Vettel clinches drivers’ championship hat-trick

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel has won the Formula One world drivers’ championship for the third year in a row.

Sixth place in the Brazilian Grand Prix was enough for him to secure the title as Fernando Alonso finished second.

Vettel’s success means he takes over from Ayrton Senna as the youngest driver ever to win three world championships, at the age of 25 years and 145 days. He is also the only driver to win his first three championships in consecutive seasons.

Team principal Christian Horner paid tribute to his driver and team: “Sebastian has driven better than ever this season and has fought his way back into this championship; he?s never given up and you saw that in today?s race.

“After being knocked out of position and going to the back of the field with a load of damage, he fought his way back into the race, he never gave up and it was a race of maximum stress today with rain and no rain, then incidents, spins, you name it, it happened ?ǣ safety cars, radios that didn?t work ?ǣ but you have to reflect on the season as a whole.

“Over 20 races the team has done an unbelievable job and Sebastian truly deserves this world championship. Having gone up against an incredible opponent in Fernando Alonso, and we have to pay tribute to him and the way he?s driven this year, it has made this championship even more appreciated because of the level of competition we?ve had to compete against.

“So, all I can do is thank every single member of the team for everything that they?ve put in.”

List of Formula One drivers’ champions

Rank Driver Championships
1 Michael Schumacher 7
2 Juan Manuel Fangio 5
3 Alain Prost 4
=4 Jack Brabham 3
=4 Jackie Stewart 3
=4 Niki Lauda 3
=4 Nelson Piquet 3
=4 Ayrton Senna 3
=4 Sebastian Vettel 3
=10 Alberto Ascari 2
=10 Jim Clark 2
=10 Graham Hill 2
=10 Emerson Fittipaldi 2
=10 Mika Hakkinen 2
=10 Fernando Alonso 2
=16 Giuseppe Farina 1
=16 Mike Hawthorn 1
=16 Phil Hill 1
=16 John Surtees 1
=16 Denny Hulme 1
=16 Jochen Rindt 1
=16 James Hunt 1
=16 Mario Andretti 1
=16 Jody Scheckter 1
=16 Alan Jones 1
=16 Keke Rosberg 1
=16 Nigel Mansell 1
=16 Damon Hill 1
=16 Jacques Villeneuve 1
=16 Kimi Raikkonen 1
=16 Lewis Hamilton 1
=16 Jenson Button 1

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix

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237 comments on Vettel clinches drivers’ championship hat-trick

  1. Just a thought, good on Michael Schumacher – 7 times world champion and he’s never driven an Adrian Newey designed car! Was a little sad for Alonso, drove a great race, but Vettel was terrific and so, despite the Beeb wittering on, was the race winner, the new rain master, Jenson Button!

    • gpr (@rajesh) said on 25th November 2012, 19:20

      yes …… much hype around adrian newey…….as if there are no other good engineers around!!!

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 25th November 2012, 19:41

      Just a thought, good on Michael Schumacher – 7 times world champion and he’s never driven an Adrian Newey designed car!

      The 7 cars in which he won the world championship were designed by the ANTI_Adrian Newey=>Rory Byrne

    • Ilanin (@ilanin) said on 25th November 2012, 19:49

      Schumacher drove a Rory Byrne-designed car. That’s not noticeably different to a Newey one, especially in the unlimited testing unlimited budget era which minimises the impact a single designer can have.

      • Patrickl (@patrickl) said on 25th November 2012, 20:55

        In those days a designer like Rory Byrne with his method of constant refinements instead of revolutions probably had an advantage though.

        Ferrari also had the extra millions coming from the FIA between 1997 and 2007 and the veto on the regulation changes.

  2. Andreas (@atferrari) said on 25th November 2012, 19:03

    Alberto Ascari is missing from this list. But many thanks for your otherwise superb coverage of F1. Your articles have long become part of my daily diet. Thank you.

