Interlagos: Race Day

Are we going to be crowning a new World Driver Champion today? Will Alonso make the dash from 5th and win it? Will Webber cling on and push it to Abu Dhabi? Will Vettel slip out of contention? What on earth will Hulkenberg do with his pole position?

So many questions! Who ever said F1 was boring? Yeah we may have a dodgy start in Bahrain; but who remembers that now? Here we are, the back end of the season, the penultimate race, and we’re at the edge of our seats. Fireworks were sent shooting from Red Bull’s motorhome on Thursday and they have barely stopped all weekend; from Button and Massa’s poor qualifying to the rookie at the front.

This is motorsport, this is F1, this is it!

A combination of engineering excellence, team strategy and the best 24 drivers in the world (and occasional bouts ‘inclement weather’), has delivered another vintage season. We’ve had the team orders, flying lessons, bashes, crashes and ‘racing incidents’. Not content with that we’ve had rivalries exposed, teams divided and engines fail.

Breaking News:

The biggest news over night has to be the attempted car-jacking of Jenson Button’s car as he left the track. In an armoured car with his father, physiotherapist and manager; a group approached the vehicle but their trained driver expertly avoided the situation and they were deposited safely at the hotel. Brazilian authorities were quick to act and extra security will be sent with him as he travels to Interlagos on Sunday.

Read: Button car-jacked

The Race:

There were high expectations placed on Brazil; not only to put on a fantastic Grand Prix, but to provide the winner of the driver’s championship. The winner has been decided here for the last 5 years; so it was all eyes on Alonso to continue this tradition, but did he do it?

Martin Brundle started his day off with an athletic grid walk (actually it was more like a Challenge Anneka style assault on the drivers). He chases drivers as they make their way to their cars; Vettel looks relaxed as he guides the camera away from the back end of his car. He catches up with an escaping Massa. Not to be outdone Lee McKenzie catches up with Webber and Button as they head to their respective cars.

I can’t stand the tension. As the formation lap starts I already have my head in my hands; with this level of pressure a silly mistake can end it before it begins. They line up and wait for the red to turn to green. As they do this I notice that Hamilton’s back tires are resting on the checkered start/finish line. Will that make a difference to his start?

Lap 1: Vettel gets a great start and shoots past Hulkenberg at turn 1, as expected, Webber gets the job done at turn 4.

The first corner at Interlagos 2010

Lap 2: Hamilton and Alonso are at it for 4th position, Hulkenberg holding the pair off spectacularly. The Spaniard takes him on the start/finish straight, but the Englishman retakes 4th only to run wide and give it away.

Lap 3: The places Button made up at the start are ruined by Schumacher as he forces the Briton into 9th.

Lap 4: Hulkenberg playing a blinder and is holding Alonso off through sheer will and determination. And a good bit of defensive driving.

Lap 7: The inevitable happens and Alonso finally overtakes Hulkenberg; but the time spent behind him has allowed the Red Bulls to tear off into the distance.

Lap 8: Hamilton is complaining about his lap of grip.

Lap 9: Webber is around 9.3 seconds ahead of Alonso and it’s clear he’s well off the pace, even without traffic.

Lap 11: Hamilton has yet to pass Hulkenberg; and it told to do everything he can to pass him. A McLaren is having to push big-time to pass a Williams…no I’ve seen everything…but it’s still a cracking drive from The Hulk. And Button’s in the pits, a bit early, no? He’s out on the harder compound.

Lap 13: Webber is stretching his lead over the top title contender; now standing at 10.7 seconds. Barrichello pits and Massa visits for the second time (wheel nut problem).

Lap 17: Hamilton still moaning. Where’s the eager beaver from Korea gone? Is he realising that his title hope are fading fast? Hulkenberg, Kubica and Heidfeld pit.

Lap 18: Button up to 10th (overtaking Petrov), Vettel still leading, Webber behind by 2.4 seconds, Alonso behind him by 11.

Lap 20: Hamilton pits now; and just makes it out in front of Button.

Lap 21: Red Bull pitting will take a lead from Alonso; surely Vettel first, then Webber.

Lap 23: Fernando pits and gets out in front of Rosberg; Ferrari showing excellent traffic management.

Lap 24: I was right; Vettel comes in first.

Lap 25: No surprises; Webber pits next and retains 2nd place.

Lap 27: Vettel sets the fastest time. 1:15.969

Lap 28: Webber follows and takes the fastest lap for himself. 1:15.839. Surely they can’t be caught.

Lap 30: Alonso concedes defeat; “…we can’t touch them.”

Lap 32: Webber is forever closing in; will he get himself into position to attack?

Lap 35: Shame for the home crowd to see their man Barrichello struck down with a front left puncture; caused by his brush with Toro Rosso’s Alguersuari.

Lap 37: 5 Live analyst Anthony Davidson comments on Webber’s fitness being a big advantage for this race. Hamilton is still having a moan; this time about his F-Duct not working as it should. And Webber has obviously got Radio 5 Live on as he keeps the pressure on Vettel by going even faster (1:15.431).

Lap 38/39: Lots of activity on the Red Bull pit wall; Horner taking phone calls, lots of discussion between them. If Webber wants a win he’s going to have to do it alone.

Lap 40: Webber’s tires are conspiring against him and are overheating; the gap now stands at 2.8 seconds. What must he be thinking?

