The rain might have been able to create some sort of chaos on the track, but men like Sebastian Vettel always find their way around. The German managed to clinch his third consecutive World Champion title even though he finished 6th in the race. What made the race even more exciting was Jenson Button getting the chequered flag, an occurrence not many expected. Add to it the culmination of Michael Schumacher’s glorious career, and you have one of the most phenomenal races in the history of Formula One. Though Vettel had registered his name in Formula One’s record books long back, his victory at the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix has furthered his name up the record holder’s list. After Juan Manuel Fangio and Micheal Schumacher, he became one of the only three drivers to have won the World Champion title three years in a row. Also, at 25 years and 146 days, he is now the youngest three-in-a-row World Champion, a record previously held by Michael Schumacher. And as the world celebrated this young German driver’s incredible achievement, the most heart-touching moment came when Vettel’s childhood idol, Michael Schumacher, hugged him when he parked his Red Bull in the pit lane. Given Vettel’s zeal and achievements at a considerably young age, there is little doubt that he is a worthy successor to the Formula One legacy left behind by Michael Schumacher.
The drizzle ensured that the final race of the season was off to an unpredictable and yet an exciting start. Starting fourth on the grid, Vettel was off to a rather bad start as he dropped into the back of the pack after getting hit by Lotus’s Kimi Raikkonen and then William’s Bruno Senna. On the other hand, pole-sitter Lewis Hamilton maintained his lead as he successfully defended his lead from McLaren team-mate Jenson Button, who was racing at second after getting past Felipe Massa. Hamilton maintained his lead as the race progressed, while Jenson Button maintained pace at P2 and Alonso at P3 after putting a brilliant move on Webber and Massa at lap 2. Further into the race, Button began pushing Hamilton as Alonso ran off the track but rejoined the race behind Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg at P4, and had Webber racing right behind him. Meanwhile Grosjean had a lock-up causing him to veer off-track and take Webber and Kobayahi with him. While this scene with Grosjean played out, Button kept up the struggle to overtake Hamilton and finally won out on the 8th lap.
Meanwhile Alonso’s team-mate, Massa did his part by blocking up a lot of cars so Alonso could maintain his lead. The racing seen from Alonso and Vettel during this phase of the race was nothing short of phenomenal. They both then pitted at the same time making great time. Vettel however was hailed to have had the better time despite his mishap at the start of the race after which he proceeded to brilliantly catch up with the race leaders.
The same words cannot be used for Hamilton’s pit stop as the Brit stalled at the exit of his stop, losing precious time. And as Vettel continued to scorch his way through the pack, a battle of its own accord ensued at the front. Caterham’s Kovalainen raced at P6 while Hamilton passed Massa to get into third as Button lead the race with Hulkenberg 1.8 seconds behind him. Right then, Vettel hedged Webber, who gracefully let his team-mate get past him and received a genuine ‘Thank you’ from Red Bull over the radio in return. Both the contenders for the World Champion title were fighting tooth and nail, Vettel for P7 from Kamui Kobayashi after passing Rosberg and Alonso for fourth. And both eventually managed to get their way, steadily climbing their way up, giving their audience across the world just the kind of excitement they were looking forward to.
As the tricky weather continued to up the race’s tempo, Button and Hulkenberg pulled out a 40 seconds lead, only to be interrupted by a safety-car intervention between laps 23 and 29 to clear away debris, hence giving their pursuers a much-required lifeline. Hulkenberg, who was leading the race by then, pulled away on the restart on Lap 30 as Button lost a place to Hamilton while struggling at Turn 4. Eventually Hamilton clinched the race’s lead from Hulkenberg on Lap 48 as the pouring rain continued to worsen track conditions, which led Red Bull to ask Vettel to pit for slick tyres. Vettel rejoined the race at P11, right behind Michael Schumacher.
And just as everybody was reeling from the effects of the rain, Hulkenberg hit Hamilton’s left-front wheel as the former tried to pass the leader of the race, thus, causing the Brit to retire from the race. And as Hamilton’s McLaren came to a rather sad end, his team-mate quickly assumed the lead as Hulkenberg served a drive-through penalty for the crash. But there was more drama waiting for the eager audience. Vettel lost extremely precious time while pitting for intermediates on the 54th lap, but the tyre warmer on the new right-front wheel proved reluctant to come off, hence causing the aforementioned delay.
With just 11 laps left in the race, Button was leading the race, 16 seconds ahead of Massa. But the dutiful Brazilian driver gave up his P2 to Alonso on the 62nd lap as Vettel continued to wade through the cars to P6, right behind team-mate Webber. However, Vettel received a gift from his idol 64th lap as Schumacher let the contender for the title get past him for P6. This, consequently, tipped the World Champion title in young German’s favour with utmost certainty. But the track was yet to host this season’s one last crash as Paul di Resta crashed his Force India in the final corner on lap 70.
This brought out the safety car again, which meant the race had to be finished under the safety car. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is how the 2012 Formula One Championship came to an end as Button finished first with Alonso and Massa finishing in behind him at second and third, respectively. Despite the misadventures, Webber and Hulkenberg respectively finished in at P4 and P5 with third-time World Champion finishing at sixth.
"You're a triple world champion. You're the man. You are a triple world champion," said the much-pleased Red Bull boss, Christian Horner as Vettel crossed the finish line, which he later claimed to be the toughest race of his career. And even though the 25-year-old German was seen punchign the air, the team could not hear his reply, or his sobs of joy because of the faulty radio. Michael Schumacher was equally appreciative of his contemporary’s talent and said, "I think it's a nice ending I'm finishing off and he's (Sebastian Vettel) clinching his third title.” And as for the youngest third-time World Champion, he couldn’t have been happier. "It is difficult to imagine what goes through my head now even for myself. I am full of adrenaline and if you poke me now I wouldn't feel it,” said the obviously delighted Vettel.