  3. JB (@) said on 25th November 2012, 19:16

    Well, from the bottom of my heart, all I can say is congratulations. It was a terrific race. Had me at the edge of my seat. SV drove a great race… I have to give him that. Alonso once again demonstrated that he is without a doubt the best in my book. I could not have asked for anything more BUT, there is one thing that I am truly annoyed at… take a look! Anyways… congratulations RBR, Adrian Newey, Christian Horner and Sebastian Vettel! Job well done. FORZA FERRARI, next year is going to be a whole new ballgame!

  4. sw280 (@sw280) said on 25th November 2012, 19:17

    lucky, lucky, lucky boy… alonso and lewis drove better this year, I really thought there was going to be some poetic justice for nando today, but no.

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 25th November 2012, 20:54

      @SW280 Vettel was so lucky today. I’ll bet he was just praying for rain, dreaming of a first lap crash and hoping that Alonso would be gifted three places to put him on the podium. And how much more lucky can you get than to pit for slicks just before heavy rain starts falling – it’s like they had a crystal ball.

      Vettel only had one break today and that was that his collision wasn’t race ending, that aside it was almost as bad luck as could possibly be imagined.

      • yellow flags, twice on koby and then on a HRT.

        You cant claim he was unlucky.

      • Cosmas (@cosmas) said on 25th November 2012, 21:48

        @jerseyf1 ,You said it all. I totaly agree with you.
        Alonso had all the luck that someone could have today and people moaning because Vettel didn’t abandon the race after the accident. They even think he should have a penalty for passing kobayashi…. come on people Vettel drove today and in Abu dhabi the best races of the year and people still arguing that Alonso is unlucky…. WHO? Alonso ? His is the luckiest driver ever..who did Alonso overtook except his team mate today?

        • you clearly missed him passing webber then didnt u!! as well as others. seb drove great. was painfully lucky with the yellow flags.

          i wouldnt say lap one was luck. they built a strong car. so thats not luck and it was quick thinking from him to not panic. great driving.

          but you cant have a pop at alonso today. he did well.

          as did massa. staying on track with slicks in wet conditions was awesome!

          • David-A (@david-a) said on 26th November 2012, 1:05

            Felipe Massa looked like was reborn in the last few races! It’s great to see him getting back to his best (long overdue).

  5. Gosjean said on 25th November 2012, 19:19

    Does anyone else feel Vettel caused that first lap collision with Senna? He just closed the door on Senna and ended his race, possibly career. Feel that should have been investigated. Thanks Schumacher for showing us your disgusting streak by letting a German aside without any defense then using your usual guile to the non-Germans that followed

    • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th November 2012, 19:27

      On the flipside, Senna made an opportunistic move on Vettel, causing the contact.

      • Umm,how do i put this…no. SV did have a brilliant comeback drive,but to suggest that his driving didnt precipitate the 1st lap incident is plainly ridiculous. He’s been lucky,but did manage to make the most out of his luck. All champions do so…

        • David-A (@david-a) said on 26th November 2012, 0:24

          @chicanef1 – To believe it was 100% Vettel’s fault is also ridiculous. Okay, Vettel wasn’t blameless. It was a 2-into-1 scenario, and contact was made. But not worth a penalty as the poster above may have been insinuating.

          I agree on the comeback drive, and on maximising luck, being an asset of most champions.

        • Bob (@bobthevulcan) said on 26th November 2012, 2:02

          Haven’t been able to get any decent footage of the crash, but from what I remember (I may be wrong):
          – Senna tries down the inside of Vettel through Reta Oposta
          – Vettel’s car is still slightly ahead of Senna’s car as both drivers turn into Turn 4
          – Senna sticks to the inside line, believing that there is sufficient room to pass Vettel.
          – Vettel simultaneously closes the inside line, leaving some space, but not enough for Senna to pass through.
          – They make contact.

