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Brazilian Grand Prix – Who was your Driver of the Day?
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Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Nov 2012   |  2:29 am GMT  |  311 comments

Intermittent rain showers created a thrilling title decider which had everything at Brazil’s Interlagos track.

Sebastian Vettel had the worst possible start, spinning to the back of the field before fighting back to win the title. Fernando Alonso fought bravely to keep his title hopes alive before missing out, while Jenson Button mastered the conditions at the front to take victory.

Nico Hulkenberg drove one of the races of his life, barring one misjudgment while Felipe Massa drove strongly in front of his home fans – but who was your Driver of the Day?

Jenson Button

Set himself up for the race nicely after a strong qualifying which saw him finish just 0.055 seconds behind McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton to start second. Made a decent start, but lost a place to a fast-starting Felipe Massa. Regained second later in the lap and then overtook Hamilton down the back straight for the lead. Lost the lead to Hamilton on the same lap, but regained it the next time around. Passed by Nico Hulkenberg, but was comfortably second as he decided not to pit for inters in the slippery conditions. Saw that cushion disappear as the safety car came out. Lost second to Hamilton, but took the lead when Hulkenberg collidesdwith Hamilton at Turn One. Controlled the race from there to take his third win of the season.

Fernando Alonso

Fought bravely but just missed out on the title. Inherited seventh on the grid when Pastor Maldonado got a 10-place grid penalty for picking up his third reprimand and capitalised by making up two places at the start. Passed both Ferrari team-mate Felipe Massa and Red Bull’s Mark Webber on lap two down the inside at Turn one. Lost a place to Hulkenberg and Massa when he went off track. Repassed Massa and then gained a place as a result of Hamilton’s retirement before he moved in second when Hulkenberg took his drive-through penalty. Couldn’t make up the deficit of 20 seconds to leader Button and settled for second – his 13th podium of the finish – but missed out on the championship.

Felipe Massa

Played the ideal support role to team-mate Alonso. Made an electric start from fifth on the grid to run second early on, before he lost a place to Button and then Alonso. Did a great job of riding shotgun for Alonso who struggled in the opening portion of the race. Dropped down the field when he pitted for slicks and then realised it was a mistake as the conditions didn’t improve and pitted again for inters. Clawed his way back up the field to run fifth and then inherited fourth when Hamilton retired and third when Hulkenberg took his penalty. Held on to score his second podium of the season.

Nico Hulkenberg

It’s not everyday a Force India passes a McLaren to lead a race. Showed good pace all weekend and started sixth. Made a good getaway to run fifth before putting a brave move on Mark Webber for fourth. Inherited third when Alonso went off the track and the set off in pursuit of the McLarens. Decided not to pit when the rain started to fall to climb up to second and then put a brilliant move on Button to take the lead. Looked super comfortable at the front and led the field away impressively after the restart following a safety car. But a mistake at Turn six saw him almost spin and that let Hamilton past. Tried an ambitious move on Hamilton later in the race, but misjudged his braking and hit Hamilton, taking the McLaren out and incurring a drive-through penalty for his sins. Rejoined in fifth where he finished the race.

Sebastian Vettel

Held his nerve after a horror start to win fight back and win the championship. Hit by Bruno Senna on the first lap after a poor start, damaging the rear of his car and spinning him to the back of the field. Kept his head to fight back through the field, rising as high as eighth before his charge is halted by Kamui Kobayashi. Didn’t take any risks and eventually got past. Pitted for slicks, but then came back in for inters. Benefitted from the safety car which closed the field up, but was the fastest car on the track for most of the latter part of the race, rose up to sixth, behind Hulkenberg where he stayed comfortably, finishing the race there under the safety car to become the youngest ever triple world champion and first to win his first three championships in a row.


A review of the results of Driver of the Day can be found in our new book: “JA on F1 2012 – The Year of Living Dangerously”, published on December 7th.

The 248 page large format paperback book tells all the inside stories of the 2012 season. It is a limited-edition collectable and is priced at £10-99. Signed copies are available to pre-order from this site by clicking on this link JA on F1 2012 Book.


