Vettel takes it to the wire: Brazilian GP as it happened

Hello and welcome to forumula1.com’s live coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

4.55pm (GMT) The big news here is that Nico Hulkenberg is on pole position, his first ever! How, or indeed if, the championship challengers will get past him is a source of great interest to the gathered fans at Interlagos.

Jenson Button was the unfortunate victim of an attempted carjacking last night, which cannot have been the best preparation for his race. He starts from 11th on the grid.

It really is high tension now as we wait for the cars to head off on their parade lap.

Christian Klien has an electronics problem, apparently, which means he starts from the pitlane. Adrian Sutil is the other man in a bit of a funk, being as he is in 22nd as a result of a dire qualifying performance and a five place grid penalty for crashing into Kamui Kobayashi in Korea.

4.58pm They’re off on the parade lap. Nico Hulkenberg is setting a not too shabby pace as he takes the field round. He was shown having to re-take some drivers, though, so maybe something slightly untoward happened to him in turns one or two.

Lap 1 And they’re off!! Sebastian Vettel gets a flyer and gets past Hulkenberg into Turn One…then Mark Webber also takes the Williams man. Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton are having a ding-dong battle for fourth.

Lap 2 And after managing to keep Alonso behind him despite the Spaniard’s great slipstream across the line, Hamilton then makes a mistake into turn four and lets him by. Michael Schumacher takes Button for ninth.

Lap 3 Alonso is harrying Hulkenberg, who is doing a better job of defending against the Ferrari than he did against the Red Bulls. Alonso is losing time to those Red Bulls out front. Lewis Hamilton is not a million miles of his back either.

Lap 5 Hulkenberg is defending brilliantly into turn one from Alonso. It’s now Vettel, Webber, Hulkenber, Alonso, Hamilton, Kubica, Rosberg, Barrichelllo, Massa, Schumacher, Button.

Lap 6 Hamilton wants blood here, and the better Hulkenberg blocks Alonso, the more chance he will have.

Lap 7 But it’s too late! Alonso’s by Hulkenberg into third.

Lap 8 Hamilton is now threatening the Williams. But he ‘s having difficulties, and Kubica is awaiting a mistake. “I have no grip,” says Hamilton. His tyres might be wearing from following cars.

Lap 9 Alonso in clear air is still a lot slower than the Red Bulls.

Lap 10 There is a bit of a gap, looks like about three seconds, between Vettel in first and Webber in second. They can dictate this race at the moment – all well in Milton Keynes.

Lap 11 Hamilton and Hulkenberg are really battling here. Hamilton comes up the inside at turn one, but the German holds it brilliantly and hangs the Englishman out to dry. Hamilton has to get past if he wants to keep his championship alive. But on raw pace, you’d have to say he’s out of the race already. The Red Bulls are flying.

Lap 12 Jenson Button pits.

Lap 13 Felipe Massa’s also in, as Hulkenberg and Hamilton are side by side once more, with Hamilton STILL unable to overtake.

Lap 14 Felipe Massa does a lap and then pits again! Maybe a wheel wasn’t on properly or something.

Lap 15 Hulkenberg and Kubica pit, leaving Hamilton on his own and up into fourth.

Lap 16 Jenson Button’s early stop has paid dividends. He is now ahead of Hulkenberg and Kubica, which has put him right in contention. He will, you’d have thought, be suffering from degradation in a bit though. We’ve just had a replay of Massa pitting the second time, and he was pointing at the right front as he drew up.

Lap 17 Hamilton is still moaning that he has no grip.

Lap 18 Button is not half bad here, really. He’s just taken Vitaly Petrov for position. He might well be fighting his team-mate in a bit, once Hamilton has pitted.

Lap 19 Fernando Alonso sets the fastest lap.

Lap 20 The front runners are yet to pit, which might be good for them long-term as their tyres will last longer. The Red Bulls are lapping the backmarkers now.

Lap 21 Hamilton pits, as does Schumacher. Hamilton emerges just ahead of Button, who has jumped Schumacher. “My tyres aren’t fantastic, but I’ll keep going,” radioes leader Sebastian Vettel.

Lap 22 The opening of the pitstop window very early by Jenson Button has made the true race order complicated to suss out. It’s Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Rosberg, Kobayashi who are leading but none of them has pitted. Hamilton, who is the first man to have pitted, sets a 1m19.6 which is quick, the fastest lap in fact.

Lap 24 Ferrari are out in the pitlane.

Lap 25 Alonso in. A quick, flawless stop, and he is out into clear air, ahead of Rosberg, cleverly. He is a net and an actual third.

Lap 26 Red Bull respond by bringing Vettel in. No mistakes by Red Bull, although momentarily the German has lost first to Webber.

Lap 27 Webber pits and is out into second behind Vettel. Normal service is resumed and everyone is asleep here.

Lap 27 Rosberg comes out ahead of his team mate.

Lap 28 Vettel sets a 1m15.969. Fastest lap, and very fast indeed. Reliability the only possibility of intrigue now, it would seem.

Lap 29 Button comes up behind Kobayashi, who hasn’t pitted yet. Echoes of last season! But he gets past him much more easily this time.

Lap 30 Ferrari tell Alonso that Red Bull’s pace is ”out of reach, we can’t touch them.” Given that it looks like an easy third and a hatful of points for championship leader Alonso, Martin Brundle has just raised the interesting possibility that Red Bull could make a call and support Webber now…it’s unlikely, but this result leaves Alonso better off. This could be the moment Red Bull lose the championship if they fail to make the call and get Webber by.

