McLaren driver Jenson Button won a pulsating final Formula 1 race of the season, but it was Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel who stole the headlines at the Brazilian Grand Prix by becoming the sport’s youngest-ever triple world champion after finishing sixth in Sao Paulo.
The race, which was run in the wet, damp and dry at various times, was full of drama, as Vettel recovered from a first-lap clash that dropped him to last position and climbed back through the field, while title rival Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) made the most of a fast start, great pace and the misfortune of others to finish second.
Out at the front, Button, team-mate Lewis Hamilton and Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg all showed superb pace in the damp, with all three taking turns in the lead. By staying on slicks while other runners pitted for intermediates, Button and Hulkenberg pulled out a huge lead, with the German passing the Briton after a long duel, but their advantage was undone by a safety car period.
With the field bunched up, Hulkenberg pulled away, with Hamilton passing Button and giving chase. A mistake from Hulkenberg let Hamilton through, but the Force India driver clung on and made a move at two-thirds distance as they lapped traffic. However, he lost control in the damp conditions under braking and slid in to Hamilton. The Briton, in his final race for McLaren, had to retire, while Hulkenberg got a drive-through penalty.
Heavy rain then threw in another curveball, with Vettel stopping early for tyres only to find his pit crew weren’t ready. However, he quickly climbed to sixth, which was enough to earn him the title from Alonso, who had tenaciously climbed up to second position, ahead of his rapid Ferrari team-mate, Felipe Massa.
The race then came to a slightly premature end as Paul di Resta (Force India) crashed heavily on the pit-straight kink and brought out the safety car with a lap to go. Michael Schumacher (Mercedes) finished seventh in his final-ever F1 race.