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1

Why no Schumacher choice? Was last after the puncture in probably the slowest race car apart from the new teams and yet finished one place behind Vettel driving the best or at worst 2nd best car.

Massa my choice as easily faster than Alonso yet again and perhaps would have had a chance of winning if not for messing about helping his teammate.

2

Massa – great to see him back in top form. Closely followed by Button (for his patience and persistence mostly).

Enjoyable tense race of the modern genre with the field being mixed up many times with many players, not least being the main stars Alonso & Vettel who provided the high drama.

3

To James Allen:

Dear James, In one way I’m glad it’s the end of the (best ever) F1 season – because I’m glad you’ll now have a break! I can see some frustration and loss of patience creeping into some of your latest comments – and this isn’t criticism, it’s sympathy! Yours is a great site which most of us really appreciate and it’s a pity a few hard-core spoil it for everyone else.

Enjoy your break!

Many Thanks.

4

Definitly Massa. Hamilton should be up there even though he didn’t win. Button got extremely lucky again, didn’t have the pace for most of the race and only won because of the two cars in front of him colliding. He will miss Lewis next year. Hulkenberg rammed out a driver, yet the consensus is that it’s okay because he’s punching above his weight. What about when Grosjean made his mistake in Spa, there were calls to ban him. Joke.

5

Did not like seeing Alonso need so much help from Massa at seasons end. Really thought with it all to play for he would not be getting beat out in qualy and race pace to Massa. In fact Massa had to slow down twice yesterday to let Alonso by.

Great season… Vettel deserved title, Alonso drove great and Kimi for comeback kid

6

would just add – contrast Massa’s actions with those of Webber, who squeezed Vettel at turn 1 on 1st lap (which led to Vettel falling back into the pack and partly to his being spun round at turn 4), and tried to pass Vettel at the restart (and ran wide himself and lost places as a result).

Yes he did let Vettel by once, but that was because Vettel was much quicker (despite his damaged and detuned car), unlike Massa who actually had to slow down massively to let Alonso catch up.

7

..as Massa did for Kimi so he could win the title in Brazil 2007….

8

Vettel and Alonso have the pressure of the driver title when everyone else could go out thinking they have absolutely nothing to loose. So there is only 2 real choice, IMO.

I choose Vettel because he everything went wrong for him on the day and Alonso was considerably lucky. Alonso had plenty of help from Massa being a moving block and then give way. Vettel had to fight from the back with a broken car (RedBull detune the engine to ensure it does not catch fire).

Vettel definitely deserved the title, DOTD, and classify as one of the greats.

9
Mike from Colombia

Cannot stand Button, but Driver of the Day has to go to him.

Hamilton may have been faster, but Button made all the right decisions on the day and seems to have a knack of doing this in changeable conditions.

Massa is a gentleman and has really shown true spirit by helping Alonso and not allowing himself to become a beaten man in the face of fierce pressure from the media and Tifosi.

10
Antonis Papadakis

I voted seb but now that it is over there is nothing like Kimi, i believe that he will leave a legacy for the young funs of f1

11

I think we’ll see a lot more from Kimi in 2013, Lotus has everything they need to bring home a championship.

12

Vettel … and I am glad most people have voted for him.

I am bit bemused. Nico did a fantastic job and would have won the race. He didn’t deserve the penalty. But my question is, a few months back, Vettel was not featured in the DOD and James said that is because of his penalty. Then how come Nico is here? I see some double standards.

Alonso was 2nd but was it on merit?

13

Massa did a better job again this time. Shame he had to move over for his team mate. He could have been second. The tears on the podium said it all.

14

This has to be the toughest DOTD vote ever. There were so many spectacular drives in some of the trickiest conditions I’ve ever seen at a GP. Hell, I wish we had seen more of the Caterham/Marussia fight because I think there’d be a DOTD honorable mention somewhere in there too.

Every driver up there has valid reasons to be chosen, but I think Vettel/Nico were the top 2 for me (I cheated and voted once for each…. lol).

