Vettel wins as Webber waves goodbye with second

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix review

Sebastian Vettel never let anyone else have a look in as he completed a perfect second half of the 2013 season.

Vettel heads into the off-season undefeated since the summer break, during which time he has won a record-equalling nine consecutive race.

Team mate Mark Webber joined him on the podium as he said an emotional farewell to Formula One after 12 years of competition.

Rosberg’s brief lead

Start, Interlagos, 2013After two days of almost uninterrupted rain, the drivers were in the dark about tyre strategy for a race which started in dry conditions.

When the lights went out Mercedes seized the initiative – but only temporarily. From the front row of the grid Nico Rosberg beat Vettel to turn one and, unlike in Singapore, kept the Red Bull behind him as they plunged downhill through the Senna S.

Behind him Lewis Hamilton appeared in third having demoted the other slow-starting Red Bull of Mark Webber as well as Fernando Alonso. But both Mercedes drivers seemed to have a shaky grasp on their positions, Vettel and Alonso shadowing them symmetrically from corner to corner.

As they tackled the climb from Juncao for the first time Vettel deployed his remaining KERS and beat Rosberg to the finishing line by two hundredths of a second. Behind them Alonso had also nosed in front of Hamilton as lap two began. Alonso didn’t dither behind the other Mercedes either – by lap four he was up into second place.

The Mercedes drivers were struggling with traction and Webber, clearly revelling in being able to start a race on new tyres for a change, caught and passed the pair of them. After breaking clear of Rosberg on lap seven he was almost matching his team mate’s pace and soon arrived on Alonso’s tail.

Webber was at his battling best in his final F1 start. On lap 13 he overtook the Ferrari and Red Bull were running first and second.

Hamilton waved past

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2013Rosberg was struggling more with his rear tyres than team mate Hamilton. By lap eight the pair were under pressure from Felipe Massa, the trio covered by just 1.2 seconds.

“If you have a problem with the tyres don’t hold up Lewis,” race engineer Tony Ross advised Rosberg on the radio. But with Massa looming he was soon ushered aside with the instruction: “Nico we’d like you to let Lewis through, we think you might be holding him up.”

Four laps after Rosberg waved Hamilton by, Massa breached his defences and was through into fifth, though Hamilton had used the intervening period to build up a 2.5-second cushion.

Massa made little impression on that before pitting on lap 19, but two quick laps before Hamilton’s pit stop allowed him to jump ahead of the Mercedes.

Massa fumes at penalty

Felipe Massa, Ferrari, Interlagos, 2013The pit lane entrance at Interlagos has long been a cause for concern as drivers approach the divide between the track and the pit lane at close to top speed. For this year’s race drivers were warned more than once not to cross the triangular area before the pit entrance with all four wheels to shorten the line around the corner.

After Massa moved in front of Hamilton and Rosberg, both drivers pointed out he was not obeying the instruction. “Our drivers had been reporting that Felipe was consistently crossing the white line at pit entry with all four wheels,” confirmed team principal Ross Brawn.

“We have a message again, please watch the pit entry,” Rob Smedley warned Massa at one stage. “Please don’t cross the pit entry with all four wheels.”

Shortly afterwards came word from the stewards that Massa was being investigated, and a penalty quickly followed. “OK mate unfortunately we have a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line at the entry to the pit lane,” said Smedley. “So there you go.”

Massa, who had been on course for a strong result in his final race for Ferrari on home ground, angrily calling the decision “unbelievable” and “unacceptable”, and shook his hand in frustration when he appeared in the pits to serve his penalty on lap 34.

He continued his criticism after the race and team principal Stefano Domenicali chimed in, calling the penalty “a bit extreme and forced” and adding “I don?t think Felipe?s move gave him any advantage”.

Hamilton and Bottas tangle

Lewis Hamilton, Mercedes, Interlagos, 2013While one Ferrari had slipped backwards the other was moving forwards – temporarily, at least.

Red Bull were unable to replicate Webber’s sub-two-second pit stop from the United States Grand Prix when he arrived in the pits on lap 23. Not only that, but he endured one of the slowest of the race, stationary for over five seconds, allowing Alonso to jump back ahead of him.

It didn’t last long, however – after just two laps Webber was through again, though Alonso did what he could to retaliate in the second DRS zone.

