Google+ Jack Leslie F1: 2013 Brazilian Grand Prix Weekend Report

22 November 2013

2013 Brazilian Grand Prix Weekend Report

Here it is: the final weekend review of the 2013 Formula 1 season. The charming, old-school Interlagos circuit, once again, hosts the season finale as the current V8 engine era comes to a close.
(c) Getty Images
The track is a driver favourite for its challenging middle sector, high-speed layout and passionate atmosphere. Weather is always a factor in Brazil and the race always produces excitement.

For a detailed look at the race and a guide to the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, check out my Brazilian Grand Prix preview. Also check out my track guide for RichlandF1 and race preview for Formula1Blog. Look back at past races with my One Year Rewind and F1 Flashback. See some of the goings-on from the track with my Thursday Snap Shot and for some interesting facts about the season finale, have a read of my piece for Car Throttle.

Alongside the V8 engines, Mark Webber was also taking part in his final F1 race. The Aussie, who is a popular character in the paddock, will move on to a new challenge competing in the World Endurance Championship with Porsche. The race also marked the end of several driver/team partnerships. The 2014 grid will look very different in March for the Australian Grand Prix.

Massa will leave Ferrari after eight years for Williams. Raikkonen will return to the Scuderia after a stint at Lotus, Perez will leave McLaren after one season and Ricciardo will replace the departing Webber at Red Bull - to name just a few.

Damp conditions welcomed the F1 paddock for the final first practice session of the season. This wasn't welcomed by Pirelli, who had brought prototype 2014 tyres to run during Friday's running.
(c) Mercedes AMG Petronas

It was a very quiet and slow start to the session due to the wet weather. The Marussia of Jules Bianchi was the first driver to take to the track and sample the conditions. He used the wet weather tyres. Jenson Button was the first driver to set a lap time, a 1m26.184.

The times tumbled in the first 30 minutes of the session as the rain intensity decreased and drivers switched to the intermediates. By the half-way stage, Nico Rosberg led from team-mate Lewis Hamilton with a best time of 1m24.781. Sebastian Vettel completed some aero runs on the hard and prototype dry Pirelli tyres but pitted shortly after.

The rain soon returned for the final part of the session which caused the majority of teams to change their schedules. The tricky conditions caught even the most highly-rated drivers out. It remained a Mercedes 1-2 by the chequered flag. Vettel moved up to third with Button and Alonso completing the top five. Webber and Perez followed just behind and Kvyat impressed in eighth. Kovalainen and Hulkenberg rounded out the top 10. 

Heavy rain soaked the Interlagos circuit ahead of second practice for the season finale in Brazil. Due to the tricky conditions, there was very little running in the early stages of the session. 

(c) Caterham F1 Team
Max Chilton was the first driver to take to the circuit. His Marussia MR-02 was fitted with the wet Pirelli tyres.Heikki Kovalainen opened the time sheets with a 1m31.658.

Mark Webber moved to the top of the table before Nico Rosberg swiftly displaced him, radioing after his first lap to say "that is enough for me" in FP2. However, track conditions improved enough for a final run on the intermediate tyres in the closing stages. Fernando Alonso was the first driver out on track on the green-banded Pirelli tyres.

The times tumbled considerably in the closing stages but Rosberg managed to emerge from it all on top, making it a clean sweep on Friday. His best time of 1m27.306 was two tenths faster than Vettel's best effort. Webber finished in third and Kovalainen moved up to fourth. Hamilton completed the top five despite a late spin and Vergne, Massa, Hulkenberg, Ricciardo and Grosjean rounded out the top 10. Alonso was 11th fastest and Button finished in 22nd after only completing six laps.

The third and final practice session of the Brazilian Grand Prix weekend took place in wet conditions after morning rain showers saturated the Interlagos circuit. Esteban Gutierrez was the first driver to take to the circuit and test the conditions.

(c) Getty Images
The Mexican was also the first driver to set a lap time in the 60 minute session - a 1m34.837. With the limited number of wet weather tyres for each driver, there wasn't much running in the early stages. Hulkenberg broke the on-track silence and was swiftly followed out by the two Marussia drivers.

The track conditions improved for the final 20 minutes and this enabled the field to get a few flying laps in on the intermediate tyre. Mark Webber was the first to do so and his best time of 1m27.891 proved to be the fastest lap of the session. 

The Aussie topped the final practice session of his career and finished three tenths clear of Romain Grosjean. Kovalainen, Bottas and Hulkenberg completed the top five. Vergne, Gutierrez - who completed the most laps of anyone, 21, in the session - and Maldonado were next up and the Force India duo rounded out the top 10. Nico Rosberg, Jenson Button and the two Ferrari's didn't set a time during the session. 