          In my opinion, it’s a simple racing incident. 60% Vettel’s fault for not leaving sufficient room on the inside for Senna, and to a certain extent, turning into the Williams driver. 40% Senna’s fault for trying an overly optimistic move, especially having seen that Vettel was going to try for the apex.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 25th November 2012, 19:36

      That was unnecessary from Shumacher, Vettel was faster than him anyway he was going to have him on the straight but instead he let him pass and then when Kobayashi was trying to overtake him he blocked him very aggressively

    • Schumacher was some +1 seconds a lap slower then Vettel at that point, surely he could have defended the position a lot harder, but what was he actually going to gain from it? That position was lost by the time Vettel caught him. Blocking Vettel would simply slow them both down and risk an accident, but Schumacher was still always going to loose that position. Defending would have gained him exactly nothing. Giving up the position at least minimized the risk of loosing it all on the floor.

      • Gosjean said on 25th November 2012, 20:22

        Note that kobayashi wasn’t far off Vettel pace and Schumacher blocked him strongly. The rb didn’t have great straight line speed and Vettel in the title battle would be cautious? I just think it was a bit classless. Webber would have dropped down anyway to give Vettel the place… so why even do it?

    • Cosmas (@cosmas) said on 25th November 2012, 22:26

      Senna was 3 places behind Vettel till the 4th corner. He tried to overtake 3 cars in one corner , how realistic could that move be? Even his great uncle wouldn’t manage that.
      He should at least be more careful not to ruin someones chances for the title… you think it would be fair for Vettel taking a penalty at that stage of the race? It would be like handing the title to Alonso. Even IF it was Vettels fault he was dead last after the incident , wasn’t that enough punishment ?

    • AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 26th November 2012, 20:49

      His career? First lap incident, nothing else to say.

  6. adri005 (@adri005) said on 25th November 2012, 19:22

    Bruno Senna please go watch the images of the onboard cam…

  7. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 25th November 2012, 19:31

    First of all Congratulations to the new Triple world Champion Sebastian Vettel who deserves 100% his third title after all the WDC is won by the driver who has more points,Congratulations to Fernando Alonso on his absolute fantastic spirit of a racer that made us wait until the final round to know who will become world champion ,due to the gap of 3 points many will accuse Grosjean of preventing Alonso the best driver on the grid from being a WDC which is true but it’s not the main reason of losing the championship
    This championship was lost in the last winter where the engineers in Maranello created an F2012 which was aerodynamically deficient a complex equation that they started to resolve only in the test of Mugello, and now they are assuming their aero choices+the misfunctioning of their wind tunnel
    It is very frustrating for all the tifosi to see Fernando losing the WDC in what i consider his best ever season in F1 in which he fought for every single point and delivered some phenomenal performances that will be remembered in the history of the sport but it is also a motive for Ferrari to give him a decent car next year just a decent one and he will do the job
    In the end thanks to keith Collantine and all the F1FANATICS for sharing with you this incredible season of Formula1

    • +1 and i also think that you deserve the COTD,tifoso!!!

    • JerseyF1 (@jerseyf1) said on 25th November 2012, 21:05

      Alonso did a great job to keep his title hopes alive until well into the last race of the season. However, I can’t help thinking that the efforts by Ferrari may have detracted from their 2013 car and with a poor baseline of a 2012 car that effort could be sorely missed. Will we see a similar story in 2013 with Ferrari playing catch-up after the first few races. With Massa showing an upturn in form that could also make his life more difficult next year too. With things really up in the air for 2014 too there is a risk that Alonso may one day look back on 2010 and 2012 as his missed opportunities to add a third WDC.

    • @tifoso – and I say back commiserations to Alonso. He’s has driven superbly this season and it’s a real shame that he lost the world chmapionship. Both drivers have been superb this year and it bodes very well for the sport to have such a great competition between two of the sports all-time greats.

    • First of all Congratulations to the new Triple world Champion Sebastian Vettel who deserves 100% his third title

      @tifoso-I know those must be very hard words for you to write and big respect for you to write them! Alonso was mega this year. Hopefully next year both Redbull and Ferrari will be on equal footing from the start and throughout the year so we can see great champions fighting it out.