Halfway through the race Webber enjoyed a five-and-a-half second margin over the Ferrari driver. But with rain threatening Red Bull were in no hurry to make their second pit stops.

Valtteri Bottas was one of the first drivers to make his second pit stop, coming in on lap 41. On his first lap out of the pits he took over a second off Hamilton, who was directly in front of him on the track but a lap ahead.

As lap 46 began Bottas was close enough to Hamilton to be able to use DRS. Hamilton caught sight of the Williams bearing down on him on the back straight and moved off-line to cover the inside of the corner.

But as he moved back towards the racing line he hadn’t realised how quickly the Williams was bearing down on him. The pair made contact rear wheel to rear wheel, which fired Bottas off the track and out of the race, and left Hamilton limping into the pits with a puncture.

An unhappy Bottas told his team on the radio “Lewis turned into me” and the stewards evidently shared that view, as they handed Hamilton a drive-through penalty for causing a collision. “We have to take that one on the chin,” Brawn rued afterwards, “we should have kept Lewis better informed of just how quickly the Williams was closing, even though he was a lap down.”

Red Bull’s pit drama

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013The collision between Bottas and Hamilton had other repercussions. Red Bull, alert to the threat of the Safety Car, called both their drivers in. They were separated by 12.5 seconds at the time and the team have successfully performed stacked stops within tighter margins – as at Monza.

But on this occasion Vettel’s tyres weren’t ready in time. He’d only got the call to pit as he rounded Juncao – the last real corner before the pit lane – and in scene familiar from last year’s nail-biting championship conclusion he sat waiting for his new front-right wheel to appear.

“Arguably the team was on the limit and obviously they were preparing a stop for both cars so they had to get both set of tyres out, mine and Mark?s,” said Vettel afterwards. “I think it was just a little bit of a rush, because I think the team was afraid of a Safety Car.”

Meanwhile his team mate was bearing down on him. “I looked on the big screen and I could see that Seb was in the box, saw on the TV that he was pitting and I thought ??I hope it?s a replay?,” said Webber.

“But it wasn?t. When I got over the top, he was in the bloody box so I thought ‘shit, we?ve got a bit on here now’.”

Vettel’s pit stop was the slowest of the race, costing him around eight seconds, and Webber also lost half as much. But this time at least he was able to leave the pits ahead of Alonso, who Ferrari brought in on the same lap.

McLaren seize the initiative

The setbacks for Massa and Hamilton played into McLaren’s hands – as did the battle between Ferrari and Mercedes for second in the constructors’ championship.

As the second pit stops approached Rosberg was edging closer to Button with Massa not far behind both of them. But when Massa and Button pitted together on lap 42 Mercedes took the prudent decision to bring Rosberg in on the next lap to keep him ahead of Massa instead of trying to jump Button.

Rosberg was happy with that call from the pit wall. “We could have cleared Jenson in the pits but it was better for us to be conservative and focus on our battle with Ferrari,” he said.

In the final stint Massa no longer had the performance edge over the Mercedes and was also unable to close on Perez. That left him a disappointed seventh at the flag – and Domenicali ruing the consequences of the drive-through penalty: “With the points he could have scored the outcome of the constructors? championship could have been different,” he said. Ferrari ended the season six points behind Mercedes.

Behind Massa the remaining points places were filled by Nico Hulkenberg, who struggled with understeer, Hamilton and Daniel Ricciardo.

Charles Pic’s demise due to suspension failure and Giedo van der Garde’s drive-through penalty for failing to heed blue flags ended Caterham’s hopes of beating Marussia to tenth in the championship, though they never looked like scoring the requisite 13th place.

Vettel’s victory, Webber’s farewell

Mark Webber, Red Bull, Interlagos, 2013Alonso kept Webber honest as the final stint began and the pair gradually caught Vettel at this point, reducing his lead to just over five seconds at one point. But Vettel increased the tempo long before his position at the head of the field looked like it might be in jeopardy.

Rain had threatened earlier in the race and returned again in the closing laps but never grew intense enough even for intermediate tyres to become a serious option. After the final shower abated Alonso slipped back quickly from Webber.

Vettel completed a perfect second half of the 2013 season with his ninth consecutive victory. It’s an achievement that puts him on a par with Alberto Ascari, though he played down the comparison with the only other F1 driver to do so.

Vettel’s relationship with his team mate has never been what you would call warm, but on the podium Vettel passed the spotlight onto Webber who, draped in the Australian flag, was soaking up the atmosphere having signed off from F1 with a fine podium finish.

