Jean-Eric Vergne picked his way through the chaos to take a well-deserved eighth place for Toro Rosso in a dramatic season finale at Interlagos.
The young Frenchman made sure his rookie year ended on a high after a strong fight-back from a lap down, aided by the first appearance of the safety car.
It was Vergne's first time racing at Interlagos- though he did drive the Brazilian track in free practice at the end of 2011- and the 22-year-old coped well with the twin demands of a tight and twisty track and the typically unpredictable Brazilian weather.
His four points for eighth ensured he finished F1 2012 as Toro Rosso's number one, at least as far as the Championship is concerned, however he appeared more relieved than anything else in the aftermath.
“It's good to finish eighth, however, I am not so happy with myself, because I made the decision to stay out for a long time on the dry tyres and it proved not to be the right one, costing me a lap," he said. "The team gave me the opportunity to run the race as I saw best from the cockpit and I have learned a lot of valuable lessons from today.
“If the rain had stayed away it would have been a great decision! At the restart after the Safety Car came in, I was hanging back to get a run on Glock, but as I caught up, those in front were braking hard and I ran into him, I've already apologised to him for that. My pace on the slick tyres in the damp conditions was very good and it's nice to finish the final race of the season in the points.”
Vergne's team-mate Daniel Ricciardo had the opposite experience, running strongly early on before slipping down the field as the race wore on, a slide which included a minor collision with Vergne.
The young Australian appeared rueful after the race, but in typically laid-back fashion was able to put the result into perspective.
“The start was quite chaotic with several cars going off the track and people to avoid," he said. "I managed to make up a couple of places and my pace seemed okay. I was trying to hang on to those ahead as the conditions changed all the time.
“By around half race distance, we were looking in good shape, running in eighth or ninth place. More rain came after my first stop for fresh dry tyres, so I had to come in again, which obviously cost me time. In simple terms, it was a case of too many pit stops.”
by Philip Barclay