Sebastian Vettel won the last stage of the 2013 Formula One season at Interlagos.
Overtakes, accidents, engines blown, drive-thru penalties, records broken, burnouts and good-byes, all packed in the most entertaining and most emotional race of this year.
Sebastian Vettel claimed the ninth consecutive victory equalling Alberto Ascari’s record and 13th in a season, equalling Michael Schumacher’s. Mark Webber didn’t look like a retiring F1 driver at all, offering a great demonstration of driving skills and tenacity behind the wheel, fighting with Alonso. The rest of the field was not less keen on offering the audience something to be excited about, with the known midfielders battling for the points or even further down the standings.
In the early stages, Romain Grosjean’s Lotus blew the last V8 engine ever, leaving a thick layer of oil smoke behind him. Massa, while in fourth, was (unfairly in my opinion) penalised with a drive-thru for cutting the white line that marks the pit entry. This decision might have possibly had an effect on the final constructors’ championship results. Later on, Hamilton got the same treatment after causing a collision, which put an end to Bottas’s race. Confusion at the Red Bull’s box when Vettel pitted but the team was waiting for his teammate to come in, causing both of the cars to lose important seconds. Alonso, who pitted as well, could overtake Webber but it took only a lap to the Aussie to regain his second position.
In conclusion, it was the best race of the season, as it often happens at Interlagos, also due to the unpredictable weather conditions throughout the whole weekend.
Mark Webber is leaving Formula One to join Porsche in the Le Mans programme. I will miss his outspoken comments about his team and Vettel, but today everybody paid their tribute to him. I still remember his first race in Melbourne 2002, finishing 5th and getting Minardi two, fundamental points. In my opinion, he deserved the 2010 world championship more than both Vettel and Alonso for how he resisted until the end in a team clearly focused on his teammate. His celebration on the podium, today, was epic.
Felipe Massa is moving to Williams. Similarly to Webber, he’s been criticised a lot since 2010, but at the end of the day, he was world champion for 30 seconds in 2008 and showed great skills until his 2009 accidents. And since he announced his move out of Ferrari, his overall performance got better. Basically, he went from hero, to zero, to hero again.
Other good-byes see Ross Brawn possibly leaving Mercedes; there are rumours of him having talks with Domenicali for a possible comeback to Ferrari, but I see it unlikely to happen.
Perez has been sacked by McLaren after just one year. I honestly cannot understand this decision, especially considering what a bad car the MP4-28 was. A move back to Sauber will mean an all-Mexican team in 2014, maybe?
Other moves include Maldonado leaving Williams and possibly Formula One together with Di Resta and Sutil, Hulkenberg going to Lotus, but everything is still a big mess there. We shall wait and see.
As much as I have never liked these V8s since their introduction in 2006, I am not looking forward to next year’s ‘Formula Dyson’. The new 1.6L, V6 turbo engines will surely have all the necessary power, but they will be lacking of the sound that made V8s (and even more V10s) so great. Unfortunately I have never heard a V12 F1 engine in person. It was interesting to see Grosjean’s engine blow up, although I am sure it was a tribute that the Frenchman would have preferred not to pay!
I have to admit, I am glad to see Vettel celebrating at the end of these few last wins with some good old wheel spins. Similarly, I liked Webber taking his helmet and balaclava off in the cool-down lap. As he told in a post-race interview, in F1 it is hard for a driver to show his emotions. Well done to both!
Well done to Marussia for finishing 10th in the standings and to Chilton for being the first rookie to finish every race in a season.
All I can say is that I wish my best to Webber in his new adventure, to Massa in a hopefully improved Williams (powered my Mercedes engines) and of course to Ferrari for putting up a decent car and team. I cannot wait to have Alonso and Raikkonen in the same team!
See you in March!
PS: congratulations to the photographer who took my cover’s picture. He surely earned his bread today!