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 26th November 2012, 5:52

        I know those must be very hard words for you to write and big respect for you to write them! Alonso was mega this year. Hopefully next year both Redbull and Ferrari will be on equal footing from the start and throughout the year so we can see great champions fighting it out.

        @uan @tifoso1989 Agreed. Alonso has been excellent, and kudos for the comments.

    • Kimi4WDC said on 26th November 2012, 3:52

      Spot on mate.

    • Sundar SV (@ssvracing) said on 26th November 2012, 15:49

      I agree with every word mate. McLaren and Ferrari have let down their drivers big time.

  8. Todfod (@todfod) said on 25th November 2012, 19:34

    Congrats to Vettel. Whether he was the best driver or not doesn’t matter.. he got the WDC anyway.

    Fernando will be back next year.. an lets hope his team can match what he brings to the table.

  9. Chemakal said on 25th November 2012, 19:37

    Yet again I have to congratulate Adrian Newey. That car is not only fast it is undestructible. Fix the bloody wind tunnel Ferrari! Alonso deserves another tittle after his increadible seasson. 13 podiums, more than anyone, mostly starting from the back (P5-P8). Well deserved as most of drivers, managers, mechanics, professionals and journalist have agreed, from differents countries including Germany. Vamos Fer, you are the number one for many

  10. Wow, incredibile. I think it’s quite clear that I am a Vettel supporter since 2008, and seeing him winning so much makes me very very happy. Three championships in a row, that’s a lot, I would have never expected something like it. Only three drivers, sorry, legends have done better than him

    People may not like Seb, maybe they say he is lucky that he has a fast car, but I believe that in these three years he has proven to be a true champion, worthy of his number of championship.

    • Lachie (@lachie) said on 26th November 2012, 0:52

      Only three drivers, sorry, legends have done better than him

      5 other drivers have won 3 world championships, one of which did so in a car he made himself, another of whom came back from the brink of death to almost win 4 and won one by half a point, and yet another of whom is more or less the greatest driver the sport has seen who gave his life to it.

      Vettel is a somewhat skilled right-time right-place lucky minnow in very rarefied air.

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 26th November 2012, 1:11

        Looking at his drives over the last 5 years, from the dominant ones, to the hard fought ones, it’s fair to say he’s much more than “somewhat skilled”. He has a long career ahead of him, but he is currently worthy of being amongst those you’ve mentioned.

  11. Congrats to Vettel, hard luck to Alonso. Both of them have driven great this year. However I still feel that Lewis Hamilton has been the best driver this season, this year is up there with 2007 as his best season and I hope this is reflected in future generations recollection of this season. They shouldn’t go by stats alone, after being brought down a peg or two by Button’s perfomance last year Hamilton really raised his game this year. The record books will show he beat Jenson by only 2 points, but add in those 4 extra races Hamilton should have won but didn’t through no fault of his own in Catalunya, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and today and it would be a completely different story. Apart from being slow off the line in Australia I can’t really think of any mistakes he has made, and it is a shame Mclaren’s performance didn’t match his high level. Vettel was scrappy early on in the year and even in these final few races when the pressure has been on he has been making mistakes, such as in Abu Dhabi and today that he was lucky to get away with. And in the last 7 or 8 races I would say that Felipe Massa has been the better Ferrari driver, despite the incredible results Alonso got at the start of the season.

    • Dom (@3dom) said on 25th November 2012, 19:51

      Hamilton really raised his game this year. The record books will show he beat Jenson by only 2 points, but add in those 4 extra races Hamilton should have won but didn’t through no fault of his own in Catalunya, Singapore, Abu Dhabi and today and it would be a completely different story

      got to agree @debaser91 he was far superior to jenson this year and the points really don’t tell the full story

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 26th November 2012, 1:14

        I agree as well, @3dom and @debaser91 . Button has outperformed my expectations (I thought he would be totally destroyed by Hamilton), but Hamilton has usually been better, especially this year. Button also had that bad patch between Bahrain and Britain.

