Vettel leads Red Bull 1-2 in Brazil to set up Abu Dhabi title showdown
Germany's Sebastian Vettel led home a comfortable Red Bull 1-2 in this afternoon's Brazilian Grand Prix, securing the Milton Keynes based team their first constructors' championship. With Ferrari's Fernando Alonso completing the podium in third place, the stage is set for a thrilling four-way showdown for the drivers' championship at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix in seven day's time, with Lewis Hamilton also still in contention.
For the second race in a row, Vettel drove flawlessly for the distance, with his Renault V8 this time living up to the punishment to push him across the line in the lead at the end of the 71st lap. He took the lead at the start when he outdragged surprise pole sitter Nico Hulkenberg into the first corner, had opened up a two-second gap to team-mate Webber (who had disposed of Hulkenberg at turn 4) by the end of the season lap.
The gap from Vettel to Webber remained between two and three seconds throughout the first stint before they pitted on laps 25 and 26 respectively, with the gap again largely remaining between two and three seconds. Lapped traffic allowed Webber to lower the deficit to 1.5 seconds after mid distance, but the emergence of the safety car on lap 51 following an accident by Tonio Liuzzi gave Vettel the free time he needed to win by over four seconds.
Alonso's third place ensured he limited the damage to his championship lead to just three points, and he goes to Abu Dhabi knowing that a second place finish will ensure him the title. After starting fifth on the grid, he had worked his way up to third by lap 7 when he overtook Hulkenberg at turn 5, having earlier overtaken Hamilton on the second lap.
The time he lost to the Bulls behind Hulkenberg meant the gap to the leaders had already grown to eight seconds, but despite being in clear air he was unable to reel Vettel and Webber in. By the time he pitted on lap 24, he was over ten seconds adrift and had slipped to 14 seconds behind when the safety car was deployed. Despite reeling Webber back to 2.5 seconds in the final ten laps, he ran out of time to overhaul his main title rival.
Although a fourth place finish means Hamilton remains in contention for the title, he goes to Abu Dhabi 24 points behind with 25 left to score. He struggled for grip throughout the race, contributing him to losing position to Alonso early on, and failed to overtake Hulkenberg meaning fourth place was always going to be the maximum achievable.
Team-mate Button could do no more than fifth place, finally ruling him out of the title fight, while Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher were the final drivers to finish on the lead lap in sixth and seventh. Pole sitter Nico Hulkenberg dropped to eighth at the finish after struggling to keep the pace in the dry, with Robert Kubica and Kamui Kobayashi rounding out the top ten for Renault and BMW Sauber.
The F1 paddock now moves to Abu Dhabi for the season finale in just one week's time with four drivers still in contention for the world championship. With Red Bull having secured their first championship in just six seasons of racing, all eyes will be on them yet again in Abu Dhabi to see if they can overhaul Spain's Fernando Alonso and provide yet another twist in the tale of one of the most thrilling Formula One seasons in its 61-year history.
F1: 2010 Drivers & Constructors Standings