The final qualifying session of the 2013 season got underway at the Interlagos circuit with wet conditions continuing for the Q1, where the slowest six runners were eliminated. 

(c) Sauber F1 Team
With more rain on the way, it was a busy start to the 20 minute session as cars queued at the pit exit to take to the track on the intermediate tyre. All 22 drivers took to the track in the early stages and Lewis Hamilton was the first driver to set a lap time - a 1m25.342.

The rain returned mid-way through the session and worsened the already slippery conditions. By the chequered flag, Hamilton remained in the top spot but Kovalainen moved into the top five with his final effort on a new set of intermediates, behind Vettel, Rosberg and Hulkenberg. 

Vergne managed to save himself from the drop-zone but Maldonado and Gutierrez didn't have the speed to do the same. Behind Maldonado and Gutierrez, Pic was the fastest of the backmarkers from van der Garde, Bianchi - who lost time on his fastest lap after a moment at the final corner - and Chilton.

The rain continued to fall for the 15 minute second qualifying session, where drivers battled to make it through to the top 10 shoot-out. The Mercedes duo of Rosberg and Hamilton were the first drivers to take to the track and set a banker lap.
(c) Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Rosberg's first time was a 1m26.626 on a fresh set of intermediate tyres. All 16 runners circulated the track in the early stages. Vettel soon moved to the front of the field and Sutil managed to catch a wild slide through turn three. Kovalainen also got out of shape mid-way through the session, this time at turn six.

The order changed dramatically in the final few minutes as drivers improved on fresh sets of Pirelli tyres. The yellow flags came out in the closing seconds after Sergio Perez lost control of his car at the exit of turn five. The Mexican driver hit the wall, damaging the right-rear corner and the front wing of his McLaren MP4-28. He qualified in 14th place, behind Kovalainen, di Resta and Bottas. 

Button and Sutil were the slowest runners in the second session, which was topped by Romain Grosjean after a late improvement despite the rain intensifying. Vettel, Alonso, Rosberg and Hamilton completed the top five. Webber, Massa and Ricciardo, Vergne and Hulkenberg also made it through to Q3.

The final top 10 shoot-out of 2013 arrived after the drama of the previous two sessions. The start of the session was delayed due to heavy rain. When it did eventually get underway, Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel were the first drivers to take to the circuit.

(c) Getty Images
All 10 drivers emerged from their pit garages on the wet Pirelli tyres in the early stages. Webber set the first lap time of the session, a 1m29.215, but the Aussie was swiftly displaced by Vettel, Rosberg and Hamilton. Grosjean pitted at the end of his first flying lap for a set of intermediates. 

The rest of the drivers followed suit, before returning to the track for one final attempt to take pole position. Grosjean moved to the top with his first time on the green-banded tyres but his time was bettered by both Red Bulls.

Sebastian Vettel's benchmark of 1m26.459 proved to be unbeatable and he took pole position for the Brazilian Grand Prix, seven tenths faster than his nearest rival.

Nico Rosberg set the second fastest time, four tenths clear of Fernando Alonso who put in the third fastest lap in Q3. Webber and Hamilton completed the top five. Grosjean, Ricciardo, Vergne, Massa and Hulkenberg completed the runners.


Pos Driver                Team                 Time          Gap   
 1. Sebastian Vettel      Red Bull-Renault     1m26.479s
 2. Nico Rosberg          Mercedes             1m27.102s  +0.623s
 3. Fernando Alonso       Ferrari              1m27.539s  +1.060s
 4. Mark Webber           Red Bull-Renault     1m27.572s  +1.093s
 5. Lewis Hamilton        Mercedes             1m27.677s  +1.198s
 6. Romain Grosjean       Lotus-Renault        1m27.737s  +1.258s
 7. Daniel Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m28.052s  +1.573s
 8. Jean-Eric Vergne      Toro Rosso-Ferrari   1m28.081s  +1.602s
 9. Felipe Massa          Ferrari              1m28.109s  +1.630s
10. Nico Hulkenberg       Sauber-Ferrari       1m29.582s  +3.103s
Q2 cut-off time: 1m27.441s                                   Gap **
11. Heikki Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault        1m27.456s  +1.295s
12. Paul di Resta         Force India-Mercedes 1m27.798s  +1.637s
13. Valtteri Bottas       Williams-Renault     1m27.954s  +1.793s
14. Sergio Perez          McLaren-Mercedes     1m28.269s  +2.108s+
15. Jenson Button         McLaren-Mercedes     1m28.308s  +2.147s
16. Adrian Sutil          Force India-Mercedes 1m28.586s  +2.425s
Q1 cut-off time: 1m27.209s                                    Gap *
17. Pastor Maldonado      Williams-Renault     1m27.367s  +2.025s
18. Esteban Gutierrez     Sauber-Ferrari       1m27.445s  +2.103s
19. Charles Pic           Caterham-Renault     1m27.843s  +2.501s
20. Giedo van der Garde   Caterham-Renault     1m28.320s  +2.978s
21. Jules Bianchi         Marussia-Cosworth    1m28.366s  +3.024s
22. Max Chilton           Marussia-Cosworth    1m28.950s  +3.608s