Lap 32 Will Webber attack Vettel? Can he? The gap is 2.4 seconds.

Lap 34 Rubens Barrichello’s Interlagos curse returns as he has a right front puncture. A pity, as the Williams have been quick here.

Lap 36 Robert Kubica is all over the back if Nico Hulkenberg for tenth. The order now is Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Kobayashi, Rosberg, Sutil, Schumacher, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Heidfeld, Alguersuari.

Lap 37 Rosberg is challenging Kamui Kobayashi now. “Is my F-duct working?” says Lewis. He is a moany misery guts this afternoon. The fact is that his McLaren is just not as quick as the Ferrari or the Red Bull, a difficult fact which has been hidden at recent races, perhaps.

Lap 39 Vettel was in traffic last lap and has lost two tenths to Webber. But Webber then gets stuck behind the same traffic – Senna – and loses even more time. He has to go and get his team-mate now, basically.

Lap 40 Rosberg gets past Kobayashi, who hasn’t generally offered much resistance to his tormentors today. Ted Kravitz, in the pitlane for the BBC, says it’s chronic understeer for the Japanese.

Lap 41 Vettel and Webber are in a lot of traffic now. More is to come.

Lap 42 Alonso, in third, is progressing serenely, not yet in the traffic.

Lap 43 Now Red Bull are racing each other, there is more chance, marginally, that they will suffer a mechanical failure. The gap is less than two seconds and the challenge is negotiating the backmarkers that litter Interlagos.

Lap 44 We lose Lucas di Grassi, the first retirement, would you believe. It hasn’t been stellar entertainment.

Lap 45 Martin Brundle says that although team order are banned, they could be used cannily at this stage of the season. But Red Bull have decided not to, which also means, says the BBC man, that they cannot tell Webber not to have a go.

Lap 47 The two leaders approach that big lot of traffic. Lucas di Grassi has not retired, he has rejoined. This is of no consequence to anyone.

Lap 48 What is of consequence is that it seems Webber is having more difficulty negotiating backmarkers than Vettel.

Lap 49 It is a big train of cars, everyone seems to be in the same place on track. It’s getting better…

Lap 50 Hamilton is inexplicably slow. “My tyres are not in good shape,” he gripes. Moan, moan, moan.

Lap 51 Liuzzi has crashed at turn one and there is a Safety Car out. Good for entertainment, this, although one might suspect Liuzzi isn’t too happy. Not many people understand why he has not yet been sacked.

Lap 52 Hamilton decides to pit for new tyres under the SC and will have to do some overtaking if he wants to finish where he was before.

Lap 53 This is playing into Vettel’s hands, because now there won’t be any traffic, and there is a two car cushion between him and Webber. Those two are a Williams and a Renault.

Lap 54 This is taking some time to clear. Mercedes are making the best of it, bringing Rosberg in twice after making a cock-up of putting the tyres on.

Lap 55 The Safety Car is to come in at the end of this lap.

Lap 56 They are racing. Webber hasn’t made the best of the restart. He seems to be further away after a few corners than he was before.

Lap 57 Maybe Lewis Hamilton, if he can negotiate a few cars, will be able to challenge Fernando Alonso. Alonso isn’t having a happy time with traffic himself. It’s a long shot at this moment, though.

Lap 58 Vettel sets the fastest lap again. It’s him from Webber, Alonso, Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Schumacher, Hulkenberg, Kubica, Alguersuari.

Lap 60 Vettel is scampering away.

Lap 61 Massa and Buemi touch. Neither are damaged.

Lap 62 Mark Webber hasn’t quite given up, though. He sets the fastest lap. It’s looking less likely that Hamilton will be able to challenge Alonso. He’s four seconds off the Spaniard with seven laps left, and even with fresher tyres isn’t as quick.

Lap 64 Alonso, as if nicely to prove my point, sets the fastest lap. He’s catching Webber, would you believe.

Lap 66 Hamilton is trying his level best to stay on terms, but to my mind this race is the best evidence to date that he won’t win the world championship this year.

Lap 67 The gap between Webber in second and Alonso in third is stable now. “Alonso never gives up,” though, opines Brundle on the Beeb.

Lap 68 Red Bull tell Webber that he can push if he needs to, which suggests that he had been forced to conserve fuel.

Lap 70 Massa is having an eventful time of it, hitting Petrov into turn one. Meanwhile, Vettel starts his last lap.



The drivers’ crown, though, is still not decided and it goes down the wire in Abu Dhabi next weekend.

A calm and collected performance from Sebastian Vettel, who is now closer to the lead of the championship. Mark Webber was of course second. The happiest man must be Fernando Alonso, though: his third place means he is sitting pretty.

Lewis Hamilton is now 24 points behind Alonso, which means he can still win the title, but it’s a long shot. Fourth place today was a battling result for the team who lacked pace compared to their main rivals. Jenson Button was fifth.

Mercedes pair Rosberg and Schumacher were sixth and seventh respectively, while pole hero Nico Hulkenberg was eighth and Robert Kubica was ninth. Kamui Kobayashi was a respectable tenth.

Here are the race results in full:

Pos Driver Team Time
1. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h33:11.803
2. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 4.243
3. Alonso Ferrari + 6.807
4. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 14.634
5. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 15.593
6. Rosberg Mercedes + 35.300
7. Schumacher Mercedes + 43.400
8. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
9. Kubica Renault + 1 lap
10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
12. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
14. Massa Ferrari + 1 lap
15. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
16. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
17. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
18. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 2 laps
19. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 2 laps
20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
21. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
22. Klien HRT-Cosworth + 6 laps

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