The circuit at Interlagos never fails to disappoint. If you have a Formula One championship going down to the wire, what better place to end the season than in a place which seems, like Spa, to have its own micro-climate, where it can, and frequently does, tip it down at a moment’ notice. Who can forget Kimi Raikonnen snatching the title from Lewis Hamilton in 2007 and then the next year Hamilton snatched it from Felipe Massa on the last corner.? In 2009, Brawn GP cemented their Constructors’ Championship and the world title for Jenson Button after a bit of fairytale year.
So, last week the F1 circus hit town for climax to the season. If Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso could win the race with Sebastian Vettel coming fourth or less, the title would be his. It was a long shot, but if anyone could pull it off, it would be him.
Neither championship contender qualified particularly well, but a first lap spin, encouraged by a good whack on the left side which left visible damage, let Vettel in last place while Alonso had a stonkingly good start, pushing his way up to 4th, then 3rd, which would have been enough.
That was all before the heavens opened. By the time the first lot of tyre changes, to intermediates had happened, Vettel had driven his way from last to 6th, which would have been enough to win the world title. The championship undulated between the two of them for the whole race.
One highlight was that Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg led the race for a good stint in the middle before being overtaken by Lewis Hamilton. When he tried to re-take the lead, both spun off. The German managed to get going again, but Hamilton’s race was over.
Alonso never stopped fighting. The only place handed to him on a plate was when Massa let him pass, but Vettel had a similar courtesy from his mentor Schumacher in his last race. By the last few laps, all Tifosi hopes rested on Jenson Button doing something silly in the rain. As we saw in Montreal in 2011, Jenson doesn’t do silly stuff in the rain; he brings the car home.
It’s impossible not to like Sebastian Vettel, or to grudge him his 3rd championship. He has the best car, though. Alonso managed to take a vastly inferior specimen within 3 points of the world title.That shows a fantastic talent. My feelings towards the Spaniard have mellowed over time. I wasn’t much enamoured by his early rivalry with Schumacher, and then Alonso behaved like a total tube during his brief stay at McLaren. He and Kimi are probably the best drivers on the grid, though.
Here are my breathless tweets from yesterday. I could talk about this all day, but that train to London won’t wait for me.
My hopes for next season – a scrap for the title between Alonso, Kimi, Webber and Jenson, and a place in next year’s Strictly Come Dancing for Michael Schumacher. I’m missing this season already. Roll on Melbourne which, inconveniently, falls on the weekend of Scottish Liberal Democrat conference.