Moments earlier he had savoured the drive back to the pits, removing his crash helmet so he could better hear the roar of his V8 engine, something else the sport will have to make do without next year.

“Obviously the marshals, the fans, to see… in this sport, it?s not always easy to show the person that’s behind the wheel,” said Webber. “We can in lots of other sports but in Formula One we?ve always got the helmet on so it was nice to drive back with the helmet off.”

“Only time you?re seen with the helmet off is on the podium if we have a good day which we did both, so nice to get it off.”

“In the last sector, I got it a little bit jammed, so I think the marshals were a little bit worried that I couldn?t turn left but in the end, no it was fine, it was a nice moment to come back, a little bit of a different touch to bring the car back.”

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix

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Images ?? Daimler/Hoch Zwei, Ferrari/Ercole Colombo, Red Bull/Getty

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46 comments on Vettel wins as Webber waves goodbye with second

  1. Chad (@chaddy) said on 25th November 2013, 2:57

    Helmets should be optional

  2. HoHum (@hohum) said on 25th November 2013, 3:03

    Webber showed he is still able to mix it with the best and still able to set fast laps so he is definitely leaving F1 on his own terms, I hope we in Australia will next year be able to watch (on FTA TV) his career with Porsche.

  3. Thecollaroyboys (@thecollaroyboys) said on 25th November 2013, 3:51

    A nice touch to go without a helmet, thanks Mark. And I agree with @hohum, please someone start showing the WEC races live – or delayed – or highlights – anything really.

  4. MNM101 (@mnm101) said on 25th November 2013, 4:08

    Seb actually led every lap, so Mark denied him a Grand Chelem by setting fastest lap

  5. Sumedh said on 25th November 2013, 4:33

    “Obviously the marshals, the fans, to see… in this sport, it’s not always easy to show the person that’s behind the wheel,” said Webber. “We can in lots of other sports but in Formula One we’ve always got the helmet on so it was nice to drive back with the helmet off.”

    “Only time you’re seen with the helmet off is on the podium if we have a good day which we did both, so nice to get it off.”

    I hope FIA takes note of this and allows drivers to do this at end of every race. In every other sport, you get to see the driver in action, except Formula One. Now, I am not advocating drivers do whole races like this. But at least let them do it at the end of the races.
    Even now, if you see the steering wheel onboards of Singapore GP, you can make out much more of the driver’s face than in other races. And it looks awesome!! Improves the human element of Formula One.

    • Chad (@chaddy) said on 25th November 2013, 5:28

      I disagree, I think it’s a gesture that should be reserved for a retirement after a reasonably long career.

    • Diego (@ironcito) said on 25th November 2013, 5:58

      Driving without a helmet is very dangerous, even during a victory lap. Something seemingly insignificant as a piece of rubber picked up by a nearby car could hit him in the eye and cause damage. It’s understandable in a situation like today was for Webber, but it’s not something to do normally. There are plenty of opportunities to see the drivers’ faces safely.

      • True, this. We went go-karting with my family, and my sister lifted her visor during the cool down lap. When we got home, she complained her eye was constantly watering, and had to into casualty to have a small piece of metal removed before it caused a (potentially very dangerous) eye infection.

        • Diego (@ironcito) said on 25th November 2013, 18:01

          Metal shavings in the eye are nasty because they scratch the eye with every blink and every movement of the eye. Having a metal shaving in the eye, you tend to blink a lot, so it’s a vicious eye-destroying circle.

      • Something seemingly insignificant as a piece of rubber

        Or a spring

      • Breno (@austus) said on 25th November 2013, 17:44

        Something seemingly insignificant as a piece of rubber

        Or a spring

        Or exploding Pirellis.

      • nackavich (@nackavich) said on 26th November 2013, 4:37

        Agreed. I loved the sentiment on this occasion, but since Formula 1 cars are usually on the limit in terms of performance, what would’ve happened if his car broke down or had an oil fire or something? Not only cold he risk getting facial burns but also a fire extinguisher to the face.

        But still, I loved watching it!

  6. BasCB (@bascb) said on 25th November 2013, 8:09

    No mention of Lotus’ Grosjean seeing his Renault give up 60 laps before retirement age Keith? I think if not for that he would have figured in the race too.

