So here we are at the end of a long season, the final race and the culmination of the driver's championship. But there are so many variables with points etc, am not even gonna try to work it out. What is certain, as said last time, Red Bull have already won the constructor's championship, but according to team boss Chris Horner they're not planning to just sit back on their laurels, but will continue to push as hard as ever, to give Vettel every chance to win the championship !!
In free practice the McLarens were looking quickest of all, and it will be to see where their cars qualify. And as qualifying is ready to begin the rain is coming down !!
Q1 - Plenty of cars out early to set a 'banker lap' in case the rain remains and racing is halted. As it is the track is wet with areas of standing water, and the cars are out on slicks creating a dry in places. As expected the top spots keep changing, but the top drivers have just gone out. Grosjean and De La Rosa connect, knocking off bits of Grosjean's front wing, and soon after the entire wing falls off and slides clear of the track, and he pits for a new wing. Alonso sets fast laps which are immediately negated by Hamilton, who keeps the place. At the ed of the session all of the top drivers are safe, though Grosjean goes out. Vettel is 5th and Alonso 10th !!
Q2 - The stewards announce an investigation into the Grosjean-De La Rosa incident. The track is improving as it dries, and the times are reflecting this. Again Alonso sets a fast lap, but again Hamilton takes the place, then Vettel takes it from him. Alonso only just qualifies in 9th, with team mate Massa behind in 10th. Out go Di Resta, Senna, Perez, Kobayashi, Ricciardo, Vergne and the great Michael Schumacher in his last ever F1 race, and we can only imagine the depth of disappointment he must be feeling !!
Q3 - And the sun is out on a dry track, giving Vettel's speedy Red Bull the advantage, but be interesting to see how they finish. Hamilton sets a fast time to set the bench mark, Alonso goes 5th, but Vettel makes a mistake and goes 6th. Webber sets a fast lap to take the top spot, but then Hamilton goes fastest with team mate Button in 2nd. So the front of the grid is, 1. Hamilton, 2. Button, 3. Webber, 4. Vettel, 5. Massa, 6. Maldonado, 7. Hulkenberg, 8. Alonso, 9. Raikkonen and 10. Rosberg. If it stays dry for the race, then Vettel is favoured. If it rains then it could favour Alonso. But McLaren have locked out the front of the grid, and that could be significant in the race, bring it on !!
Lights out, and as expected the McLarens get away cleanly, but vettel bogs down on the line letting Masa through to challenge for 2nd, while Alonso moves up behind Hamilton, though Webber slots in between them. Raikkonen goes off at the second corner, Vettel is hit by one of the cars causing damage and putting him at the back of the pack !!
Alonso does a kamikaze overtake and goes into 3rd. Both Senna and Perez are out of the race. Lap 3, Hulkenberg makes a pass on Webber. Vettel is still racing and moving up through the pack, and this is reminiscent of Vettel's amazing comeback a couple of races ago !!
Lap5, Alonso goes wide at the first corner letting Webber and Hulkenberg through. Massa makes a pass on Webber and makes it stick. Massa allows Alonso to get past, while he tries to hold up the pack, but on the slippery circuit it's not easy and it's only a matter of time before they must pit for intermediates !!
Lap 7, both Webber and Grosjean are hit and spin out, Grosjean of the race while Webber can continue. Lap 8, Button and Hamilton battle out front for the lead. Lap 9, amazingly Vettel has clawed his way up to 5th place !!
Lap 10 and the cars pit for new tyres, and both championship contenders are in the pits at the same time. Button radio's that it's stopped raining and he keeps going, with Schumacher close behind in second place, but Hulkenberg passes the former champion. Pic and Kobayashi almost have a coming together as Kobayashi makes a pass !!
Lap 13, Hamilton makes a pass on Massa to take 4th. Webber moves over to allow Vettel to take the place and battle Rosberg, and he passes him for 10th place. Lap 16, Vettel passes Kobayashi at turn one, and Kobayashi doesn't do anything to impede him. Hulkenberg has a go at Button at the end of the start/finish straight, but can't get past !!
Lap 17, and the rain has stopped, but the intermediate clad cars are still going fast, but how long before it's time for slicks ?? Lap 19, Hulkenberg uses his KERS and makes a pass on Button to take the lead. Hamilton pits for slicks, as does Alonso !!
Lap 20, Vettel pits for slicks as does Webber, and return behind Alonso. Rosberg has a puncture, and makes his way back to the pits. Lap 24, with all of the debris on the track it's not a surprise that punctures occur, and the safety car is deployed to give the marshals a chance to clear it !!
Now we have a chance to breathe again, Hulkenberg is leading, with Button in second, Hamilton is third, with Alonso fourth, and Vettel fifth. If the race was to stop now, then Vettel would be declared the champion !!
Lap 28, the drivers complain to their pits that the safety car isn't going fast enough, and they're losing heat out of their tyres making them slippy again. However, the slow safety car does give the back markers a chance to catch up !!
Lap 30 the safety car pits, and Hulkenberg floor the throttle too pull away from the McLaren's, but they stay with him. Both Kobayashi and Webber make a move on Vettel, and Webber goes wide as Vettel drops a place to Kobayashi !!
Di Resta is right behind Vettel and looking for a chance to pass, Webber is passed by Schumacher and others and he's well back. Hamilton takes second place from Button, while Kobayashi puts Alonso under pressure and he makes the pass to take the place !!
Lap 33 and Alonso retakes second at the end of the main straight. Lap 34 Massa makes a pass on Vettel at the same place, and Vettel doesn't put up too much resistance. This is a long race and he knows he my have chance to retake !!
Lap 38, and Massa makes a pass on Kobayashi. Di Resta spins, moving Schumacher up a place, and he's able to continue. Raikkonen and Schumacher battle side by side at turn one, and Raikkonen takes 11th place. Di Resta also makes a pass on Schumacher !!
