Daily Archives: November 7, 2010

Vettel wins, while Red Bull seal constructors title in Brazil

Sebastian Vettel took the win in today’s Brazilian Grand Prix, heading team-mate Mark Webber. Their 1-2 finish ensured that Red Bull now take the constructor’s championship with one race to go. Fernando Alonso was 3rd for Ferrari, and retains his lead of the driver’s championship.

At the start, pole sitter Nico Hulkenberg was swamped by the Red Bulls, Vettel out-braking him into Turn 1, and Webber catching him out at Turn 3. On the second lap, Lewis Hamilton made a mistake at Decida de Lago, allowing Fernando Alonso into 4th.

For the next few laps, the Red Bulls shot away, while Hulkenberg held up Alonso for the moment, the young German holding off the double world champion’s attacks. By Lap 7, a switchback at Decida de Lago ensured Alonso was up to 3rd.

However, Lewis Hamilton was unable to make the same move quickly enough, getting held up behind the Williams for far too long. He then began to complain of low grip on his car. His team-mate Button, up to 9th, was the first to make the call to change to the hard tyres on Lap 11, and instantly set the fastest middle sector on the next lap.

This prompted a charge for the pits, and on Lap 14, Hulkenberg, Massa and Kubica made the change, which released Hamilton. Felipe Massa suffered a disaster in the pits, with a wheel nut problem forcing him to pit again one lap later.

Lewis finally pitted on Lap 20, and emerged just ahead of Button, who had made good progress having stopped 9 laps earlier. Meanwhile, Rosberg and Kobayashi were 4th and 5th, but yet to stop. Nico Hulkenberg lost out badly through the stops, falling down to 10th.

The top 3 were still yet to pit, and Alonso, being 10 seconds behind the duo of Vettel and Webber, was the first to stop. Vettel, and then Webber, stopped one lap after each other, and retained their positions. Further back, Jenson Button made a dive down the inside of Kamui Kobayashi at Turn 1.

On Lap 36, the Brazilian jinx returned for Rubens Barrichello, suffering a puncture while battling for position with Jaime Alguersuari. A few laps later, Nico Rosberg was the next to make a move on Kobayashi, as the Sauber seemed to be struggling badly for pace.

There was a huge train of cars battling for points, which would soon come into play for the frontrunners. Mark Webber began to close on Sebastian Vettel, but was swiftly frustrated by being held up by several backmarkers, like Lucas di Grassi and Sebastien Buemi. After losing several seconds, and then regaining them, over the next few laps, the battle at the top was altered again on Lap 52, when the safety car was deployed.

Vitantonio Liuzzi made a mistake at Turn 2 and hit the barriers. This meant that the field was now bunched up, but there were two backmarkers between Vettel and Webber, keeping Sebastian safe at the restart. Both McLarens pitted at the safety car period, as both cars were struggling with the hard tyres.

The safety car pitted on Lap 55, and Kobayashi and Buemi got stuck into the battle for 11th, with Kamui coming off better. Felipe Massa tried to pass Buemi a few laps later, but they make contact, and Massa ran wide, losing several positions in the process.

Apart from Nick Heidfeld suffering a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags, not much happened in the final few laps, so Sebastian Vettel took a well-deserved win at Interlagos, leading Webber by 4 seconds. This ensured that Red Bull now have an unbeatable 48-point lead in the constructors’ championship.

While there were rumours during the race of Vettel handing the lead to Webber, this was swiftly ignored as Sebastian drove fantastically well today, and is still in contention for the title next weekend at Abu Dhabi. Alonso is 8 points ahead of Webber, who is 7 ahead of Vettel. Hamilton is 24 points behind Alonso, just within contention, while Jenson Button is now out. The full standings are available here.

Button escapes armed attack in Sao Paulo, following other incidents this week

After a spate of attacks on F1 personnel in Sao Paulo this weekend, it has been revealed this morning that Jenson Button was the victim of an attempted armed robbery last night.

Jenson was heading to his car with several members of the team, including John Button (father), Mike Colier (Jenson’s physio), and Richard Goddard (Jenson’s manager). However, they encountered a group of 6 men with machine guns, who attempted to attack the car. Luckily, their police driver Daniel Toni escaped, by bouncing off several other cars to get out of the area.

Jenson described the attack today:

We rocked up at the traffic lights, about three rows back. Our 

driver, as always, stops early and doesn't pull up right 

behind the car in front. We looked to the right and saw a few 

guys gathering at the side of the road just to the entrance to 

a building. They were just stood there.

It looked a bit suspect but we didn't think anything of it and 

then Richard [Goddard, manager] noticed that one of them had a 

baton hanging down from his arm. Then I noticed that one guy was 

playing around with something in his trousers and it was a gun. 

As soon as I said that the driver looked across, and when they 

saw him look they started running towards the car.

We angled the car and floored it. It didn't look like there was 

a big enough space there, but we got between six cars - and 

rammed every single one to get past. We got through in the end 

and got away, but looking behind there were two guys with hand 

guns. One was quite a simple looking hand gun and one guy with 

something that looked like a machine gun.

The worst part of this story is that this is not uncommon at all in Sao Paulo, though it seems to be the first incident regarding a driver. This follows several other attacks on the F1 paddock this weekend. A group of 7 Sauber mechanics were mugged last night, losing several briefcases. Formula One Management workers were attacked last week, and last year Fuji TV workers were caught between crossfire.

To make matters worse, the car Jenson and his team were in was inconspicuous (B-Class Mercedes), and had blacked-out windows, suggesting the attackers were waiting for the team.

For years, there have always been whispers that these types of attacks are putting the Brazilian GP in jeopardy, and with an attack on a driver, these rumours are only going to intensify. I love the Intelagos track, but if this situation gets any worse, then the F1 paddock may well have to set sail from Sao Paulo for good.

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