champagne - a brilliant moment and a great way to sign off a successful career.
An entertaining race with many talking points but overall the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix followed the rest of the year in being the Sebastian Vettel show.
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