By João Salviano Carmo
The build-up for the last Grand Prix of the season in Interlagos, Brazil, promised an intense and dramatic race that would decide which one of the 2 F1 greats, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso, would take the title and become the youngest F1 triple World Champion.
With 13 points separating the 2 contenders at the beginning of the race expectations ran high when just before the start rain appeared around corner 4 of the circuit, confirming the forecast of a wet race and creating the perfect conditions for an uncertain outcome for the championship.
Alonso, who started 7th, had once again a perfect start and was already 5th after the first corner, while Vettel, who started 4th, had a conservative and cautious start and was 7th at the same time. A reversal of fortunes in what concerns the title appeared almost certain as in turn 4 Vettel failed to see the Williams of Bruno Senna and crashed into it, spinning, moving to the last position and with damage to his car. To make things even harder, at the end of lap 1 Alonso delivered a bit of magic, with the help of his team mate Felipe Massa, by overtaking his Ferrari colleague and Mark Webber, in the other Reb Bull, to move 3rd and mathematically positioning himself to grab the title.
However, this was only the first twist in what became throughout the afternoon a classic, one of the most dramatic and intense races in recent memory. Vettel climbed through the field to reach the points and Alonso went out on the first corner a couple of laps later and all of a sudden Vettel was the mathematical champion once again.
As the rain came and went, the race saw several changes taking place until about 15 laps to go when an accident between Lewis Hamilton (who was forced to retire as a consequence) and Niko Hulkenberg, who were at the time 1st and 2nd in the race, opened the doors for Alonso to regain his chance of fighting for the title once again. With the help of Massa, Alonso moved second as Reb Bull made an atypical mistake by calling Vettel in for the wrong tyres forcing the German to a new stop a couple of laps later placing him outside of the points very late in the race. For a few laps Alonso was again the champion to be, but Vettel with a superior car moved through the field to reach the 6th place that would guarantee him the title except if something happened to his car or to Button’s car in the front.
In the end, Alonso drove another amazing race to finish second and Vettel finished where he needed (6th) to claim his third title in a row and become the youngest triple World Champion in F1 history, breaking the record set by one the greatest of all times, Ayrton Senna.
There was a bitter taste in the end for, even if Vettel’s title is deserved and his merits are not in question, a lot of people felt that Fernando Alonso deserved the championship for his stoicism and amazing form throughout the season with a Ferrari that at some races appeared to only be the 4th fastest car in the grid. Alonso got 13 podium finishes out of 18 races he completed, including 3 wins, and lost the championship in the end by 3 points.
In every fan’s mind is now the 2013 season, which will start in March in Australia, and everyone is mouthwatering for what next year may offer after what was undoubtedly one of the best, if not the best season ever in 2012.