Mark Webber finally ended his winless streak for the season by taking the chequered flag at the last race – the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos in Sao Paolo. He was followed home by teammate Sebastian Vettel in a Red Bull one-two – their fourth of the season and first time with Webber in front. Jenson Button capped off a fine season by finishing third and this consolidating his second-place finish in the Drivers’ Championship Standings.
Fernando Alonso drove a valiant race but could only manage fourth place as tyre degradation and a DRS-failure allowed Button to pass him during the closing stages of the race. Felipe Massa finished fifth in his home grand prix, with Adrian Sutil sixth, Nico Rosberg seventh and Paul Di Resta eighth. Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov took the last points places in ninth and tenth respectively. McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton had to retire due to a gearbox problem.
Some might argue that Webber was only handed the win due to a gearbox problem for pole-sitter Vettel, who had no 2nd gear and had to nurse his car using short shifts – which allowed Webber to take the lead – but still had enough pace to keep him out of the clutches of Button/Alonso behind him. Alonso might have had the third place after a good start saw him overtake Hamilton into the first corner and then pass Button on lap eleven, but Button clawed back the position towards the fag end of the race as the Ferrari’s tyre degradation made it tough for the Spaniard to hold fort.
It was a disappointing end of the season for Lewis Hamilton as well, who retired on lap sixty eight due to a gearbox failure. He was having a good battle with (who else!) Felipe Massa for fifth place and even after the second round of pit stops found himself behind the Ferrari and was lining up a DRS move before having to retire. Another driver who had a disappointing race was Michael Schumacher, who suffered a left-rear puncture as he closed the door on Bruno Senna’s Renault – a move which incredulously saw the Renault driver get a drive-thru penalty – and could only finish fifteenth.
Sebastian Vettel set a new record of 15 pole positions in a single season as he set the fastest time for the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos in the last Qualifying Session of the season. Despite insisting that the record was not in his thoughts, it surely would have felt good for the Champion driver – if only as something to aim for having wrapped up the title sometime earlier! Red Bull locked out the front row of the grid for the seventh time this year as Mark Webber was second fastest, ahead of the McLaren of Jenson Button in P3.
Lewis Hamilton was fourth fastest, ahead of the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso in fifth and Mercedes of Nico Rosberg in sixth. Felipe Massa starts seventh in his home grand prix with the Force India of Adrian Sutil beside him in eighth. Bruno Senna was ninth fastest for Renault and rounding off the top ten was Michael Schumacher, who did not set a time in Q3.
Mark Webber drove a strong race and took maximum advantage of a perfect strategy to win the Brazilian Grand Prix at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo but the big winner of the day was Jenson Button as he drove magnificently to finish fifth and clinch the 2009 Formula One World Drivers’ Championship in the penultimate race of the season. He had a touch of good luck as well! Pole sitter Rubens Barrichello first lost out on the race lead to Webber and fell down into third place and then picked up a puncture to fall behind Button and thus spell the end of his title challenge.
BMW’s Robert Kubica also drove beautifully as he finished in 2nd place, having started in eighth place. More satisfying would be the 3rd place finish of Lewis Hamilton, who started down in sixteenth place! Sebastian Vettel also had a good race as he finished 4th having started fifteenth. Button took 5th place ahead of Kimi Raikkonen in 6th with Sebastian Buemi finishing 7th and Rubens Barrichello taking the last point-scoring position in 8th. Button now has 89 points and an unassailable 15 point lead in the championship with just the one race remaining. Sebastian Vettel leapfrogs Barrichello into 2nd place with 74 points compared to Rubens’ 72. Brawn GP also take the Constructors’ Championship and Red Bull will finish second. Hamilton and McLaren leapfrog ahead of Kimi and Ferrari into 5th place in the drivers’ and 3rd place in the constructors race.
The start of the race was a frenetic one as pole sitter Rubens Barrichello managed to pull away clearly with Mark Webber behind but it was a close run for third place as the KERS-powered Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen came close onto the tail of the Force India of Adrian Sutil and there was some wheel banging and wing touching as Sutil had to squeeze between the Ferrari and Red Bull. Kimi lost his front wing as he tagged the back of Webber and had to make an early pit stop to rectify that. At the tail-end of the field, Heikki Kovalainen got caught into a spin and nearly tagged the Ferrari of Giancarlo Fisichella behind him. That also brought him into the pits and there was a scary moment therein as Kovalainen drove off with the fuel rig still attached and the Ferrari of Kimi following behind, managed to light up the spraying fumes and causing a flash fire on the Ferrari!
