Red Bull’s Mark Webber wins Brazilian Grand Prix as champion teammate Vettel eases home
The final race of the season proved to be more than a foregone conclusion with Sebastian Vettel suffering with a gearbox problem and having to nurse his car home, Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren retired with a broken gearbox and Virgin Racing’s Timo Glock caused chaos in the pit lane as he set off before his wheels were on his car.
It was a thrilling way to end the 2011 season and from the very start it was going to be something special. All the cars made it safely through the first corner with the Ferraris of Fernando Alonso and Filipe Massa moving up a place each to fourth and sixth respectively, and Jenson Button threatening Mark Webber, but as the battle wore on it became apparent that no one was going to have an easy race.
Michael Schumacher tried to outbrake Bruno Senna going into turn one on lap ten but Senna refused to concede, resulting in a smashed endplate on Senna’s Lotus Renault and a rear puncture for Schumacher’s Mercedes – effectively ending his chances of a strong points finish and earning a penalty for the young Brazilian.
Meanwhile Alonso pulled off a stunning pass on Button and went all the way around the outside of him on turn five to claim third place behind the RedBulls of Webber and Vettel. On lap 14 Vettel’s radio crackled into life to warn him that he had a gearbox problem. At this point most of those watching the race assumed Vettel would only last another five or so laps before he had to retire, but a round of pitstops shuffled the grid and left Vettel still leading the Grand Prix.
It was during this round of pitstops that Timo Glock decided to leave his pitbox before his Virgin racing crew had secured all his wheels and he was quickly passed by his own rear wheel which bounced off down the pit exit road leaving him stranded and ending his race.
It wasn’t until lap 26 that Vettel’s mechanic told him his gearbox was about to fail and he should reduce his revs and not push so hard, and it was this news that must have been music to Mark Webber’s ears and by lap 30 Vettel had let him pass to take first place. Fernando Alonso was hunting them down though and it looked like only a matter of time until he caught and passed the stricken Vettel but on lap 34 Vettel had set the fastest lap of the race and seemed to be keeping up with Webber.
By lap 34 Lewis Hamilton was told he also had a gearbox problem but presses on as both he and team mate Jenson Button are quickly catching the Ferrari of Massa. Button swiftly overcame Massa, and Hamilton looked set to do the same, but by lap 44 still had not managed to take the place and after a round of pit stops Hamilton made a brief return to the circuit before having to retire on lap 48 with a gearbox full of broken gears.
Further up the field the Force India partners Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta were dogfighting with each other and the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg with all three putting in a huge effort to take as many points as possible off each other before the end of the race.
By lap 60 Jenson Button was climbing all over the back of Fernado Alonso’s Ferrari and swiftly paid the Spaniard back for the earlier pass, by taking third place from him before starting to chase down the stricken RedBull of Vettel, drawing ever closer with each lap. Despite his best efforts Button could not catch him before the chequered flag fell and had to settle for third place behind the RedBulls of Webber and Vettel while Alonso and Massa guided the Ferraris to fourth and fifth. Adrian Sutil managed to finish ahead of Rosberg’s Mercedes in sixth with his Force India teammate Paul di Resta in eighth ahead of the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi and the Renault of Vitaly Petrov.
|1||Australia||M Webber||Red Bull|
|2||Germany||S Vettel||Red Bull|
|3||Great Britain||J Button||McLaren|
|6||Germany||A Sutil||Force India|
|8||Great Britain||P Di Resta||Force India|
|10||Russian Federation||V Petrov||Renault|
|11||Spain||J Alguersuari||Toro Rosso|
|12||Switzerland||S Buemi||Toro Rosso|
|21||Italy||V Liuzzi (ret.)||HRT|
|22||Great Britain||L Hamilton (ret.)||McLaren|
|23||Venezuela||P Maldonado (ret.)||Williams|
|24||Germany||T Glock (ret.)||Virgin|