Sebastian Vettel extended his winning streak to nine races after winning the 2013 season finale in Brazil.
It was Red Bull’s second one-two finish in three races after Mark Webber finished second. The Australian signed off from Formula One in the best possible way after enjoying a long battle with Fernando Alonso. Webber finished just over ten seconds behind his team mate, with Alonso taking third.
Despite Alonso’s podium, Ferrari just missed out on claiming second place in the constructors’ championship following a drive through penalty for Felipe Massa. The Brazilian, who was taking part in his final race for Ferrari, was running as highly as fourth before been given a penalty for cutting the pit lane entry line.
Ferrari’s rivals Mercedes claimed second in the championship by a mere six points despite a difficult race for both drivers. Nico Rosberg, started on the front row of the grid and briefly took the lead away from Vettel. Team mate Lewis Hamilton was on the move too, gaining a position and taking fourth on the opening laps.
Rosberg’s time in the lead was short lived, as Vettel repassed him on the main straight to start lap two. Hamilton would be demoted by Webber, with Rosberg losing additional places to both Alonso and Webber soon after. Webber then passed Alonso to make it a Red Bull one-two.
Nico Rosberg held off McLaren’s Sergio Perez to finish in fifth place, with Lewis Hamilton recovering from a drive through penalty to finish ninth. The British driver was deemed to have caused a collision after moving over on Valtteri Bottas in the second DRS zone. The Williams driver had been attempting to unlap himself when the collision took place, which resulted in his left rear tyre parting company with the car.
Hamilton, who was running in fourth at the time, didn’t emerge unscathed either and had to limp back to the pits with a puncture. He would later be given a penalty which dropped him to as low as twelve, before he fought back to finish in the points.
The Hamilton/Bottas collision caused a flurry of pit stops from the leaders. Fearing a possible safety car, Red Bull brought both its drivers into the pits only to see Vettel suffer a delay through the mechanics not being prepared. Webber was forced to stack behind his team mate, but the two Red Bulls were still able to stay ahead of Alonso’s Ferrari, who pitted at the same time.
The delay halved the advantage Vettel had built up, but the German was soon extending his lead once more. Webber meanwhile was left to see off Alonso. He had suffered a slow pit stop earlier in the race that saw him drop behind the Spaniard, before he reclaimed second place with a DRS assisted move.
McLaren enjoyed their best result of the season after Jenson Button drove to fourth place. Button’s strong result was courtesy of a strong start, before he moved up to sixth in the first stint. He then benefitted from Massa’s penalty and Hamilton’s puncture to take fourth place – a position he would maintain till the end of the race.
It was an equally impressive performance from Button’s team mate, Sergio Perez. The Mexican, who was taking part in his last race for McLaren, started nineteenth after a gearbox change penalty. He moved his way up through the order to finish a strong sixth, and briefly challenged Rosberg for fifth in the closing stages.
It wasn’t such a strong race for Lotus. The Enstone based team arrived in Brazil with an outside chance of taking second place in the constructors’ championship. However, those hopes went up in a cloud of smoke when Romain Grosjean retired through engine failure on lap three. Heikki Kovalainen failed to score points once more after a dismal start saw him lose numerous positions. He could only recover to fourteenth place.
Nico Hulkenberg and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the points scorers, after finishing eighth and tenth place respectively.
Marussia held on to tenth place in the constructors’ battle over long-time rivals Caterham. Charles Pic – who had claimed “new” team honours in qualifying yesterday – retired towards the end of the race with apparent suspension failure.
Jules Bianchi therefore finished seventeenth, ahead of Giedo van der Garde and team mate Max Chilton. The result means that Chilton made a small piece of history of his own, after becoming the first driver to finish every race in his rookie season.
The expected rain never really arrived. Despite persistent drizzle throughout the duration of the race, conditions didn’t deteriorated significantly. It was the first dry running the teams had all weekend.
The 2014 Formula One season commences in Melbourne, Australia on March 16th.