Rubens Barrichello took Pole Position at his home grand prix – the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos in Sao Paulo - as his championship contenders struggled and didn’t even finish in the top ten! “Jenson Button in P14, Sebastian Vettel in P16, where are you now?” exclaimed Barrichello’s race engineer and the delight was very much apparent in his voice as Barrichello put himself in the best possible position for launching a title challenge by clinching pole position in rainy conditions. Red Bull’s Mark Webber will start in P2 with Force India’s Adrian Sutil in P3. Toyota’s Jarno Trulli, Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen, Toro Rosso of Sebastian Buemi, Williams of Nico Rosberg & Kazuki Nakajima, with the BMW of Robert Kubica in between and Renault of Fernando Alonso complete the top ten. That makes it 9 teams in the top ten grid places with just Williams managing to get both their cars in the mix.
Ran dogged the entire session and caused several sizeable delays and saw few red flags as well. But the last ten minutes were played out on a drying track and it made for a spectacular session as no less than 7 drivers exchanged fastest laps – all within just a few minutes! Barrichello ended up with the fastest of them all just as the chequered flag fell and he will be mighty delighted about it; especially with both his championship contenders starting way back on the grid. Mark Webber probably would have took pole if he continued for another flying lap but maybe his tyres were losing the optimum performance levels. It was brilliant drive from Adrian Sutil to post the third fastest time, given Force India’s struggles in the past few races.
McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton is the 2008 Formula One World Champion as the title was decided AFTER the Chequered Flag had waved down on Felipe Massa’s dramatic victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix. Fernando Alonso finished second and Kimi Raikkonen third and that ensured the Constructors’ Championship was won by Ferrari. Sebastian Vettel finished fourth and Lewis Hamilton finished fifth – just enough to make him Champion. Dramas dominated at the fag end of the race as Sebastian Vettel managed to overtake Hamilton with two laps to go thus dropping him to sixth place and thus ensuring Massa would become the Champion but Timo Glock’s Toyota – who was in fourth place ahead of Vettel and Hamilton - slowed down just before the finish line thus giving back fifth position to Hamilton, and thus making him the Champion.
Brazilian Grand Prix Podium Finishers - Fernando Alonso 2nd, Felipe Massa the winner & Kimi Raikkonen 3rd
There was a big surprise in store even before the red lights could go off as the rain started belting down on Interlagos before the formation lap and as a result, the race start was delayed by ten minutes. All the teams then strapped on intermediate tyres as the rain quickly stopped but the track was still wet. The start was pretty much hectic and everyone kept their places but the ones to lose out were David Coulthard, in his last Grand Prix who was tucked into a spin by Nico Rosberg; Heikki Kovalainen who was overtook by Fernando Alonso & Nelson Piquet, who spun out of his home grand prix. Felipe Massa kept his lead but teammate Kimi Raikkonen was unable to pass second placed Jarno Trulli in the opening laps. Hamilton did what he had to do – stay out of trouble & keep within fifth place – and was scarcely troubled.
Teams’ strategies were compromised as they had to make an extra pit stop to replace the intermediates with dry-weather tyres and temporary advantage-gainers were the Force India of Giancarlo Fisichella, who ran as high as fifth before dropping down the order. Trulli also fell steadily down the order and it was Sebastian Vettel who initially troubled Massa at the head of the order. Fernando Alonso kept his good start intact and steadily ran in third place and towards the closing stages, had to fend off a charging Kimi Raikkonen.
But there was some more surprises in store as it started to rain with just five laps to go and all the drivers had to make a splash-and-dash pit stops for fitting on intermediate tyres. And amidst all of that, the Toro Rosso of Sebastian Vettel – with a Ferrari engine in the back – pulled off a stunning overtaking manoeuvre over Lewis Hamilton and thus put him in sixth place, which meant if it finished that way, Felipe Massa would become Champion. It was a nail-biting finale and as the Chequered Flag waved down on Felipe Massa, Vettel led Hamilton onto the finish line but crucially ahead of them, the Toyota of Timo Glock slowed down and let these two pass, which meant Vettel had finished fourth and Hamilton fifth, handing the WDC title back to Hamilton! It couldn’t have been scripted better than that!
Felipe Massa will start on pole position for his home grand prix – the season ending Brazilian Grand Prix as Championship leader Lewis Hamilton could only manage 4th fastest. The surprise package of the session was the Toyota of Jarno Trulli who was second fastest, pushing Kimi Raikkonen to third place on the grid. Heikki Kovalainen would start on the third row with Fernando Alonso alongside him in sixth. Sebastian Vettel, Nick Heidfeld, Sebastien Bourdais and Timo Glock complete the top 10.