107% time: 1m31.315s
* Gap to quickest in Q1
** Gap to quickest in Q2
+ 5-place grid penalty for gearbox change 

The Race
71 laps of the Interlagos circuit was all that separated the 22 drivers from the end of the 2013 season, as they lined up on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix.

It was an emotional race for many, the last in the sport for Mark Webber, the final one for Felipe Massa at Ferrari, Pastor Maldonado at Williams and Sergio Perez at McLaren to name just a few - and plenty more yet to be confirmed.
(c) Getty Images

Weather was a hot topic in the paddock prior to the race start, with overcast conditions welcoming the F1 circus on Sunday morning. Would the predicted rain arrive? Could anyone challenge Sebastian Vettel? Read on to find out...

For the last time in 2013, the revs rose, the lights went out and at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace, we were racing. Off the line, pole-sitter Sebastian Vettel had a poor getaway and lost the lead to Nico Rosberg into turn one.

Lewis Hamilton moved up to third as he entered the 'Senna S' and Felipe Massa had a storming start to jump to sixth place in his final race for Ferrari. Alonso attempted to move ahead of Hamilton at turn six later in the lap but he couldn't make it stick. 

As the cars headed into turn one for the second time, Vettel reclaimed the lead from Rosberg - who looked to have more downforce on his car - and Alonso took third back from Hamilton. That gave Webber a sniff at fourth place and the Aussie moved ahead with a beautiful move at the sweeping turn six.

Jenson Button displaced Valtteri Bottas for 10th place on lap three. Meanwhile at the front of the field, Vettel had eked out a 1.4 lead over Rosberg as the Mercedes driver battled to hold off Alonso's Ferrari. He couldn't keep the Spaniard behind for long and dropped to third at turn four on the fourth lap.

Romain Grosjean's Lotus didn't even make it to the fourth lap after his Renault engine failed in spectacular style at turn 13, ending his impressive season on a very disappointing note. Webber moved ahead of the lead Mercedes on lap seven, as he looked to chase down Alonso.

(c) Getty Images
Button continued to make his way through the field and took the Toro Rosso of Daniel Ricciardo for eighth place on lap nine. At the front of the field, Vettel looked in a league of his own and had a lead of over seven seconds to Alonso by lap 10. Behind, the battle for second heated up as Webber closed in on the second-place Ferrari.

Elsewhere, Hamilton moved ahead of Rosberg and Jean-Eric Vergne was the first man to stop for fresh tyres at the end of the 10th lap, moving on to the hard compound Pirelli rubber. The inevitable occurred on lap 13 with Webber moving ahead of Alonso on the start/finish straight.

Ricciardo pitted for the first time at the end of lap 14, signalling a three-stop strategy. Kovalainen followed him in and up ahead, Rosberg lost out to Massa at turn four with the added boost of DRS. Vettel had a 10 second lead by the 18th lap but started to suffer from tyre degradation.

The midfield order was well and truly shook up by the first pit stops. Massa and Perez pitted for the first time on lap 19 and Button took to his pit box on the following lap. Alonso and Hamilton were the first front-runners to stop on lap 21 and Rosberg visited his pit box on the next lap. 

Webber was the first Red Bull to take to the pitlane but it was a delayed stop and he dropped behind Alonso. The Aussie soon caught up to the Ferrari driver and moved ahead on lap 26. Bottas and Gutierrez got very close into the braking zone for turn one, making slight contact. 

(c) Mercedes AMG Petronas
Felipe Massa was handed a drive-through penalty for crossing the white line at the pit entry and served it at the end of lap 34. At the half-way mark, Vettel led team-mate Webber by 11 seconds. Alonso held on to third, Hamilton was a distant fourth and Button moved into the top five.

