Sebastian Vettel, Bernie Ecclestone, Interlagos, 2012

Vettel clinches drivers’ championship hat-trick

2012 Brazilian Grand PrixPosted on | Author Keith Collantine

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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Image ?? Red Bull/Getty images

237 comments on “Vettel clinches drivers’ championship hat-trick”

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

  2. 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. +1 and i also think that you deserve the COTD,tifoso!!!

    2. 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.

    3. @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.

    4. 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.

      1. 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.

    5. Spot on mate.

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

  3. 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.

  4. 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

  5. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. 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.

  6. 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.

    1. 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

      1. 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.

  7. 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…

    1. 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.

  8. 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.

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

  10. 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.

    1. 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.

      1. @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.

      2. @brace

        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.

        1. +++@F1fanNL,
          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.

      3. @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.

    2. 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

  11. Completely deserved for Vettel. So, at the start of next season it will have been six seasons since Alonso last won a world title – a long time in F1 terms.

    1. And only one driver had a similar gap before winning another title – Niki Lauda. And that was after coming back from retirement!

  12. Shame Alonso didn’t ask ‘How’s Nelsinho?’ on the podium…

    But really, in the end, I am ok with the outcome of today. Both had luck and misfortune, both outperformed the circumstances more than once and in the end, Vettel won this time.

    Goodbye Schumacher and goodbye Olav Mol – thanks for all the good times.

    1. @verstappen

      Shame Alonso didn’t ask ‘How’s Nelsinho?’ on the podium…

      hahaha that was funny…..
      or maybe Piquet saying to Alonso : Nelsinho sends you his regards and feels sorry you lost the title?

  13. Congratulations to Vettel/Redbull, now its time for Redbull to relegate Vettel to No. 2 position and let Webber win championship in 2013 (prolly his last year in F1) :P

    Alonso needed a lot of luck today and to be honest he got his fare share of luck but it wasn’t just enough! And I really liked the way he replied to Nelson Piquet on podium. But it would be so frustrating for Alonso to not able to win championship yet again by such a small margin:
    Year 2007 1. Kimi Räikkönen – 110 2. Fernando Alonso – 109 | 1 point
    Year 2010 1. Sebastian Vettel – 256 2. Fernando Alonso – 252 | 4 points
    Year 2012 1. Sebastian Vettel – 281 2. Fernando Alonso – 278 | 3 points

    1. 2005 and 2008.

      It all balances out in the end.

  14. Congratulations to Vettel’s fans (and to Vettel himself, though I doubt he will be booting up his laptop tonight to check the comments on F1F), who have had a tough time occasionally defending from his detractors (e.g., “he’s just lucky to be driving an Adrian Newey car”), in particular @david-a, who I think takes up the gauntlet at every Vettel-dismissive comment. I think Vettel thoroughly deserves his third title, and drives like Spa, Abu Dhabi and the first part of today’s race shows that he can make things happen for himself on the racetrack.

    Today, people might point to Vettel’s luck in surviving the first-lap incident (which was lucky, of course), but Alonso has been lucky all season. In how many races has Fernando benefited from people retiring or running into trouble in front of him? Even today he wouldn’t have been on the required podium if it hadn’t been for the leaders colliding. Alonso has driven a terrific season, but I do not see why he would be a ‘more deserving’ champion than Vettel.

  15. Danke Schön Vettel! Thoroughly deserved!
    But in 2013, it’ll be Kimi’s turn…

  16. Well done Newey! Once again you did it!
    I’m not saying Vettel is not good, but come on, he may very well start in lap 2 and still win the race. What does this mean? Well, either RBR is not an F1 car, or the rest of the field is poor. Since the second posibility is obviously not true (Alonso, Hamilton, Button and their teams are not poor competitors), the 1st supposition must be true. That’s my opinion. RBR was playing almost all season long in a different league.
    Vettel won this championship by a very thin margin; however it was a consistent difference between RBR and Ferrari. It means Alonso was better that Vettel this season.
    I guess Sir Jackie Stewart (“Vettel not a great yet”), Alonso (“we’re fighting with Newey”) and Jacques Villeneuve were all right.

    1. @daniel – you can’t say he had a car advantage: he had significant damage to his floor which would surely cost him at least 3 tenths, if not more, per lap. I think it was due to the changeable conditions and Vettel’s wet driving skill that allowed him to finish where he did after the first lap.

      One could also argue (and I am going to) that in actual fact McLaren had the best car this season. I think that was respective from the fact they’ve locked out the front row 3 times – as many as Red Bull – even with Jenson’s mid-season slump and traditionally weak qualifying. No-one had the clearly the fastest car this year and also Ferrari didn’t have as bad a car for a large part of the season as Alonso has liked to believe.

    2. @daniel
      Soo..tell me. Who had the fastest car this weekend? Who had the fastest car in Spain (not Valencia), Australia, Hungary, Belgium, China etc. (I don’t list all the races, I’m sure Keith will write an article about that).
      Red Bull was far from being in a league of his own. You could have said that in 2010 and even in 2011, but absolutely not this year.

