Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011

Webber ends season on a high with Brazil win

2011 Brazilian Grand Prix reviewPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011
Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2011

Mark Webber scored his first victory of 2011 in the final race of the season at Interlagos.

He took the lead after team mate Sebastian Vettel slowed with a gearbox problem early in the race.

Jenson Button came out on top in a late battle with Fernando Alonso for third place.

Despite widespread reports of rain, the race started in dry conditions. Vettel kept the lead easily and sprinted off into a 2.2-second lead after just two laps.

Vettel streaks ahead

Webber took up second behind him while Button came under pressure from Alonso, who had passed Lewis Hamilton on the first lap.

Alonso kept pressuring Button and eventually drew alongside him at the exit of Sudia do Lago. The pair headed side-by-sided in the quick Ferradura right-hander, Alonso on the outside as he flashed around the outside and into third place.

Button slipped back into the clutches of his team mate but was soon heading to the pits for an early tyre change, which sparked off a series of stops from other runners.

Felipe Massa was one of the last to make his first visit to the pits, staying out long enough to briefly take the lead at his home race. But Vettel was soon on his tail and used the DRS zone to easily re-take first place.

Webber takes over the lead

It was around the time the first of several messages between Vettel and his race engineer revealed Red Bull believed Vettel had a gearbox problem. He was repeatedly told to manage the car by short-shifting.

Webber caught his slowing team mate and moved through into the lead on lap 30. But Vettel dropped back only gradually over the following laps and even set the fastest lap at one point, prompting fresh reminders from Guillaume Rocquelin to look after the car.

Vettel wasn’t the only driver with a gearbox problem. Hamilton was also advised of a similar fault on his car, but he wasn’t able to make it to the end of the race.

He had dropped behind Massa and made several attempts to pass the Ferrari before making what should have been his final pit stop. He was shaping up to attack Massa in the DRS zone when his car slowed and he pulled over into retirement.

Button takes Alonso

Meanwhile the other McLaren of Button was mounting a comeback after pitting twice for medium tyres. As the Ferrari struggled on the medium compounds he reeled in Alonso for third place, and took the place back in the DRS zone.

Button took over half a second per lap out of Vettel, but fell well short of catching him before the chequered flag.

Adrian Sutil claimed sixth place after an entertaining battle with Nico Rosberg. He passed the Mercedes driver heading into the Senna S only to be out-done on the brakes by Rosberg and fall back behind.

Sutil tried again on the next lap and this time squeezed Rosberg towards the inside of the corner to be sure of taking the place.

Behind them came Paul di Resta, coping with KERS and gearbox problems, cementing Force India’s sixth place in the championship. They ended the year just four points behind Renault.

Sauber seal seventh

Kamui Kobayashi brought his Sauber home eighth, 4.5 seconds behind di Resta, after being warned by his team not to take risks in battle with the Force India. He had both Toro Rossos behind at the time and Sauber were alert to the threat of losing their grip on seventh in the championship.

With Vitaly Petrov finishing tenth, Sauber were safe, the Toro Rosso pair taking 11th and 12th.

Sergio Perez was 13th in the other Sauber having lost time with a spin.

Rubens Barrichello started 12th on the grid but bogged down at the start and fell to 20th. He recovered to finish 14th, setting his fastest lap on the final tour as he strove to keep Michael Schumacher behind.

Schumacher had been delayed following contact with Bruno Senna on lap ten. The stewards held Senna responsible, and a drive-through penalty condemned him to 17th behind Heikki Kovalainen.

Lotus were one team who must have been grateful for the lack of rain, as it removed any serious threat to their previous tenth place in the constructors’ championship. The remaining finishers were Jarno Trulli, Jerome D’Ambrosio and Daniel Ricciardo.

Red Bull dominate again

Webber sealed his first win of the year with the fastest lap on the final lap of the race. The closest non-Red Bull finisher was almost half a minute behind.

Despite his gearbox problem, Vettel ended up almost 17 seconds behind his team mate, and over ten clear of Button.

It served only to underline the emphatic dominance of Red Bull throughout the season, and particularly in the second half. Their rivals have much to do in the next two months before testing for the 2012 season resumes.

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