Sunday, November 24, 2013

Vettel Scores Historic Victory in Brazil for 2013 F1 Finale

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

After 18 grand prix race for the 2013 Formula 1 series, the final 71 laps comprising of the Brazilian Grand Prix is symbolizing a number of last opportunities.

With a new turbocharged V-6 engine mandated for competition next season, this Formula 1 finale represents the last time the V-8 powerplants will be used on the world class race tracks. For drivers, the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix will be the final time that many will drive for their respected teams. Mark Webber will be leaving Red Bull Racing and Formula 1 altogether for a spot in the debuting Porsche prototype sports car team in 2014. Competing for eight seasons with Ferrari in Formula 1, Brazilian driver Felipe Massa is concluding one chapter of his career. Massa has signed to race with Williams F1 for next season. A lot more leaves to be decided for 2014 as the grid for the final race of 2013 was set.

A poster child for stability, 2013 Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel was again rock solid in qualifying taking pole on a wet Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace surface with his Red Bull-Renault. Vying for a record-tying ninth consecutive win, Vettel starts the Brazilian Grand Prix with a ton of momentum. However, on the start, it was the Mercedes AMG car of Nico Rosberg that shot out to an early lead.

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

The advantage for Rosberg was short-lived as Vettel surged back into the lead. The optimum Mercedes AMG started off the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix with was derailed as both cars struggled with issues. Nico Rosberg fought handling while Lewis Hamilton suffered a tire puncture when he brushed a lapped Williams-Renault driven by Valtteri Bottas. That being said, both Mercedes AMG would persevere to finish within the points. 

The final race of the season ended early for the Romain Grosjean, After only two laps into the 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix, the Lotus-Renault race car suffered a freak engine explosion. “At this point in the season I think everyone needs a holiday, but apparently my engine decided to go on vacation early!" said Grosjean in post-race. While the 2013 season ended too soon for the Frenchman's liking, Grosjean ends his Formula 1 year as a much more respected driver. Romain Grosjean scored more points than his more controversial 2012 outing and ended the 2013 season with scoring points in 9 of the final 11 races. Though Heikki Kovalainen was not able to score points in the second Lotus F1 Team car, Grosjean confidently commented, "We’ve proven this year that we are a top team, and I’m certainly proud of all the guys in the garage and back at Enstone.".

Photo source: Pirelli Photo Service

With a threat of rain throughout the Sunday event, the Brazilian Grand Prix was predominately dry. A small shower did dampen the race course near the end but not enough for any teams or drivers to opt for intermediate Pirelli tires.

Possessing a 10.4 second lead, Sebastian Vettel won the Brazil Grand Prix in a largely uncontested run in the 2013 Formula 1 season finale. with the victory, the German Formula 1 World Drivers' Champion equaled Alberto Ascari's long-standing record for most consecutive grand prix wins. A win in the 2014 Formula 1 season opener would provide Vettel with the record. Helping him score his fourth championship, Vettel stood on the winning spot of the Formula 1 podium 13 of the 19 races after climbing out of his Red Bull-Renault on Sunday. By doing this, Sebastian Vettel now shares a record for most wins in a season with country mate Michael Schumacher.    

In his final grand prix race with Red Bull Racing, Mark Webber's last event before his return to sports car racing resulted in a runner-up spot. The effort becomes his 42nd career podium in 215 starts. The entire Red Bull Racing team including teammate Sebastian Vettel spoke proudly of what his been a long time spent working with the Australian. A 37-year-old driver, the end of his seven season run with Red Bull Racing is actively a retirement from the open wheel series. During his cool-down lap, Mark Webber took his helmet off in a last chance to absorb the feeling of driving competitively in the Formula 1 series. On the Red Bull Racing team website, Webber commented, "In this sport it's not always possible to give things a personal touch. We have the helmets on all the time, so they fans don't always see a Formula One driver in a car without a helmet. It was nice to get it off and see the marshals and the fans; it was just a really nice thing to experience. I heard a lot of noises that I don't normally hear.".

Completing a season that fell short of personal expectations, Fernando Alonso finished third in the final 2013 Formula 1 race. Winding up second in the overall points, the distance between him and Sebastian Vettel is a massive 155-point gap. The size of the point differential alone is enough for seventh place overall in 2013 Drivers' Championship. Collecting two wins including a climatic home country victory with the Spanish Grand Prix, Alonso and the Ferrari team were definitely not counting the late-season blitz of the #1 Red Bull-Renault. Alonso's Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa posted a seventh place run in front of his home country crowd. In addition to Sebastian Vettel's tire smoking blowout, Massa also engaged in burning rubber within a circular pattern as a farewell to Ferrari. Racing a red Ferrari race car in Formula 1 since 2006, Felipe Massa has technically been powered by Ferrari since his 2002 debut with Sauber (Sauber had a customer engine agreement with the Italian automaker company. Having driven nothing but Ferrari engine power, Massa's transition to Williams will result in the Brazilian being paired with a Mercedes-Benz powerplant

Starting in 14th and 15th place, the McLaren race cars ended a dismal season with a pair of solid runs. Jenson Button lead the charge forward climbing to fourth at the end of the Brazilian Grand Prix. Button's McLaren teammate Sergio Perez also posted an impressive sixth place effort. Both McLaren F1 team pilots made two stops for tires but had second changes The result is Perez's final effort with a McLaren-Mercedes race car as the Mexican was released late in the season in the favour of rookie Kevin Magnussen. Sergio Perez's 2014 schedule has been left open.

With a fifth place for Nico Rosberg and a ninth for Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes AMG's Brazilian Grand Prix finish is actually more successful than when comparing season-long standings. By six points, Mercedes AMG took second place in the Formula 1 Constructors' Points standings after a tough fight with Ferrari. For Lewis Hamilton's drivers' points, the Brazilian race regrettably ended up with Mark Webber overtaking the Mercedes driver for third in the final standings.

While unable to escape the back of the Formula 1 running order all 2013 season, Max Chilton receives honourable mention with Marussia. Chilton finished every race in his rookie season.

When the Formula 1 racing tour resumes in 2014, a new page will for the moment put all drivers and teams on an equal playing field. Until that time, there is little doubt the Red Bull Racing team as well as the four-time champion Sebastian Vettel will be leading the toast to successes of 2013.

2013 Formula 1
Brazilian Grand Prix
Race Result

1 1 Sebastian Vettel  Red Bull Renault
2 2 Mark Webber Red Bull Renault
3 3 Fernando Alonso Ferrari Ferrari
4 5 Jenson Button McLaren Mercedes-Benz
5 9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
6 6 Sergio Perez McLaren Mercedes-Benz
7 4 Felipe Massa Ferrari Ferrari
8 11 Nico Hulkenberg Sauber Ferrari
9 10 Lewis Hamilton Mercedes AMG Mercedes-Benz
10 19 Daniel Ricciardo Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
11 14 Paul di Resta Force India Mercedes-Benz
12 12 Esteban Gutierrez Sauber Ferrari
13 15 Adrian Sutil Force India Mercedes-Benz
14 7 Heikki Kovalainen Lotus Renault
15 18 Jean-Eric Vergne Scuderia Toro Rosso Ferrari
16 16 Pastor Maldonado Williams F1 Renault
17 22 Jules Bianchi Marussia Cosworth
18 21 Giedo van der Garde Caterham Renault
19 23 Max Chilton Marussia Cosworth
20 20 Charles Pic Caterham Renault
21 17 Valtteri Bottas Williams F1 Renault
22 8 Romain Grosjean Lotus Renault

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