BTW, I actually have to give the blame for the Vettel/Senna incident on Senna. If you look at the 1st turn, the roles are reversed, with Vettel having the option to dive down underneath Webber. Webber takes his normal racing line, and Vettel goes as far as he can before realizing that Webber is not going to give him room, and backs off. It massively hurt his momentum, but it kept him in the race. This, in my opinion, is what Senna should have done instead of diving inside Vettel from 2 cars back. The other car directly behind Vettel (don’t remember who it was) didn’t make the move, so he had every right to assume the racing line. Senna just came from too far back and made an overly optimistic move. I’m certainly for no penalty on Senna though. Racing incidents tend to even out over the course of a season.

15

My choice was Massa. I appreciated Hulkenberg’s effort; leading off of Hamilton is no small feat. But… he didn’t finish the race. Alonso was fortunate to finish as high as he did; without the weather, Massa’s help and a retirement he wouldn’t have been on the podium. Vettel did as much as was necessary and held it there. And had Lewis not been knocked out Button would have finished second at best. So that leaves Felipe Massa. He had a fantastic start, and had the race well in hand from start to finish. All of the drivers had a goal for the race, for two it was a championship, for others it was to finish on a high note with their teams, or put their teams in a better position fiscally. But Felipe? I think he did more than anyone else, which was to vindicate himself in his home race in front of his people. I’m glad to see his form has improved, and look forward to seeing his performance in 2013, but sad to know that he’ll spend another year being a pawn in Alonso’s game.

16

While it might seem a bit uncharitable to Lewis (given that he was bundled out by Hulkenberg), I, for one, am glad that the effect is that Button outscored him over their three-year partnership at Maclaren. The result is a huge fillip for Maclaren and Button going into next season.

17

Button is the DOTD. He has proved this year why he is up there with the best along with Alonso and Vettel. [mod] Button has outscored Hamilton by 15 points. In fact, it could have been more if not for getting taken out in KoreA, gearbox penalty in Japan and suffering the fuel pickup issue in Italy.[mod] What I do know is that from the three years together, Button has beaten Hamilton [mod] FACT.

18

Lol, so you’re saying Jenson could’ve scored more if not for this and that, while keeping all of Hamilton’s DNF’s while in the lead, etc.?

Typical.

Fact is Hamilton pwned Button this year. Any team principal who would plump for Button over Hamilton would be sent to the medical centre for immediate evaluation!

19

Yeah, great drive by petrov, especially as he could be on his way out of the team

Think hulkenberg’s form has really damaged di resta’s position as an up an coming driver, hulkenberg has blown him away in the second half of the season

20

Kimi…Lost the track at one point, still managed to score points 😀

Eh, more seriously, Hulkster gets my vote.

21

The only races where Alonso didn’t score points were Spa and Suzuka, which were not his fault, nor the fault of anything else under Ferrari’s control (reliability, strategy etc). The points he would have gained from just one of those races would have been enough to win the title.

On the other hand Vettel’s DNFs were reliability related, for which the team is ultimately responsible. His accident with Senna at Interlagos was completely his own fault. That his car was able to make it to the end of the race despite the violent impact can only be classified as EXTRAORDINARY LUCK.

Vettel is a great driver, no doubt, and no one can say “Anyone could win the WDC in a Red Bull”, otherwise Webber would have been up there too. However, he was only WDC this year because of a huge amount of luck, and a huge amount of bad luck for Alonso.

There is no question in my mind that Alonso deserved the 2012 WDC more than Vettel. But it won’t be the first time or the last time that the less deserving driver has won the title, that’s just the way it is unfortunately.

22

Got to be Vettel. Come on, he was facing the wrong way on lap one, then had the rest of the race to go with a damaged car.

So, given that Red Bull had to map his engine to lower power so that the exchaust didn’t get too hot (and thus ignite the car due to the damage), I’d say finishing with enough points to clinch the championship is bloody good going.

23

DOTD: Felipe Massa – Scintillating start, brilliant pace, exquisite race-craft. Perfectly timed, deft move on Webber, handing a double pass on a sterling silver platter to his teammate. Drove the most cerebrally challenged race of all the drivers.

