Mark Webber ended the perfect season for Red Bull Racing with victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix.
It has been a long time coming for the Australian considering the ultra success of his team-mate Sebastian Vettel. To take his first win in the season finale is much of a relief and a good way to sign off the year.
For Sebastian Vettel, the double world champion had to nurse his car following a gearbox issue. The young German did a great job in making it to the chequered flag and taking second position is quite impressive considering the circumstance.
As for Jenson Button, the McLaren driver secured the runner-up spot in the championship with third.
The pace of the Red Bulls at Interlagos was immense, with Vettel holding the lead at the start. Team-mate Webber was able to fend off the others for P2 despite a slightly slower getaway off the grid.
Vettel soon opened up a stable three-second gap to Webber, as the Red Bull duo left the rest in their wake at a rate of around a second per lap.
But from the early laps Vettel was receiving radio messages warning him to short-shift second and third gear to nurse a developing gearbox problem, and as the warnings became more urgent, his pace slowed enough for Webber to sweep past and into the lead on lap 29.
With Webber as the new leader, the Australian took advantage and went on to take his first win since last year’s Hungarian Grand Prix. As for Vettel, he had enough pace to hang on for second position.
He was helped by McLaren’s Jenson Button and Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso battling over third spot. Alonso passed Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren at the start, and then claimed P3 from Button with a spectacular move around the outside at Ferradura on lap 11.
Alonso then pulled away, only to lose pace on the harder Prime tyre in his final stint, allowing Button to catch and re-pass him nine laps from the flag with an easy DRS manoeuvre.
Hamilton was set to battle with Felipe Massa for fifth – with the Brazilian pitting twice while the others adopted the three pit-stop strategy – until a gearbox failure halted the McLaren, ensuring the Ferrari could keep the track position.
Adrian Sutil claimed sixth place after an entertaining battle with Nico Rosberg. He passed the Mercedes driver heading into the Senna S only to be out-done on the brakes by Rosberg and fall back behind.
Sutil tried again on the next lap and this time squeezed Rosberg towards the inside of the corner to be sure of taking the place.
Behind them came Paul di Resta, coping with KERS and gearbox problems, cementing Force India’s sixth place in the championship. They ended the year just four points behind Renault with Vitaly Petrov taking tenth at the flag.
His Renault team-mate Bruno Senna clashed with Michael Schumacher at the Senna S early on, giving the Mercedes a left-rear puncture. The race stewards handed out Senna a drive-through penalty for the collision and with gearbox troubles also developing, he fell to P17, while Schumacher got back to P15.
Rubens Barrichello was unable to score in what could be his final Grand Prix appearance. A poor start dropped the Williams to P21 but he was able to recover to P14.
So a great season finale in Brazil. The threat of rain never made an appearance despite different weather forecasts but after waiting all year, Mark Webber took the dominant RB7 to his seventh career victory.
The Australian recorded the fastest lap on the final lap of the Brazilian Grand Prix. The closest non-Red Bull finisher was almost half a minute behind.
Despite his gearbox problem, Sebastian Vettel ended up almost 17 seconds behind his team-mate, and over ten clear of Jenson Button.
It served only to underline the dominance of Red Bull throughout the season, and particularly in the second half. Their rivals have much to do in the next two months before testing for the 2012 season resumes.
Brazilian Grand Prix race results, 71 laps:
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1h32:17.434
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault +16.983
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes +27.638
4. Alonso Ferrari +35.048
5. Massa Ferrari +1:06.733
6. Sutil Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
7. Rosberg Mercedes +1 lap
8. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes +1 lap
9. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
10. Petrov Renault +1 lap
11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
12. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari +1 lap
13. Perez Sauber-Ferrari +1 lap
14. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth +1 lap
15. Schumacher Mercedes +1 lap
16. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault +2 laps
17. Senna Renault +2 laps
18. Trulli Lotus-Renault +2 laps
19. D’Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth +3 laps
20. Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth +3 laps
Fastest lap: Webber, 1:15.324
Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 62 laps
Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 37 laps
Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 27 laps
Glock Virgin-Cosworth 22 laps
World Championship standings, round 19:
1. Vettel 392
2. Button 270
3. Webber 258
4. Alonso 257
5. Hamilton 227
6. Massa 118
7. Rosberg 89
8. Schumacher 76
9. Sutil 42
10. Petrov 37
11. Heidfeld 34
12. Kobayashi 30
13. Di Resta 27
14. Alguersuari 26
15. Buemi 15
16. Perez 14
17. Barrichello 4
18. Senna 2
19. Maldonado 1
1. Red Bull-Renault 650
2. McLaren-Mercedes 497
3. Ferrari 375
4. Mercedes 165
5. Renault 73
6. Force India-Mercedes 69
7. Sauber-Ferrari 44
8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 41
9. Williams-Cosworth 5