Lap 42, there's a hint of rain in the air in various parts of the track, and the teams are monitoring so they can respond quickly if necessary. Lap 44, Webber slides sideways, but he's ok and he continues !!
Lap 47, Petrov drops a wheel on a white line causing a spin, and he drops a couple of places but can continue. Lap 48, Hulkenberg also hits a white line causing a spin, and Hamilton takes the lead, with Button bahind in third !!
Lap 52, Vettel is told his radio isn't working properly, as drivers pit for new tyres. Vettel also pits for slicks, and he returns into 10th place. Raikkonen spins and goes way off the circuit, and he has to make his way back and he pits !!
Lap 55, Hulkenberg tries to make a pass on Hamilton, but they connect and Hulkenberg spins, but Hamilton's front left is damaged and out of the race, and Button leads. Vettel pits again for intermediates, Alonso's pits have inters ready for him but he keeps going and then spins, and all this could have a bearing on the championship.
Lap 57, Vettel and Kobayashi battle and Kobayashi goes wide giving Vettel the place. The stewards give Hulkenberg a drive through penalty for causing the shunt. Alonso is third, but if Vettel stays where he is, then he'll still keep the championship !!
Lap 60 and the rain is coming down, and the cars may have to go onto full wet tyres. As expected, Massa moves over to let Alonso take second place. Vettel's pit confirm that his current place is good enough, in other words don't push too hard !!
Lap 64, Michael Schumacher goes wide to gift fellow German Vettel the place, not surprising as they're good friends, and Schumacher wants Vettel to win the championship. Button leads with a 20 second lead over Alonso, with Massa third, Webber fourth, Hulkenberg fifth and Vettel sixth !!
Lap 70 Kobayashi just nudges Schumacher, and Kobayasi spins but he can continue. Di Resta spins and crashes into to the wall bringing out another safety car. And now it seems unlikely that Vettel can lose the championship, and all he has to do now is to finish !!
Last lap, Jenson Button follows behind the safety car to win the race, and Vettel deservedly wins the championship for the third year running !!
1. Jenson Button Britain McLaren-Mercedes
2. Fernando Alonso Spain Ferrari-Ferrari
3. Felipe Massa Brazil Ferrari-Ferrari
4. Mark Webber Australia Red Bull-Renault
5. Nico Hulkenberg Germany Force India-Mercedes
6. Sebastian Vettel Germany Red Bull-Renault
7. Michael Schumacher Germany Mercedes-Mercedes
8. Jean-Eric Vergne France Toro Rosso-Ferrari
9. Kamui Kobayashi Japan Sauber-Ferrari
10. Kimi Raikkonen Finland Lotus-Renault
11. Vitaly Petrov Russia Caterham-Renault
12. Charles Pic France Marussia -Cosworth
13. Daniel Ricciardo Australia Toro Rosso-Ferrari
14. Heikki Kovalainen Finland Caterham-Renault
15. Nico Rosberg Germany Mercedes-Mercedes
16. Timo Glock Germany Marussia -Cosworth
17. Pedro de la Rosa Spain HRT-Cosworth
18. Narain Karthikeyan India HRT-Cosworth
Rtd Paul di Resta Britain Force India-Mercedes
Rtd Lewis Hamilton Britain McLaren-Mercedes
Rtd Romain Grosjean France Lotus-Renault
Rtd Pastor Maldonado Venezuela Williams-Renault
Rtd Bruno Senna Brazil Williams-Renault
Rtd Sergio Perez Mexico Sauber-Ferrari
1 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull-Renault 281
2 Fernando Alonso Ferrari-Ferrari 278
3 Kimi Räikkönen Lotus-Renault 207
4 Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 190
5 Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 188
6 Mark Webber Red Bull-Renault 179
7 Felipe Massa Ferrari-Ferrari 122
8 Romain Grosjean Lotus-Renault 96
9 Nico Rosberg Mercedes-Mercedes 93
10 Sergio Perez Sauber-Ferrari 66
11 Nico Hulkenberg Force India-Mercedes 63
12 Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 60
13 Michael Schumacher Mercedes-Mercedes 49
14 Paul di Resta Force India-Mercedes 46
15 Pastor Maldonado Williams-Renault 45
16 Bruno Senna Williams-Renault 31
17 Jean-Eric Vergne Toro Rosso-Ferrari 16
18 Daniel Ricciardo Toro Rosso-Ferrari 10
19 Heikki Kovalainen Caterham-Renault 0
= Vitaly Petrov Caterham-Renault 0
= Timo Glock Marussia-Cosworth 0
= Charles Pic Marussia-Cosworth 0
= Pedro de la Rosa HRT-Cosworth 0
= Narain Karthikeyan HRT-Cosworth 0
= Jerome d'Ambrosio Lotus-Renault 0
1 Red Bull Racing 460
2 Scuderia Ferrari 400
3 Vodafone McLaren Mercedes 378
4 Lotus F1 Team 303
5 Mercedes AMG Petronas F1 Team 142
6 Sauber F1 Team 126
7 Sahara Force India F1 Team 109
8 Williams F1 Team 76
9 Scuderia Toro Rosso 26
10 Marussia F1 Team 0
= Caterham F1 Team 0
= HRT F1 Team 0
And with today's result, Red Bull yet again win both the Constructor's and Driver's Championship. And with his third win, Sebastian Vettel joins an elite club of only three drivers to have won three Championships - Sebastian Vettel, Michael Schumacher and the great Juan Manuel Fangio who is regarded by all as the best driver of all time. Today though belongs to the young German, and I think the celebrations will continue for a long time. So, thanks for your support, and see you next year !!