Vettel Takes Third Crown; Button Wins Brazilian GP


  • Sebastian Vettel Picture

    Sebastian Vettel Picture

    Sebastian Vettel finished 6th and edged Fernando Alonso for the Formula 1 championship Sunday. | November 26, 2012

Just the Facts:
  • Sebastian Vettel finished 6th and edged Fernando Alonso for the Formula 1 championship Sunday.
  • Jenson Button overcame a rain-splattered day to win the Brazilian GP.
  • Alonso was 2nd in the race and ended just three points behind Vettel.

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Chaos reigned — actually, rained — at Sunday's Brazilian Grand Prix, but at the end of a bizarre and soggy day, Jenson Button was atop the podium and 6th-place Sebastian Vettel was a triple world champion.

Fernando Alonso took 2nd and at times during the race was in position to take a third driving championship of his own. But Vettel, whose Red Bull machine was knocked for a loop in a first-lap tangle, scrapped his way back and finished high enough to save the title.

Alonso's Ferrari teammate, home-country favorite and two-time Brazilian GP winner Felipe Massa, completed the podium.

Button's brilliant wet-weather driving and Vettel's dogged comeback won the day. Button and teammate Lewis Hamilton, the pole winner, and their McLaren-Mercedes machines proved most adept at handling a never-quite-dry surface at the Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit.

As the precipitation wavered between mist to sprinkle to near-downpour, Button, Hamilton and surprising Nico Hulkenberg — in a Force India car that has not won a point all year — stayed on slick tires even as the track became more and more damp. Hamilton was the first to pit, but Button and Hulkenberg raced away to a lead of more than 40 seconds as others struggled with grip and, one by one, pitted for intermediate rain tires.

Their big lead was erased when the race was slowed and the field lined up behind the safety car because of debris on the track from several minor collisions.

Hamilton surged into the lead, but his car was damaged when Hulkenberg tried to get inside him at Turn 1 to regain command and the two collided. That marked an ignominious end to Hamilton's tenure with McLaren, as he will move to the Mercedes F1 team next year.

The safety car also helped Vettel climb high enough in the standings to secure his championship. His finish combined with Alonso's resulted in a three-point margin of victory. He had led Alonso by 13 coming into the season finale.

Vettel added to his list of "youngest ever" titles. The youngest champion at 23 and youngest double champion at 24, he is now the youngest triple champion at 25 — and also joins Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to win as many as three straight titles. Fangio won four straight and five overall and Schumacher won five straight and seven overall.

The race ended at reduced speed behind the safety car in its second appearance after a hard crash by Paul di Resta, who escaped injury after he lost control in a high-speed corner with rain growing heavier and heavier.

Button opened the season with victory in the Australian Grand Prix and added a second victory in Round 12 of the 20-race schedule in the Belgian GP. He finished 5th in driver points behind Vettel, Alonso, Kimi Raikkonen and Hamilton.

Edmunds says: One of the most entertaining F1 seasons ever was capped by one of the most action- and drama-filled finales ever.

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