Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

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.

Webber's last samba - Not even the rain could ruin Mark's parade


I’m not sure there’s such a thing as a bad Brazilian Grand Prix, and Sunday’s race proved it. The atmosphere and the charisma of the circuit saw to that. Add to that the narrow track with close, inviting walls and a very indecisive (and localised) weather system and you are guaranteed a dramatic race at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace. Unfortunately, as so often happens when rain is considered a factor, the watching public spent the whole race waiting for the heavens to open as they had all weekend but instead mother nature played a high stakes game of chicken with each of the eleven F1 teams.

Still, the fact that every single lap of practice and qualifying was done in wet conditions set up a fascinating race as the teams had no idea how long their tyres would last. Teams were so desperate for dry running that they did as many laps as they could before setting up on the grid, just to get an idea of the characteristics of the track in the dry.

Farewell Mark

It’s arguably been the most drawn out retirement in F1 history, much to Mark Webber’s frustration, but he went out in style in Brazil. I know that Webber isn’t a fan of the direction the sport is going but he had a little fun in Brazil, overtaking a lot of cars and having a race-long battle with his good friend Fernando Alonso, made all the more sweeter for him as he came out on top.

Webber removes his helmet in Brazil
Credit: Clive Mason/Getty Images

After a so-so qualifying and a traditionally slow start, it seemed the most likely outcome was a car failure ending Webber’s race too soon. Instead the Red Bull driver made light work of overtaking Lewis Hamilton to regain fourth and a few laps later he made it up to third when he passed the other Mercedes of Nico Rosberg. Then began Webber’s duel with Alonso. Webber made it past on lap 12 but a slow first stop allowed the Ferrari through and the Aussie was left to do it all again, hunting down the Spaniard and getting by once more.

Getting caught up with the Mercedes and Alonso left Webber 12 seconds behind teammate Vettel

Getting caught up with the Mercedes and Fernando Alonso left Webber 12 seconds behind teammate Sebastian Vettel, which seemed insurmountable until Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas collided and frightened Red Bull into frantically reacting to a safety car that never came. The end result was that Vettel had to wait in the pits for new tyres and Webber had to wait behind him for a second or two. Some wondered why they didn’t allow Mark Webber to pit the following lap which may have allowed the Aussie to jump his teammate, but in reality the only reason Red Bull pitted either car that lap was because they were worried that a safety car would ruin their race. The outcome was a far closer top three but Vettel was not to be beaten and Webber was left to settle for second. What followed was pretty special, what with Webber taking his helmet off on the slow down lap and Sebastian Vettel’s sportsmanship in the podium interviews. Good bye Mark and good luck.

Button saves McLaren’s bacon

McLaren ended the season with no podiums for the first time since 1980, but Jenson Button did secure the Woking outfit's best result of the season with an assured drive for fourth place, leading teammate Sergio Pérez home in fifth. Yes, the McLaren pair may have benefitted from the likes of Lewis Hamilton and Felipe Massa receiving somewhat controversial penalties but coming from 14th and 19th to grab their biggest points haul of the season was undoubtedly a good result for McLaren.

Button made a great start and was up into the points within the early laps, then saw to the likes of Paul di Resta and Nico Hülkenberg. He was up to sixth by the time he made his first stop. From there, Button controlled his pace, knowing that he couldn’t match Alonso and Webber, and fended off Nico Rosberg, before Massa and then Hamilton’s misdemeanours saw him climb the order.

Button in the rain in Brazil
Credit: Vodafone McLaren Mercedes

Best of the rest for Alonso

For once the role of Red Bull challenger wasn’t cast as Romain Grosjean. Instead it was the matador Fernando Alonso, who gave Red Bull something to think about throughout the race. Alonso knew that hitting the front early was his only chance and he did so, jumping Nico Rosberg on lap four.

Alonso knew hitting the front early was his only chance and he did so

Already, Sebastian Vettel had built an unassailable five second lead, and Alonso’s focus turned instead to the Red Bull behind of Mark Webber, and so a race-long battle began. In the end, Alonso lost out, but he can be very proud of his day's work.

Bianchi finishes the season in style

Finally, Jules Bianchi provided a drive that will make the bigger teams sit up and take notice. Early on, he battled with teammate Chilton, but he came out on top, and having opened up a gap to the Brit, went in search of the Caterhams. He was within sight of Giedo van der Garde before the Dutchman had to make an unscheduled late stop which dropped him behind Bianchi. And just a few laps later the Frenchman profited from Charles Pic’s misfortune as his compatriot suffered a suspension failure near the end.

The Frenchman has far outperformed the car and has arguably been the main reason that Marussia secured the extra prize money

That left Bianchi to ensure that Marussia secured 10th in the championship. Caterham know better than anybody that the Frenchman has far outperformed the car and has arguably been the main reason that Marussia secured the extra prize money to help them develop their 2014 car.

F1 will certainly look different in 2014 with new aero regulations, not to mention the move to 1.6 litre V6 engines. What may remain consistent is the state of Red Bull’s dominance into the next generation of F1 cars. Then again, many thought this time last year that McLaren would be the team to beat in 2013. In truth, we won’t truly know until after the Australian GP on the 16 March.