Kovalainen and Sutil were the first drivers to take to the pitlane for the second time. Button and Massa pitted for a set of medium and hard compound tyres respectively on lap 43. Rosberg and Perez chose to do the same on the following lap and both moved on to a fresh set of hard compound rubber.

Drama ensued at the Interlagos circuit after contact between Hamilton and Bottas at turn four brought an early end to the Finn's race and gave Hamilton a right-rear puncture. The Red Bull duo and the Ferrari of Alonso quickly pitted on lap 49 for a fresh set of tyres but it was a slow stop for Vettel and Webber had to queue behind his team-mate.

Hamilton was handed a drive-through penalty for his clash with Bottas. Giedo van der Garde was handed the same penalty, but his was for ignoring blue flags. After a few laps of drizzle, the rain intensified slightly by lap 55. In all the pit confusion, Webber had closed to within six seconds of his team-mate by the 57th lap of the Interlagos circuit.

Charles Pic's race came to an early close on lap 60 after his right-rear suspension broke at turn five. He pulled off track at turn six which briefly brought out the yellow flags. Vergne and Maldonado made contact at turn one, spinning the Venezuelan driver. 

(c) Getty Images
Despite some pit stop confusion, Vettel held enough of an advantage to take his 13th win of the 2013 season and ninth consecutive victory.

Sebastian Vettel wins the 2013 season finale in Brazil

It wasn't a perfect race victory for Sebastian Vettel, but it was another dominant showing to finish ten seconds clear of his team-mate Mark Webber. It was another incredible job for the four-time world champion, who celebrated with his now traditional donuts. Webber ended his Formula 1 career on a positive note with a second place finish to make it a Red Bull 1-2. 

He drove a great recovery after dropping back at the start to close his time in the sport with a strong result. Fernando Alonso finished on the podium for the first time since the Singapore Grand Prix. It was an improved showing for Ferrari but it wasn't enough to take second in the constructors' standings away from Mercedes. 

Jenson Button finished a difficult season for McLaren with a fourth place finish, their best result of the 2013 season, after making progress in the first stint on the hard compound tyre. It was a great drive for the Brit, with his team-mate Sergio Perez rounding out his short career with McLaren in sixth place, behind the Mercedes of Nico Rosberg.

Felipe Massa completed his eight-year run at Ferrari with seventh place, dropping down the order due to a drive-through penalty. Nico Hulkenberg scored points for Sauber in the season finale with eighth place. Lewis Hamilton's crash with Valtteri Bottas and the additional trip through the pitlane dropped him to ninth and Daniel Ricciardo rounded out the top 10.
(c) Marussia F1 Team

Paul di Resta, Esteban Gutierrez and Adrian Sutil finished just outside of the points and Heikki Kovalainen suffered a difficult race to 14th. Jean-Eric Vergne and Pastor Maldonado were next up. Jules Bianchi finished in 17th place and ahead of Giedo van der Garde, crucially giving Marussia 10th in the constructors' championship.

Max Chilton crossed the line in 19th place, meaning he finished all 19 races of his rookie season. Charles Pic, Valtteri Bottas and Romain Grosjean were the only retirements.


Pos  Driver        Team                       Time
 1.  Vettel         Red Bull-Renault           1h32:36.300
 2.  Webber         Red Bull-Renault           +    10.452
 3.  Alonso         Ferrari                    +      18.9
 4.  Button         McLaren-Mercedes           +      37.3
 5.  Rosberg        Mercedes                   +      39.0
 6.  Perez          McLaren-Mercedes           +      44.0
 7.  Massa          Ferrari                    +      49.1
 8.  Hulkenberg     Sauber-Ferrari             +    1:04.2
 9.  Hamilton       Mercedes                   +    1:12.9
10.  Ricciardo      Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +     1 lap
11.  Di Resta       Force India-Mercedes       +     1 lap
12.  Gutierrez      Sauber-Ferrari             +     1 lap
13.  Sutil          Force India-Mercedes       +     1 lap
14.  Kovalainen     Lotus-Renault              +     1 lap
15.  Vergne         Toro Rosso-Ferrari         +     1 lap
16.  Maldonado      Williams-Renault           +     1 lap
17.  Bianchi        Marussia-Cosworth          +    2 laps
18.  van der Garde  Caterham-Renault           +    2 laps
19.  Chilton        Marussia-Cosworth          +    2 laps

Fastest lap: Webber, 1:15.436

Not classified/retirements:

Driver        Team                         On lap
Pic            Caterham-Renault             59
Bottas         Williams-Renault             46
Grosjean       Lotus-Renault                3

No comments: