27 November 2013
Brazilian Grand Prix: David Tremayne: Nine up for the champion
Three time Guild of Motoring Writers Journalist of the Year Award winner David Tremayne casts his eye back over the F1 season finale at Interlagos...
In his latest exclusive feature on Crash.net, David Tremayne - three time Guild of Motoring Writers Journalist of the Year Award winner and multi-award winning F1 author - takes a look back over the final race of the 2013 F1 season at Interlagos...
Sebastian Vettel duly achieved his record-breaking 13th grand prix in a season in Brazil, and along the way equalled Alberto Ascari's feat of nine wins in a row that dated back almost to the beginning of the official World Championship.
But where the great Italian double champion had taken the 1952 and '53 seasons, Vettel did it in a single year. And, it goes without saying, he did it in style.
He took pole position, of course, by a margin, which was pretty impressive since Nico Rosberg had been fastest in both of Friday's rain-spoiled practice sessions, and team-mate Mark Webber in the third, and because he did it from Rosberg by a whopping half second.
The Mercedes driver had high hopes if the race was wet, but at the start it wasn't. He got a better getaway and as team-mate Lewis Hamilton boiled up from fifth on the grid Vettel nearly found himself third; but by the end of the opening lap he used KERS to outdrag Rosberg over the finish line, and that was all she wrote. Off he went, and nobody saw which way even when it drizzled for much of the second half.
Webber, meanwhile, in his final race, dropped to fifth, headed by Vettel, Rosberg, third fastest qualifier Fernando Alonso and Hamilton. Rosberg soon faded, his Mercedes eating its rear tyres early, and as Hamilton conserved his in fourth place, Alonso in third was clearly no match for the Red Bulls. But as usual the early delays had left Webber on his back foot and by the time the second pits stops were due he was 13s behind Vettel and never likely to make that up.
He got a lifeline on the 47th lap, however, when Vettel pitted during a melee involving Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas the lap before and, amazingly, Red Bull's superfast crew weren't ready for him, but Webber was also momentarily stacked and only halved the gap after Vettel's hiatus.
For a while he kept his team-mate honest with a strong charge, but by the flag his 215th and final race ended with him 10.4s adrift and, for the first season since 2009, not a grand prix winner.
Alonso had snuck back into second during that disastrous Red Bull stop, but Webber repassed him with ease on lap 48. But third was a fillip for Ferrari even if it wasn't sufficient, with Felipe Massa only able to muster seventh on his final outing for Ferrari, to challenge Mercedes' second place overall. Massa was a feisty fourth ahead of Hamilton after the first stops, but was later given a drive-through for crossing the white line before the pit entry.
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