Attacking, playing body-guard to his teammate, on-the-charge, and laying back for Alonso to pass him, every facet of what is required of a top-flight driver was on display. Should be used as an instructional video for rookies.

Once again, THE class act shines through.

Tim

24

I can’t understand how Vettel is winning this?

It has to be Button or Hulk.

Vettel collided with Senna (own fault), took wrong tires (own fault) and passed cars who got out of the way to not cause a disturbance in the championship (except for Kobayahsi).

I can’t see how that takes you to DOTD, I just can’t.

Button got my vote.

25

did you see Vettel’s awesome pace in the wet in his damaged and detuned car? Back up to 6th place in a handful of laps, caught up with Alonso etc.

Also caught Webber, whose car was running perfectly unlike Vettel’s. Yes, Webber let him by on that occasion but Vettel was already on his tail, and once he got by Webber he pulled away easily.

He absolutely deserves DOTD.

26

A very, very tough call, this one. I don’t think I’ve seen a race with so many genuine DoD contenders.

Hulkenberg was outstanding and had he kept his nose clean and finished on the podium then I’d have to go for him. Sadly, he got a bit carried away and took too big a chance when trying to pass Hamilton. I hope Sauber can provide him with the upper-midfield car that he deserves next season.

Button was magnificent, too. Like Hulkenberg, his early tyre call was inspired and both drivers showed impressive skill and nerve to carry it off. It was really a shame when the safety car wiped out their advantage, but that’s racing. Button once again proved to be the master of changeable conditions, but he wasn’t content to just sit back and wait for the result to come to him, as his battles with Hamilton showed.

Alonso fought hard all afternoon, but between the Ferarri’s pace and their conservative strategy calls, he was never able to really threaten the lead or force Red Bull to take risks. That’s where I feel they could’ve won the title, but as it was they made it far too easy for Vettel to just shadow them.

Speaking of Vettel, his was a drive worthy of a World Champion. He should’ve left room for Senna, but it would’ve been easy for a driver or team to panic after being dumped down the field on the first lap. I think any questions of Vettel’s overtaking ability can well and truly be put to bed, now; you don’t come all the way through the field in difficult conditions, at a tricky circuit like Interlagos unless you can overtake and keep your nose clean.

Finally, Felipe Massa, who once again looked like the Massa of old. He did his duty, was quick all race and if not for a bad tyre call, could’ve challenged Button for the win. I might have a cheeky bet on him to win in Bahrain next year.

So, who was the driver of the day? My head says Button but my heart says Massa. I don’t think you could go wrong with any of these five, though.

27

Nico Hulkenberg in a Force India…. Gauge the Car v/s. where he was in the race – Leading Mclarens, Ferraris and Redbulls…. Unbelievable Performance…. Mclaren should have picked him up instead of Perez…. I’m sure a lot of top teams will be looking closely at him for 2014.

Definitely a better performance than Perez’s Sepang Performance.

28

JB for me.

James,

will you do some sort of summary/statistics of DOD during 2012 season?

It would be nice to see who was voted most of the times DOD during 2102 season.

I am aware that it has been lots of negativity around DOD in comments area but it would be pity to drop it for next year.

29

One man drove fast and faultlessly and won the race almost everyone else made mistakes. It ain’t dodgem cars. Nuf said !

30

Aww!

And where in this list is Petrov, and where is Schumi?

Both did extremely well in this chaotic race!

Petrov achieved the best result any of the 3 new teams have achieved in these 3 years.

And Schumi’s race should be put in context with his first lap puncture, and his P7 finish compared to Rosberg’s P17.

Oh well, I’ll go with Massa then. Who else would have driven so well driving for someone else (Alonso) besides him?

31

It seems very few people have noticed how Hulkenberg’s little rush of blood to the head has cost McLaren a huge amount of money. The antics of the inexperienced may be entertaining but you sometimes think the old days when it hurt had something to be said for them. The punishments for the “errors” of judgement need to be seriously thought through, Grosjean’s time out doesn’t seem to have done the trick.

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