  12. what should Vettel do to be appreciated by some people??
    Alonso was the luckiest driver this season and simply the better driver won it at then end…

    • Lachie (@lachie) said on 26th November 2012, 0:57

      For me, at this stage I’m afraid there’s nothing Vettel can do. For the past three years the Newey-Red Bull-Vettel combination has made a mockery of the sport and I don’t appreciate the field looking like a bunch of morons while someone else plays on easy.

      Congratulations to Vettel on three championships. It will most likely be four in a years time.

  13. juergen (@juergen) said on 25th November 2012, 19:49

    Alonso did a magnificent race start. The Hulk dissapointed me and Vettel got really lucky being able to continue after his accident. The kid is good, but it was out of Alonso’s hands after his misfortune with Grosjean and so on. I am not happy with Vettel’s title to be honest. But it is what it is. Congrats to Seb.

  14. MaroonJack (@maroonjack) said on 25th November 2012, 19:50

    @keithcollantine I just noticed this article is posted as “2012 United States Grand Prix” ;)

  15. Ben (@benchuiii) said on 25th November 2012, 19:53

    Second time in 3 race that Vettel has come from the back and still people are saying he is lucky because of safety cars, suspension not breaking etc. Before this they were saying something along the lines of “he can only win from pole and we have yet to see what happens when he is at the back” I think we all have seen how he fares. Seriously, what does he need to do to be on par with Alonso and Hamilton? In fact, I think that the McLaren simply cannot withstand as much damage as the Red Bulls or Ferraris. Not just today, but Italy/Singapore 2010 vs Spa 2010 (where Barrichello crashed into Alonso) as well. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing for Vettel and give him credit where its due instead of constantly picking out every minor fault he makes.

    • Brace (@brace) said on 25th November 2012, 20:11

      Well that’s exactly why I don’t respect Seb as much as I do Alonso and Hamilton.

      Each time he had to come from the back he made complete mess of it, and the fact that even with those mistakes he made, he was able to get a good result, just shows you how much pace that car has.

      When Alonso came from the back in Valencia, he was sublime, his overtaking moves on the absolute edge, but never crossing it. Vettel on the other hand, made a complete mess of his races each time he had to race hard in the middle of the pack.

      • David-A (@david-a) said on 25th November 2012, 21:22

        @brace – Just because Vettel made a couple of mistakes, doesn’t mean Vettel made a “complete mess” of his recovery drives. Today, he didn’t actually make any mistakes after lap 1. He had to make up a series of positions in a short space of time, both here and in Belgium (where he didn’t make any mistakes either), and he did so.

        Perhaps the fact that Vettel kept coming back and wouldn’t accept a poor result in Abu Dhabi, plus the other recovery drives, shows how determined he is, and that is why he has those podiums and the championship to show for it. His drives should have thoroughly earned at least as much respect as his peers.

      • F1fanNL (@) said on 25th November 2012, 21:53


        What mistakes has Vettel made this race? Collision with Senna? Sure, maybe he was at fault there. Slow at the restart? Yes, but that’s hardly a mistake. At least it wasn’t when Alonso had those in Abu Dhabi, was it? But of course those rules don’t apply to Alonso when judging a drive.
        So that leaves what? Vettel’s storm through the field in about 10 laps time? Not really Vettel ‘making a complete mess of it’ there…
        His radio failing perhaps? Not really his fault is it.
        One unnecesary pitstop? The result of no radio communciation.
        Getting back to 6th from 12th after the double pitstop? No, that’s not Vettel ‘making a complete mess of it’ either.

        When Alonso came from the back in Valencia, he was sublime, his overtaking moves on the absolute edge, but never crossing it.

        Going from 11th and 7th after the start to 2nd is now coming from the back, huh? O.K.