Brazilain Grand Prix Grid - Toyota's Jarno Trulli in P2, Ferrari's Felipe Massa on Pole and Kimi Raikkonen in P3
BMW’s Robert Kubica had a dismal qualifying session as he failed to make it to Q3. Others who failed to make the top ten shootout included the two Red Bulls of David Coulthard and Mark Webber, Nelson Piquet and Rubens Barrichello. Q1 accounted for the two Force Indias of Giancarlo Fisichella and Adrian Sutil, both the Williams’ of Nico Rosberg and Kazuki Nakajima and Honda’s Jenson Button.
Star Sports again gave prominence to EPL and hence the deferred telecast of the Qualifying session is only at 1 AM in the night
Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen clinched the 2007 Formula 1 Drivers’ Championship in an enthralling race at the Interlagos. Going into the last race of the season trailing by seven points to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton and by 3 points to two-time world champion Fernando Alonso, Kimi needed to win the race with Alonso finishing no higher than third and Hamilton finishing no higher than sixth. And one couldn’t have scripted a better finale, as Kimi won the race with Alonso coming third and Hamilton finishing seventh. This meant that the Finn had 110 points compared to Hamilton’s and Alonso’s 109 – thus winning the title by a single point!!!
There was palpable excitement surrounding this race, most of which had started off right after Hamilton’s gravel-stop-incident at Shanghai. Hamilton still was in the lead and after Saturday’s Qualifying, he had both his title rivals behind him on the grid. He just had to maintain his position and finish ahead of his teammate Alonso while ensuring that Kimi didn’t win. But it all went awry at the start itself! Pole-sitter Massa’s deft maneouvres coupled with Kimi and Alonso’s aggressive starts caused Hamilton to slip back into 4th place at the start of race and as they went into turn two, he tried re-passing Alonso in vain and slid wide, and rejoined in 8th position. The two Ferraris of Massa and Raikkonen were leading the race with Alonso in pursuit. Things went from bad to worse for Hamilton as his McLaren suddenly lost gear-shifting and he appeared to nearly come to a standstill. The car managed to pickup the gears again but by that time he was down in 18th place and the chances of the title went poof! in smoke. The situation suddenly looked rosy for Alonso – with Kimi in 2nd place and himself in 3rd, the Spaniard would become Champion!!!But Ferrari – and of course Kimi – had it all panned out nicely and by the time the second pitstops arrived, Kimi drove some fast in and out laps and emerged ahead of his teammate and now, it was Kimi who was going to become champion! Hamilton did manage to carve his way past some of the slower-running cars but eventually had to settle for 7th place. But, as he himself said, he still has a long career ahead of him and there would be no dearth of championship crowns for him.
The rest of the runners were kinda lost in the wake of the championship battle but there were a few notable incidents and results. Nico Rosberg scored his best finish of the season in 4th place, ahead of the BMW duo of Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld. Sakon Yamamoto and Kazuki Nakajima had ugly incidents – with the former running into the back of Giancarlo Fisichella’s Renault (though it was Fisichella’s fault) and the latter cannoning his car into the mechanics at his pitstop! Mark Webber couldn’t convert his promising start into a meaningful victory and retired from the race after just fourteen laps. Neither of the Hondas nor the Renaults finish the race, the former due to engine failures and the latter due to accidents.
Thus, the curtain falls on one of the memorable seasons of Formula One. I have a vague memory of the 2003 season which was decided by 2 points but this one had much more action – both on and off the field – more aggressive maneouvres and more adrenalin-inducing, fist-pumping moments. None more so exciting as the Brazilian Grand Prix! I was all alone while I was watching the race so there was no yelling and jumping about, but I sure did lotsa fist-pumping and clapping – for Kimi Raikkonen of course
First thing I heard when I announced to friends that Felipe Massa had grabbed Pole Position for the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix was that “Why does he have to butt into the three-way title race?”!!! Itz his home race maan…and he has to prove his fans and countrymen that he was no also-ran this season. Just that his challenge petered off at the wrong time!
The Telecast of the Qualifying was on ESPN and I was glued to Star Sports and hence missed it, but reports suggested that Massa drove a quick lap to take pole position and even though Hamilton was quicker across the first two sectors, he settled for P2 rather than go all-out for pole. Kimi Raikkonen was impeded sort-of by Hamilton at the start of his flying lap and hence could manage only third fastest. Fernando Alonso suffered from an ill-advised setup change and came round only fourth fastest. Red Bull’s Mark Webber was a surprise 5th ahead of the BMW’s of Nick Heidfeld and Robert Kubica. Jarno Trulli, David Coulthard and Nico Rosberg round off the top 10.
For the Sunday Race, Hamilton is in the best position to pace his race and even if Raikkonen gets past him, I don’t thing Hamilton’s gonna let Alonso overtake him and would be quite content to let the Ferraris finish ahead with himself in 3rd place. It would be interesting if Alonso and Hamilton have a pitched battle for 3rd position and err… umm…contrive to take each other out