Vettel crowned 2012 F1 champion
26 November 2012, 10:43
Brazil - Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel became Formula 1's youngest triple world champion at the age of 25 after a wet and wild Brazilian Grand Prix rollercoaster won by McLaren's Jenson Button behind the safety car on Sunday.
The German, who needed only a fourth place to be sure of becoming the first driver to win his first three titles consecutively, finished sixth after battling back from last spot on the opening lap.
'YOU'RE THE MAN!'
It was enough, however, when sole rival Fernando Alonso crossed the line in his Ferrari in second place with Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa third.
Team principal Christian Horner shouted over the team radio as Vettel crossed the finish line after what must have been one of the most nerve-racking races of his career, "You're a triple world champion. You're the man. You are a triple world champion!"
Vettel ended the season with 281 points to 278 for Alonso, who would have been the youngest triple champion at 31 had results gone his way on a day when the fickle Brazilian weather produced a thriller.
The chaos started right from the off, when Vettel fell back into the pack and was caught in a collision with Brazilian Bruno Senna's Williams that left him facing the wrong way with a damaged car.
"There is visible damage, it is not the front wing, we cannot fix it," he was told as he rejoined the chase with the whole race ahead of him.
Four laps later Vettel was assured the data looked good and Red Bull technical head Adrian Newey had a photograph of the damage taken at the driver's pitstop to get a closer look from the pit wall.
Alonso, Vettel's only title rival who had 13 points to make up, looked like he could steal it as the championship pendulum swung both ways over the 71 laps at the Interlagos circuit.
The safety car was deployed twice, there were crashes, collisions, botched pitstops and constant uncertainty about the weather with black clouds overhead, occasional rain but not the torrential downpour many had feared.
McLaren's Lewis Hamilton had led from pole position but could not shake off team mate Button, who made a wise decision to do a long first stint along with Force India's Nico Hulkenberg.
Hamilton's last race for McLaren before he joins Mercedes ended when he and Hulkenberg collided on the 54th lap as they came up to lap back markers into turn one.
Hulkenberg, who had led for much of the race, was able to rejoin but was given a drive through penalty that ended his hopes of a podium finish.
Australian Mark Webber finished fourth, ahead of Hulkenberg in fifth in his last race for Force India before moving to Sauber.
Seven-times world champion Michael Schumacher took a surprising seventh place for Mercedes in his last race in F1.
Out of the points, Caterham celebrated 11th place for Russian Vitaly Petrov that lifted them back ahead of Marussia into 10th place overall in the championship - a finish worth millions to the team.
Result from the Brazilian F1 GP at the Interlagos circuit, Sao Paulo:
1 Jenson Button McLaren 1hour45min22.656sec
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari +02.754
3 Felipe Massa Ferrari +03.615
4 Mark Webber Red Bull +04.936
5 Nico Hulkenberg Force India +05.708
6 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull +09.453
7 Michael Schumacher Mercedes +11.907
8 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso +28.653
9 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber +31.250
10 Kimi Raikkonen Lotus +1 lap
11 Vitaly Petrov Caterham +1 lap
12 Charles Pic Marussia +1 lap
13 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso +1 lap
14 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham +1 lap
15 Nico Rosberg Mercedes +1 lap
16 Timo Glock Marussia +1 lap
17 Pedro de la Rosa HRT +2 laps
18 Narain Karthikeyan HRT +2 laps
19 (retired) Paul Di Resta Force India +3 laps
Fastest Lap: Lewis Hamilton,1:18.069, lap 38.
Lewis Hamilton McLaren 17 laps
Romain Grosjean Lotus 66 laps
Pastor Maldonado Williams 70 laps
Sergio Perez Sauber 71 laps
Bruno Senna Williams 71 laps