    Apart from that, another nice read. I repeat that I really like these thorough race reports you have been doing all year, I hope you keep up with them.

  7. I liked Rob Smedley’s comment regarding Massa, “there are times i just want to punch him in the face”. He must be getting into the Kimi Raikkonen mindset in preparation for next year.

  8. Andy (@turbof1) said on 25th November 2013, 9:49

    Just a small tribute to Vettel for adding that little bit of show by doing donuts after the race. F1 generally has been very stiff the last few years, with either safety and/or reliability of materials holding such acts back. Vettel kind of changed it a bit for alteast the last couple of races: other drivers follow him in making donuts, or doing other ‘crazy’ stuff like taking helmets off while still driving around. The main shouild of course be the race itself and everything around that, but such off-race entertainment can only be good for the image of F1. I hope the FIA picks up on that too, and does not only take a more tolerant view on this, but also encourages it in the future.

    • D (@f190) said on 25th November 2013, 11:33

      I dont think we’ll see it next year due to the new engines. Maybe at the end of the season but ill miss the donuts and extra celebrations weve seen in the last few races.

    • JohnH (@johnrkh) said on 25th November 2013, 12:50

      Kimi Räikkönen and Lewis Hamilton have done doughnuts at the end of F1 races previously, Vettel is not breaking new ground in this.
      If you are referring to Webber removing his helmet at end of the Brazilian GP on Sunday I believe that Webber would have removed his helmet irrespective of what Vettel has done or not done in the past.
      I will give Vettel this due as a great driver but his influence over the post race actions of current drivers would be negligible at most.

      Vettel has given us the finger :)

      • MattDS said on 25th November 2013, 14:13

        “Vettel has given us the finger”

        Sadly, he doesn’t seem to be using it anymore as a trademark sign. I might not have paid enough attention but I don’t think I saw the finger yesterday. And even if it was there, he sure isn’t using it as much as before.

        I think that’s a real shame. It was his thing, but apparently people just couldn’t take it, to the point he’s now stopped doing things he like because of general opinion.

  9. D (@f190) said on 25th November 2013, 11:44

    Id just like to thank seb for the money you made me this season :) after Hungry I got some great odds on vettel winning all the races in the second half of the season. I wasnt sure but went with it and now im so glad I did.

  10. Alex Bkk (@alex-bkk) said on 25th November 2013, 11:51

    G’bye Mark, and thanks for the memories.

  11. MattiM (@mattim) said on 25th November 2013, 20:19

    Did anyone notice the ruthlessness with which Vettel jumped his teammate to pit stop 2? Obviously it was Mark’s turn, but Vettel must have decided that it is in his best interest to go first. The stop has cost Webber more than Vettel.

    Vettel seems like a nice guy, but he is constantly defying team orders. Malaysia was a case in point, but he very often goes fastest, when he isn’t meant to, changes settings to go faster.

    My point is that he is as determined to do everything necessary as Schumacher was. This is the mark of true greatness.

    • JohnH (@johnrkh) said on 25th November 2013, 22:31

      So your saying Vettel purposely made a decision to wreck Webber’s chances of winning? Thats a big call and how would that make Vettel a true great?

    • Feuerdrache (@xenomorph91) said on 25th November 2013, 22:53

      @mattim: They decided to take both cars in because of the potential danger of Safety Car coming out.

      • MattiM (@mattim) said on 25th November 2013, 23:23

        yes but I believe Vettel took the decision to come in one lap sooner than expected by himself, because he knew if the safety car came out then and there, his wace would be ruined. So he jumped Mark Webber to ensure his own advantage.

        You have got to admire that split second decision making, I think.

        • MattDS said on 26th November 2013, 7:50

          I don’t think Vettel decided anything on his own there. There was a definite SC risk and RBR just called both in. They had enough time between the both to service each without impeding another, had it not been for that wheel that went AWOL.

        • Vettel said that he was asked if he could come in immediately because of the danger of a safety car. And he was able to…

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 26th November 2013, 8:44

      @mattim

      Did anyone notice the ruthlessness with which Vettel jumped his teammate to pit stop 2? Obviously it was Mark’s turn, but Vettel must have decided that it is in his best interest to go first. The stop has cost Webber more than Vettel.

      That’s not what happened. As noted in the article the team called him in.

  12. Chad (@chaddy) said on 25th November 2013, 21:57

    How old was Grosjean’s engine?

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