Lap 42: Webber’s clawing the time back to make it 2.5 seconds. Alonso has no chance of catching him at this rate; the gap it at a massive 14 seconds.

Lap 45: Webber is pushing extremely hard the gap is at its lowest, 1.5 seconds, Vettel’s engine management strategy must straining under the pressure.

Lap 47: Loads of traffic; their massive lead over the rest of the field has caused them problems. The backmarkers could be what stands between Webber being 1 point behind Alonso and 8 points adrift. A line of traffic 8 cars long is ahead of Vettel, the first is…Massa? So much for helping Alonso out, eh? Lucus di Grassi pits; into the garage and out of his car…one less backmarker possibly? No, he rejoins the race.

Lap 49: You would think Toro Rosso would have Red Bulls best interests at heart…Alguersuari lets Vettel past fine but forces Webber to switch directions around him. Costs Webber dearly.

Lap 50: Hamilton is not having a good race at all; now his tires are falling away. Vettel gets ahead of Webber by 2.4 seconds. Vettel seems to be having a better time with the traffic; he gets around them, then they know Webber is following up behind and then decide they don’t like being lapped.

Lap 51: A small ray of sunshine perhaps? Liuzzi cans it at turn 2 and I have a flashback to Korea…take it easy guys. Hamilton pits for harder tires, Button swaps onto something softer. Safety car is out; but as there is no overtaking Webber is stuck 2 cars behind Vettel and god knows how many cars Alonso is behind. Maybe a tweak to the rules is needed so everyone can get into the race position…then we could have a race instead of a lesson in overtaking.

Lap 55: Safety car in this lap.

Lap 56: Webber is caught napping and fails to overtake Kubica immediately at the restart. Needless to say my head is in my hands at this point; I want to see a car to car race between these two.

Lap 57: Vettel ahead by 3 seconds. Alguersuari seems to have it in for the race leaders and doesn’t yield straight away for Alonso to come through. I’m not impressed with Alguersuari’s driving style over the last couple of races; he’s got to realise the limitations of his car. No don’t get me wrong; I love a bit of banter on the track, but when slower cars start holding up drivers like this (regardless of what team they drive for); it’s frustrating for all involved.

Lap 60: Traffic has damaged Webber’s chance at a 1st place; Vettel is 4.4 seconds ahead and Alonso seems to catching the Aussie slowly.

Alonso at Interlagos 2010

Lap 61: I’m worried; Vettel has extended to a scary 5 seconds, with no pictures to see why it can only be traffic or (whisper it) engine issues.

Lap 62: Alonso posts a 1:14.229 lap, and closes the gap to Webber to a respectable 4.2 seconds. What’s going on? I know there is a lot of midfield fighting going on; but it would be nice to see the top 3 for a change.

Lap 64: Webber saving face by closing the gap once again to 4.3 seconds. And let’s not forget about Hamilton, who’s just set the fastest lap (1:14.082).

Lap 65: Alonso has sensed something and is worryingly close (3.3 seconds) to Webber. No communications to let us know what’s going on; shame Alonso didn’t find this form earlier. Hamilton goes faster still, 1:13.956.

Lap 66: There might only be 5 laps to go but Alonso is still pushing, gap between him and Webber is 2.9 seconds. Hamilton must be happy with his car now; sets an even faster time of 1:13.851.

Lap 67: Nail-biting stuff as Alonso is just 2.4 seconds behind. Webber just told that Alonso can’t catch him and he can push if he wants; a bit light on fuel then methinks. Massa and Petrov clash and bodywork leaves both cars.

Lap 70: Webber responds and the gap between him and Alonso is back up to 2.7 seconds. With that performance from the Red Bulls we’re going to Abu Dhabi.

Vettel Wins!

 1. Sebastian Vettel – 1:33:11.803

2. Mark Webber – 1:33:16.046

3. Fernando Alonso – 1:33:18.610 

Read: Full race results

And with another Red Bull 1-2 finish they have clinched the constructor’s championship during the penultimate race. Europhic scenes from the Red Bull garages are played across the world; only 6 years in the sport and they’ve done it. Anyone who thought they were the laughing-stock of the F1 world has truly been taught a lesson.

Now; the Red Bulls hae won the constructors, but still the focus was still hovering around the relationship between their drivers. Apparently not speaking much (but it’s been noted that they don’t see each other off the track anyway); they seemed at ease on the podium next to each other.

But for me the most interesting part of the race was once the flag had been waved; during the BBC F1 forum. There was a moment that, had Thursday been drama free, suggested a harmony within the team. As Sebastian Vettel was philosophising about climbing mountains; and sharing a rather questionable hat with Eddie Jordan, Mark Webber charged through in a playful mood brandishing a fire extinguisher. Spraying everyone in sight; it was clear from his facial expression that a weight had been lifted; even Vettel cracked a smile.

Peace in the Red Bull camp? Maybe a truce for tonight…

Full catch up on todays gossip will arrive tomorrow, until then…

Tchau!

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Comments
One Response to “Interlagos: Race Day”
  1. Hi there,

    I work for Pepe Jeans and we would like to work with you on a collaboration (regarding our links with Team Red Bull).

    Could you please send me a contact e-mail address so i can give you more information!

    my e-mail is [removed for privacy]

    Thanks,

    Andrew

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