Motorsports Mondial

Webber hits the Mark

Victory in season finale gives Aussie mate first win of the year.

Vettel second after gearbox gremlins. Button again McLaren top man.

Photo. REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes

The 2011 Formula 1 season is now history. Sunday’s Brazilian Grand Prix was dominated by Red Bull, the two Renault-powered machines were first and second in qualifying, and finished the race in same fashion but not in the style season had been.

Vettel did the usual blast-off at the start from his record-breaking 15th pole of the season. He had the race under control, and the absence of threatened rain gave every indication the young German was on his way to bag a dozen victories this season.

It was not to be. When the team radio transmission confirmed gearbox problems, it was only a matter of time before Vettel was passed.

Mark Webber took the lead from his teammate after 29 of 71 laps. He also set the fastest lap of the race on his way to his seventh F1 victory.

Jenson Button in a McLaren demoted Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso from a podium spot late in the race. The second Ferrari of local boy Felipe Massa was fifth. He had his usual close encounter with Lewis Hamilton but the duo for once did not perform ‘let’s get physical.’

Hamilton retired with gearbox issues.

Adrian Sutil, fighting for his seat at Force India, was sixth, a lap down. Fellow German Nico Rosberg was seventh for Mercedes and teammate Paul di Resta was eighth.

The final points paying positions were taken by Kamui Kobayashi for Sauber and Vitaly Petrov for Renault-Lotus, the team will drop the name of the engine supplier and will be the only Lotus name on the grid next season.

Apart from Hamilton, other retirements from the race were Vitantonio Liuzzi of HRT, Pastor Maldonado in a Williams and Timo Glock’s

he championship was a Red Bull runaway with Sebastian Vettel as the main matador, slaying the competition with 11 wins and 15 poles from 19 races. His points tally was 392, well ahead of second place Button on 270 points.

Webber’s victory gave him third place in the championship with 258 points, just one ahead of Alonso. Hamilton finished fifth on 227 points and Massa sixth with 118.

In the constructors’ championship, Red Bull scored 650 points over second place McLaren on 497. Ferrari was the only other team to score more than 200 points, placing third with 375. Mercedes fourth with 165 and Renault fifth with 73 points.

AP Photo/Victor R. Caivano

The last lap, the last laugh. Sebastian Vettel was a five-year-old lad when “Rubinho” made his Formula One debut in the 1993 South African Grand Prix. After a record 322 starts, the Sao Paulo driver for ATT Williams team may have to hang up on his F1 career. He won 11 races with Ferrari and Brawn.

The Brazilian Grand Prix may have been the 322nd and final Formula 1 start for Sao Paulo son Rubens Barrichello.

“Rubinho” made his debut with Jordan in 1993 and stayed with fast-talking Eddie for four seasons. The next three years at Stewart also went winless.

The Ferrari years brought success, first F1 victory in 2000 in Germany and second place in the championship in 2002 & ’04. Greater glory was never going to happen as long as the Red Baron controlled the flight plan for Ferrari.

After racing under the spell of Schumacher at Ferrari, Barrichello moved to Honda for 2006 which morphed into Brawn GP in 2009. The double-diffuser car was an instant success but Barrichello again had to endure a championship winning car being driven to the title by his teammate, Jenson Button.

Historic Monza was the scene of Barrichello’s final victory in the 2009 Italian Grand Prix.

— Nasir Hameed

Greetings and Sayonara to the season regards.