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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.

Massa at his best on home soil // Brazil’s new track surface serves up a classic

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The Brazilian GP threw up another thriller as delicate, volatile tyres left teams on the edge with strategy. Blisters were evident after just a couple of laps into a stint and the man caught out the most was the favourite for the championship, Lewis Hamilton. The alternative strategies led to a fascinating race but in the end, the biggest factor in the result was a Mercedes power unit.

Emotional Felipe performs for the fans

Felipe Massa: Started 3rd, Finished 3rd

Felipe Massa had an eventful race, despite being easily the fastest car on the track all weekend behind the Mercedes. Massa has always been a master of the São Paulo track and it showed on Saturday as he was comfortably faster than his teammate when it counted at the end of Q3, forcing a mistake out of Bottas on his final run. The stunning lap left the Brazilian less than a tenth behind the works Mercedes, having had better grunt up the hill on to the start/finish straight, clawing back time the Mercedes chassis had gained in the middle sector. In reality it was all that Massa could have hoped for and was a testament to his skill and knowledge of his home track that allowed him to get so close.

It was all that Massa could have hoped for and was a testament to his skill and knowledge of his home track
Credit: Glenn Dunbar/Williams F1

Massa has certainly held his own and was in another league to Bottas on his own turf

Felipe was sensible into turn one, knowing a great result was on if he didn’t tangle with the Mercedes. So he was cautious, to the disappointment of the fans and didn’t get drawn into a battle for the win which would have hampered his strategy. All hope of the podium looked lost though at the end of his first stint as Massa was adjudged to have sped in the pits, having suffered a failure of the pit limiter button, losing him time regardless. Massa was fast enough to maintain third after his second stop though, despite his five second penalty. It kept him just in front of Jenson Button, who had jumped the ill-fated Williams of Valtteri Bottas when the Finn’s seatbelt came loose.

Massa nearly handed the podium to the McLaren of Jenson Button at his final stop as he pulled into the McLaren pit, ironically something Button did whilst racing Sebastian Vettel at the 2011 Chinese GP. But Massa had opened up enough of a gap and despite the red faces in the Williams garage, Massa was able to cruise home for a well-deserved podium, his second of the year, to confirm he hasn’t lost his touch.

I have to be honest; I thought Felipe Massa would be blown away by Valtteri Bottas at Williams. While the Finn has had the edge Massa has certainly held his own and was in another league to Bottas on his own turf at the weekend.

Jenson’s swansong

Jenson Button: Started 5th, Finished 4th

With tyres blistering very easily on long runs, the conditions were perfect for Button’s smooth driving style
Credit: McLaren Mercedes

With the news that Fernando Alonso has finalised his move to McLaren, it’s looking more and more likely that Jenson’s career hangs in the balance. Nevertheless, he was at his silky best in Brazil, making the most of the Mercedes power unit in the back of his McLaren. It didn’t start out well as the Woking squad were miles off in practice, struggling for speed in all sectors and ending up over two seconds behind the Mercedes, a huge chasm on the short 70 second lap, especially with the same power unit in the car.

But McLaren had pulled it back by the time it got to qualifying and Button lined up fifth on the grid, unable to match the Williams for one lap pace. With tyres blistering very easily on long runs, the conditions were perfect for Button’s smooth driving style to manage the tyres and ensure he kept good pace until the end of his stints.

It appears that for the second time in his career, Jenson Button will be turfed out by Fernando Alonso

Button took advantage of Bottas at the first round of stops as the Finn remained stationary in his pit box while his belts were fixed, which left Jenson in a straight fight with Felipe Massa for a Brazilian GP podium. Button closed the gap but was unable to mount a serious attack on the Williams, struggling to match the straight-line speed of the slippery Williams on a power circuit, finishing seven seconds behind Massa.

It appears that for the second time in his career, Jenson Button will be turfed out for Fernando Alonso having had it at Renault alongside Jarno Trulli prior to the 2003 season. I don’t want Jenson to go but if he is the man to go rather than Magnussen I hope he lands on his feet. With the best seats in F1 already filled, is the World Endurance Championship the logical next step?

Hulk rebounds after bad run of form

Nico Hülkenberg: Started 12th, Finished 8th

Force India appear to be this year’s victim of the development race, struggling for low end points when earlier in the year they were fighting for podiums and even a potential maiden victory in Canada. But Nico Hülkenberg made a real fist of it in Brazil, a track that he clearly loves, having been on pole by over a second in damp conditions in 2010 after an incredible lap in a terrible Williams. He had a chance of victory in 2012 in his first stint at Force India before losing control at turn one and getting a cruel penalty for taking out Lewis Hamilton.

Hülkenberg showed his raw ability in the race
Credit: Sahara Force India

This year, there were no heroics in qualifying as he lined up 12th on the grid, the Force India clearly the slowest of the Mercedes bunch once again. He was two tenths faster than Sergio Pérez in Q1 as the Mexican was knocked out but then missed out on Q3 by eight tenths as only five teams made the top ten.

But Hülkenberg showed his raw ability in the race, recovering from a bad run of form since late summer when he ran into his teammate in Hungary. While he was a minute behind the eventual winner Nico Rosberg, his race pace was good (bear in mind third place was 40 seconds behind the Mercedes pair. Hülkenberg started on the medium tyres and extended his first stint beyond anyone else and led the race for a few laps. But Hülkenberg then dropped back into the midfield on fresher prime tyres, allowing the German to climb through into the points. Hülkenberg was up to third with 11 laps to go on his contrary strategy and was able to pass Kevin Magnussen on soft tyres at the end of the race but just ran out of laps to catch the Ferraris, finishing a few tenths behind Kimi Räikkönen, who was just behind Fernando Alonso.