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Class of the Field
Adam Barton

A Formula One fan since he was six, back while Häkkinen and Schumacher were having many an epic battle, Adam has seen a great deal. From German domination (twice), to British determination (once) and a Spanish invasion. A near compulsive fan who one day hopes to write about the sport for a living, outside of F1 Adam also authors his own blog One Guy's Opinion.

Hülkenberg still gets my vote - There was more than one German in Sunday's race, you know


Wow. I think I can safely say that the Brazilian GP was quite a way to end the season, and will give us plenty of entertainment just from the memories all the way until Melbourne, Australia in March. Just about everyone had a significant story to tell and it seemed everyone but Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Marussia were pleased to be involved in such a spectacle. Were it not a championship decider, it was a race that drivers joined F1 to be involved in.

First of all, a hearty congratulations to Sebastian Vettel after securing a great third world title with a crucial damage limitation drive to sixth after looking the wrong way in turn four, with severe damage to both rear corners of his Red Bull. I have to say, I will never know how the Red Bull’s suspension didn’t break like an egg on lap one and then survived another 70 laps on a bumpy surface. Then again, the Germans in F1 are known for having strong cars.

Adventurous Hülkenberg signs off in style

Some people may not agree with me on this one but Nico Hülkenberg was the best driver out there on Sunday. Having qualified sixth, only behind the dominant McLarens and Red Bulls, as well as local expert Felipe Massa. Put simply, Felipe Massa described qualifying fifth as being on pole, which shows how well Hülkenberg did in a midfield Force India.

Hülkenberg leads the field
Credit: SFI

On Sunday, he was even more impressive. He showed great confidence in the early laps and fought up front with the Ferraris and Red Bulls before latching on to the back of the McLarens.

His confidence in the conditions was behind his extraordinary pace as it allowed him to build up critical tyre temperature, allowing him to fight at the front and also stay out on slicks while others dashed in for some intermediates. It is always the mark of a good driver when they perform in difficult conditions and he has taken so-so cars to the front in tricky conditions. To be honest, his form at the back end of this season has shown me that he has the capability of becoming the third German world champion, if he ends up in the right car.

There is a bit of an elephant in the room here. Nico was involved in two incidents on Sunday which may well have cost him a maiden victory. First he spun in the damp, relinquishing the lead to Lewis Hamilton and then lost the back end trying to retake the lead in traffic at turn one. Both moments were caused on downshift and I have to say I don’t blame him for losing total control in the conditions. I think that he would have made it through turn one without Hamilton there. It was a racing incident if ever there was one and absolutely didn’t warrant a penalty.

The real Felipe is back

Felipe Massa was at his Brazilian best in the season’s final race. As on several other races over the second half of 2012, he had to move over to meet Fernando Alonso’s needs. He has scored 99 points in the second half of 2012 (having scored 23 in the first half) to Alonso’s 167, having surrendered at least 30 points to the Spaniard due to team orders.

Brazil brings out the best of Felipe and he showed it again, with a controlled performance that took him to the front. Instead of getting flustered trying to catch Jenson Button, he maintained the gap, aware that he’d likely have to back off to let Alonso through anyway. I have to say that with the form in the past few races, the real Felipe is back, but he’ll have to remain on this form at the start of 2013 to avoid a repeat of this year’s media and team abuse.

Schumacher bids farewell with strong comeback drive

Michael will be sorely missed, both for his skill in his first career and his personality in his second

Michael Schumacher saved his best drive of the year until last as he put on a storming comeback from an early puncture. He survived four stops and a crawl back to the pits to finish seventh, sixth if he hadn’t allowed his successor Vettel through, having been at the back five laps in. He may have benefitted from the safety car, but it took guts to drive back through the field as he did, especially in a car that hasn’t scored points since we left Europe.

Michael will be sorely missed, both for his skill in his first career and his personality in his second. My main hope however is that he is remembered for his ability, not as a shadow of his former self as he tried to get the competitive juices burning once more.

Vergne maintains advantage

Jean-Éric Vergne finished the season off with another valuable four points to extend his advantage over his teammate Daniel Ricciardo. He has really benefitted from the car updates later in the season but had a wet setup to thank for his eighth place in Brazil.

Jean-Éric Vergne finished the season off with another valuable four points
Credit: Peter Fox/Getty

It could have been better too, had he not collided with Timo Glock and broken his front wing, but the damage limitation was strong and matched his best performance of the year - his only points have come from 8th places (4 of them).

He will have to score more points in 2013 to stay in the Red Bull programme, although having seen Ricciardo’s performances, the car had a lot to do with his lack of pace, as well as a lack of experience within the team.

Petrov knocks off Marussia

In races such as yesterday’s, keeping going is key for smaller teams scrounging for rare points because of their high attrition nature.

He pulled away in the tricky conditions to secure 10th in the championship

As it happened, there turned out to be a £15 million battle for 11th late in the race, after Timo Glock was spun by Vergne, between Vitaly Petrov and Caterham recruit Charles Pic. Petrov ended up getting by with five laps to go with a simple DRS pass. He pulled away in the tricky conditions to secure 10th in the championship for Caterham and their best ever finish.

Caterham risked everything to get ahead, going on mixed strategies to try to beat the Marussias, Heikki Kovalainen was on the wets for some time and, ironically, Petrov’s drive may have secured the Finn’s drive at Caterham for 2013. If it is Petrov’s last drive, it was a crucial one and arguably one of his best with the team.

They think it’s all over

Well only 16 weeks to go until we are back at it down under. It has been a great season, completely eclipsed by an incredible season.

Hopefully the majority of the races in 2013 will be half as good. It will be incredibly tough to predict early the season with so many new driver partnerships. The only real constant, for once, is the cars, as Pirelli look to develop further. My only prediction one day after the 2012 season is that Adrian Newey’s cars will be fast.