The 2013 Formula 1 season concluded today at Interlagos. Red Bull finished one-two with four-time World Champion Sebastian Vettel claiming his 13th win of the season. Webber claimed the runner-up spot in his final F1 race with Fernando Alonso in third.
We caught up with several drivers to talk about the season-ending Brazilian GP. Here’s what they had to say…
Ninth Straight Win Was No Walk In The Park, Says Vettel
Sebastian Vettel’s ninth straight victory in Interlagos has tied him with the record set by Alberto Ascari over the 1952-’53 seasons.
However this time he had to work hard for it, having lost the lead on the first lap and then faced a delay in the pits when the team called him in at the last minute and his tires were not ready. Throughout the race, he was kept on his toes by Mark Webber.
“Obviously we didn’t have any dry running, which was quite exciting when we started,” said Vettel. “A bit of an adventure to find braking points, etc. Start was obviously quite bad for me. I had lots of wheel-slip, and didn’t get the initial launch off the line as good as I was hoping for. Nico [Rosberg] passed me straight away, Fernando [Alonso] was closing in. I was lucky that as soon as I got on the KERS I could recover a little bit, and then it’s not a long way to Turn 1 – which helped today. So, lost the position, saved some KERS for the end of the lap.
“I was hoping to get him back up the hill which worked well, so I managed to get back in the lead straight away and was basically benefiting I think from Nico probably a little bit slower than the cars behind – Fernando and Mark – so I could open a gap and control that for more or less the rest of the race – until we came in for the second stop, which was a last minute call.”
Vettel was called in because the team was worried that the Valtteri Bottas accident would trigger a safety car just as he passed the pit entrance.
“I think we were afraid of a safety car at that stage. I came in, hoping everybody was ready. I think I had three wheels on the car but I was waiting for the front right. For some reason, last year and this year, it seemed to be the front right – they let me wait for a little bit. I saw that obviously Mark was queuing behind me, and I wanted to go and there was a bit of chaos in the pitlane, but it was obviously fine to get the right tires in the end, get out again and I still had a bit of a gap.
“We obviously lost to Fernando at that stage, both of us, but were still able to have a little bit of a gap and control that until the end which was very helpful to get through traffic and with the rain coming in and going – you could really see it from the car. The fog was coming and the rain clouds. You didn’t know how strong the rain was and in the end it was fine all the time to stay on dries, but a little harder rain and it could have been a different story. So lucky to get away with that.”
Vettel admitted that his nine victories had yet to sink in.
“Well, I think it is very very difficult for me to realize probably now and in the next couple of weeks what we have achieved again, and in particular this year at the end of the season. I think in terms of a certain record with Alberto Ascari you can’t really compare it, it’s at a completely different time.
“If you consider the fact that in the fifties the races were much longer and there were a lot of things that were breaking down, much more than nowadays where it’s very professional, reliability is exceptionally good for everybody. I think his record still stands out a lot. So at the end of the day, as I see it now, it’s just a number but hopefully one day, when I’ve got less hair and chubby then it’s probably something nice to look back to.”
Webber Signs Off In Style
Mark Webber finished his final Grand Prix in style with a strong drive to second which saw him keep Sebastian Vettel on his toes for much of the afternoon.
Webber dropped to fifth at the start but worked his way back to second, and then had to pass Fernando Alonso for a second time after a delay in the pits.
He completed his slowing down lap to parc ferme without his helmet.
“I was happy with today,” said Webber, “Tricky Grand Prix for all of us all, straight into dry conditions for a Sunday afternoon race. