Sebastian Vettel might be waking up on Monday as a triple world champion, but he'll know all too well that the season could have ended very differently for him during the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix
in Sao Paulo.
"I think everything that could go wrong went wrong," said Vettel. "Just look at the stuff that went wrong. It's hard enough if you lose radio communication for a start in these circumstances, because if there are any circumstances where you really need to talk, it's these.
"Then we got turned around, the car was damaged since lap one, we were dead last, we came again; we came back, changeable conditions all the time, we did a stop for nothing which cost 20-22 seconds and had to come in again when it started to rain the lap after. But still we finished sixth."
Just seconds after the start of the race at Interlagos, he had run into Bruno Senna and was spun 180 degrees at turn 4 with serious damage to the Red Bull's sidepod and underfloor. It could have been the end of the day for him, and the end of his championship hopes right there and then.
"I got the hit in turn 4 for no reason. I don't know what happened," said Vettel, talking of that heart-stopping moment. "[Senna] was probably fighting someone into turn four. It was drizzling since the start of the formation lap and it was quite slippery in turn four, we knew that. Maybe he forgot ... I was the car that he used to stop himself. They didn't help us."
That left the Red Bull
facing the wrong way into oncoming traffic, and Vettel fearing a second impact at any moment that would have ended his day for good.
"I had a lot of cars coming and I was in the wrong way. I went off the brakes, because obviously everyone was going in this direction and to join them, I tried to roll down hill and avoid cars driving backwards and we kept the car damage to a limit."
After escaping any further collisions, Vettel managed to get underway again. He proceeded to nurse the wounded car around another 70 laps to get to the finish in sixth place despite clearly struggling for pace at times.
"Obviously we could see in the dry conditions later on that the pace wasn't there," he admitted. "I was obviously slow down the straights, which made it very easy for others to pass us and very difficult for us to pass someone.