    3. The title decided in ONE race the last one. In a race in mixed conditions which ferrari was prepared for and wished for. The car factor in this race was less significant than usually and the driver factor more significant then usually. This is proved from Hulkenbergs and Massas performance. Webber was stuck behind Massa and Vettel behind Kobayashi , red bull was the superior car today? Wasn’t that the mclaren of Button who managed to open in half race distance 60sec gap?
      Alonso was lucky to get rid of grosjean and maldonado in quallify and hulkenberg and Hamilton in the race, even his gap to the leader was zeroed due to the safety car . He had only one pass to make to take the championship and he didn’t make it , he was even slower then Massa. The only noteworthy Alonso did was his good start as it was in Austin , nothing more.

    4. Bob (@bobthevulcan)
      26th November 2012, 2:14

      RBR was playing almost all season long in a different league.

      As has been said, the McLaren was probably the fastest car this year – fastest in Australia, Malaysia, Hungary, Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Abu Dhabi, Austin, Brazil. The RB8 only came into its own in the later stages of the season

  17. Today was a fantastic race. Brazil never fails to disappoint with its title deciders and this race reminded me so much of the race in 2008. I don’t doubt that Vettel drove very well today, but I still feel for Alonso. He drove so incredibly well this year, in a car that shouldn’t have been fighting at the front, but was in his hands. Not only that, but both Alonso and Ferrari did everything they could today to win the title, just as they did with Massa in 2008, but both times just fell short.

    That shot of Alonso after the race, with his helmet on told it all. I believe there was no better driver this year, and even though Vettel had claims to the title, Alonso still deserved it.

    I think a lot has been learned this year as well:

    – A fast car doesn’t ensure the Championship. For next year, they need to be ruthless and perfect, even if just for half of the season. For me, the logical solution would be to develop the car around Jenson and see how they go from there. It will be their best chance.

    – They may have Alonso, but they need to sort out their problems. To squander another year in the development shadow of both McLaren and Red Bull would be really sad to see, considering how much Alonso has pushed them forwards this year.

    Red Bull:
    – I don’t think they’ve learned anything this year. I imagine it will be tough to beat them next year, unless McLaren and Ferrari can be just as seamless as they were from Singapore onwards.

    I already can’t wait for the 2013 season. As long as Red Bull don’t find another developmental route that gives them a pace advantage (aka 2010/2011) then we could be in for another great year.

    1. I think McLaren hired Perez just for that reason. If the car was fast then Button couldn’t handle it and if the car was stable then Hamilton couldn’t go fast. Button and Perez seem like more similar drivers. Both seem content trying to make their tyres last as long as possible.

      Although I wonder if that still is the best way to go (like it was early to mid 2010)

      1. Drop Valencia!
        25th November 2012, 23:45

        Both seem content trying to make their tyres last as long as possible.
        by getting knocked out in Q2…

    2. I don’t believe Red Bull haven’t learned anything this year – I suspect they will have worked hard to put what they have learned about the new exhaust layouts into the initial design of their 2013 challenger and no doubt it will push the boundaries of what’s possible and what’s allowable once again.

  18. Gutted for Alonso but congratulations to Vettel and Red Bull.

  19. Congratulations to Sebastian. It was a fantastic drive in testing conditions, and a thoroughly deserved championship win. Yet, you can’t escape the feeling that Alonso has done more with less. The Ferrari has been off the pace almost all year, yet Alonso’s consistency has kept him in the hunt until this point. I’m sure he’ll be thereabouts next season, however the field shakes up.

    As for the race itself, I feel gutted for Hamilton. I don’t feel that the accident was anyone’s fault (in those conditions, these things happen), but I so wanted him to finish his McLaren career on a high. Great for Jenson, though, and for Hulkenburg — I feel Sauber have a major talent on their hands there.

    1. That accident wasn’t anyones fault? Hamilton braked later than late and locked up his wheels. Yet Hulkenberg braked even later and predictably spun off.

      I’m a great fan of the guy, but that was a completely boneheaded move from Hulkenberg. He pretty much had the spot already and still messed it up. Let alone that he needn’t have taken such a big risk when a second place would have meant so much for the team already.

      Just look how Raikkonen and Schumacher did it. That was just pure magic. Millimeters away from each other. Goosebumps.

      Still, Hulkenberg should get a better car. I rate him a lot higher than people like Perez, Webber or Massa.

      1. @patrickl, probably it was more Hulkenbergs fault but still a racing incident in my view. Hulkenbergs move was very clumsy for his experience but if Hamilton had kept a more open trajectory maybe this had been avoided since he couldn’t go nowhere anyway because he had the caterham right in front of him. This was very superficial from both of them as it was also before between Button and Hamilton.
        Mclaren fought not only for the win but also for the second position in the constructors and they had the perfect position for the team , the maximum potential result and they let there drivers gamble’it. That collision was avoided but thinks didn’t go there way with Hulk. Sad for Hamilton, who even with a second place could had given a nice end to his mclaren partnership.

        1. @cosmas that’s what I love about McLaren, Button and Hamilton – they’ve fought really hard over the years but with the exception of Canada 11 never crashed. Some great racing.

  20. A thrilling finale to a classic season. The eyes of Alonso when looking at the cheering Vettel – painful and unforgettable. The fastest driver won the title, there is no place for a debate here. Congratz to Vettel.

    1. Alonso was facing in the direction of the pit box while Vettel was running onto the track. Looked more like he was thinking “what could have been” rather than that he was actually looking at something.

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