Sebastian Vettel’s recovery drive to 6th place in Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix was just enough to earn the Red Bull racer his third world title in three seasons.
In front of a rapturous crowd, Vettel fell to the back of the field in the fourth corner when he collided with the Williams of Bruno Senna.
Scattered carbon fibre litter – remnants of battles gone awry and grip shy clumsiness – brought a safety car intervention.
Like Abu Dhabi, the race neutralisation eased Sebastian back into the game, but not unduly so – Vettel would have got there regardless, such is the worth of the RB8 under his lightly control.
Meanwhile toward the front, Nico Hulkenberg and Lewis Hamilton tangled behind the gearbox of a wandering Caterham, gifting Jenson Button the victory and Hulkenberg a penalty.
Hamilton, in his final race with McLaren, lifted his dejected frame from the silver cockpit – that walk to the pits must seem an eternity when flirt passed at 180 mph on the start / finish bend.
Despite being a long way off of Button, Alonso charged on relentlessly to 2nd spot, dragging speed and precision from a Ferrari F2012 that often looked like it handled like a cow.
Its unwillingness to turn in on corner entry was often matched by the rear end’s desire to “flick” outward as bends unfolded. So many times, Alonso’s hands would shuffle frantically as control was lost / regained / lost / regained in less than tenth-of-a-second. Rarely was such unease noted in the RB8…
Vettel’s charge continued; easy moves on the Toro Rosso’s and the retiring Michael Schumacher followed, while Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi playing a far more difficult game, before spinning.
The Japanese driver is currently raising money from fans to help fund a 2013 seat in Formula One and has already and has thus far garnered over £500,000 – a good effort, yet one can’t help but think better performances throughout the season would have been more beneficial to his cause.
As good a driver as Kobayashi is, it does not help that has been rather invisible for much of this year.
From there, Vettel’s only needed to settle in to his top six position and with Button a long way clear of Alonso in the closing laps, it would need a catastrophe to rob the German of his third title.
There was a late smash courtesy of Paul di Resta, bringing out a safety car on the penultimate lap, but this was certainly not going to stop Sebastian. He may have taken the crown at reduced speed, but it didn’t matter – the job had been done.
He is growing in confidence and with each season is maturing rapidly. For some, Vettel is winning world championships purely on the back of designs from Adrian Newey and his team – that’s arguable, but one could argue that point about almost every champion.
Like all other title winners, these cars also require someone to drive them, regardless of how good or bad they may be and thus far Vettel appears to be doing his job impeccably well.
As for Ferrari, it would not surprise if that truly was the third best car in the field – Ferrari seem to be getting things wrong on a regular basis at the moment.
If anything, the Ferrari’s true potential was a halfway house between Massa’s and Alonso’s overall performances this season. If the capable Massa had shown up in the opening half of the season, although it may be look back to what upgrade that worked so well for the Brazilian – ten consecutive points finishes is nothing to sneer at. On current form, don’t be surprised if Massa sneaks at least one Grand Prix victory in 2013.
Looking back over the course of the season, Alonso holds my vote as probably best driver in Formula One for no other reason than his sheer stubbornness, but Vettel is a more than deserving World Champion.