Gears of War: The Brazilian Grand Prix 2011


For the past two seasons, the final race of the year has been something of an anti-climax. Even when the championship still had to be decided in 2010, it is hard to say it was an exciting race. This year, it was different. This year, it was Brazil, not Abu Dhabi, that hosted the final round. This year, it was the right way to end the Formula One season.

On Saturday, Sebastian Vettel did what he does best and put his Red Bull on pole, a record-breaking 15th pole of the season. Things did not go so well for him in the race, as a gearbox problem threatened to sideline him from the lead. On lap 30, he moved over and let Mark Webber through, as it was unlikely he could have kept the Australian behind. Mark held the lead until the end, with the exception of pit stops, and got his first win of the season, which was not only much deserved, but much needed. It should make the winter that little bit easier for him. It seemed that Sebastian was not the only one who was suffering gearbox problems; indeed, it was all the fashion in Interlagos. Bruno Senna and Lewis Hamilton were to experience the same feeling of helplessness, with it costing Hamilton his race on lap 37. Red Bull were amazed that Vettel got over halfway, let alone to the end and on the podium.

Towards the end of the race, Button and Alonso were battling over third on the track, and potentially second in the championship. It was Jenson who secured both of these with one of the best overtaking moves this year, and certainly one of the cleverest. Going into turn one, he forced Fernando to go to the inside and take the defensive line, before returning to the normal line for the corner. Fernando was therefore compromised on his line for the second part of the Senna ‘S’, which is a crucial corner, as it leads not only onto a straight, but also into the DRS zone. In the end, it is debatable whether Jenson would have needed the DRS, but it made sure the job was done. Fernando dropped to fourth in the race and the championship, being beaten by Webber by a single point to third. Jenson then went on to try and catch Vettel, and despite putting in some quick laps, the gap was just too much, and he had to settle for third.

It was perhaps not the most exciting race of this year, but it certainly had its elements. For those who enjoy the strategy of motorsport, it was a great race, with two and three stops being tried, and calls on the pit wall very important. On track, there was enough to get you energized, but the atmosphere was the key ingredient. It has always been like it in Brazil, be it Rio or Sao Paulo, where the people are in the party mood all weekend. Is there a better place to end the season? I can’t think of anywhere.

Drive of the day: A lot of drivers wanted to see the season out with a good race under their belts, especially for those coming to the bargaining table for next year’s drives. In what appears to be his last, Jerome D’Ambrosio had a decent drive at the back, but it was not enough to secure his services for next year, with Charles Pic being confirmed alongside Timo Glock at Marussia. The final laps from Jenson Button were excellent, but the rest of his race was standard. In reality, there were three standout drives. The first of these was the winner, Mark Webber, who had a great race, setting the fastest lap on the last tour, and driving the best he has done all season. His team-mate Vettel did well too, managing a gearbox problem throughout, although it wasn’t quite as dramatic as Senna in ’91. It did, however, take a lot of effort, and the times he managed to set with the issue underlines the inherent speed the young German has. But the drive of the day goes to another German, one who has never really delivered on all of his promise: Adrian Sutil. It was a great drive to sixth, beating the Mercedes of Rosberg, and helping his team get within four points to Renault in the Constructors. It was possibly the best race I’ve ever seen him drive, and has made Vijay Mallaya’s decision about who to have in the Force India seats next year even harder.

Disappointment of the day: Here are some words that could be used for any race this season: it was another poor performance from Felipe Massa. Out qualified by Rosberg on Saturday, he came home fifth on Sunday, but only because Hamilton’s gearbox decided to stop working. Finishing over a minute off the lead, and 30 seconds behind your team-mate, simply isn’t good enough. Mind you, it wasn’t a great day for any of the Brazilians. Senna was penalised, perhaps harshly, for an incident with Michael Schumacher, and finished behind Kovalainen’s Lotus. Rubens Barrichello did the best job possible in his car, finishing 14th and ahead of Schumacher, and can be proud of his race, if not the result. However, the real disappointment of the day was the way the BBC dealt with explaining next year’s coverage in the UK. It was made to sound amazing, and that it was the best thing possible for us fans, when in reality, it isn’t. There are two comments on the BBC website that really sum it up; firstly from JG-Jonno, who wrote that ‘The presenting team having to sell this new deal as ‘better’ than alternatives at the end of the main show today was truly insulting to the fans, and probably embarrassing for them.’ The other quote, from Jon Conner, really sums up how the fans still feel about this issue; ‘Rest in peace F1, murdered by the BBC.’

After the winter, it should be very interesting to see what happens on track, and what happens on screen.

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