        And Alonso this race? One superb start but other than that he showed nothing impressive all race. Massa was faster again for most of the race and helped Alonso quite a bit. He was only ‘slower’ when Alonso got directly behind him or when drivers capable of threatening Alonso got behind Massa. Then Alonso went off twice in the same corner and ‘forgot’ to pit and almost spun off the track.

        So on the one hand we have Vettel ‘making a complete mess of it’ by coming through the field in no time at all and on the other hand we have Alonso making mistakes left and right even though “he’s on a wet setup” and “would benefit greatly from rain”…

        These past few races have shown me Alonso has been hyped up to be something he’s not. He’s consistent and lucky, he’s not the best driver in F1. He struggled to outpace Massa these last few races. That’s not impressive at all. I’ve seen plenty of impressive races from Alonso. This wasn’t one of them.

        • Cosmas (@cosmas) said on 25th November 2012, 23:01

          Yeap, Alonso twice outbraked in 1st corner with no pressure at all and one time at the end he almost spun it to the barriers ( i think it was where Di resta spun).
          How flawless someone is , is not the only criterion for making a judgment if he is a good driver or not. Hamilton does a lot of mistakes does this makes him a bad driver? Karthikeyan when he drives ALONE in the back doesn’t make usually any mistakes , does this make him a good driver?
          What i am trying to say is that even the best drivers are HUMANS and make mistakes when they drive on the limit because exactly they drive on the limit and sometime over the limit. What makes a great driver is minimizing the risks of a potential mistake not taking the risk where it isn’t reversible and trying to correct it, try to gain what you have lost due to this mistake.
          Vettel maybe was lucky that he could continue after the collision (which i am not so sure it was his mistake) but his luck ended there. Everything he managed afterwards was only due to his skill and not luck. He managed for the second time this year to overtake almost the whole grid TWICE , and this time without the SC favoriting him but instead Alonso.

      • @brace – Alonso made a mess of Valencia before the race had even started: by qualifying 11th. Through no partiuclar fault of his own Vettel was demoted to last (on both occasions at least 10 places further back than 11th) and came through to gain 20 places in Abu Dhabi (ignoring the stalled HRT which started behind him) and gained 18 places in Brazil (even with a damaged car with all but no straight line speed and two pit stops in quick succession, one of which lasted 12 secs).

        If you are citing Alonso’s sublime overtaking manoeuvres then tell me this: how many actual overtakes for position did Alonso actually perform? It wasn’t 10 for sure. He gained three places at the start which in my mind doesn’t constitute a racing overtake, and also Vettel’s failure gifted him a crucial position so it’s already down to 6. Then we factor in positions gained in the safety pit-stop phase and the number continues to decrease.

        Sure, he made some good overtakes but Vettel made some pretty tasty ones too: such as his wheel-to-wheel combat with Button for podium positions in Abu Dhabi or his late braking on KK in tricky conditions.

        I think the best comparison between the two is probably Valencia vs Belgium. Both started in a similar grid position after a disappointing qualifying and both were in a roughly similar position by the end of the first lap (actually with Alonso having gained more places at the start). Both fought very well wheel-to-wheel in cars which were of about equal race pace relative to the opposition and both came through the field to take a podium place.

        Basically, I testify Alonso was brilliant in Valencia – but if you are then also trying to put down Vettel’s races from the back then you are one of the people that will remain in denial for as long as Vettel races, no matter how many titles and races he excels in.

    • Dom (@3dom) said on 25th November 2012, 21:49

      Seriously, what does he need to do to be on par with Alonso and Hamilton?

      I have actually changed my perception of Vettel after this season @benchuiii , I feel he is in the same league as Alonso and Hamilton. I think it was Spa where I started to change my mind (even though a few of the drivers that may have been harder to pass were taken out on lap 1). I also changed my opinion on Alonso, what he did with that Ferrari this season was remarkable, that’s why I wanted him to win the WDC over Vettel. But overall I’m not too disappointed because they’re both great drivers. I believe Vettel is lucky, and that Alonso is as well but when they have a lucky moment boy do they take advantage of it, and that’s part of what makes them both great

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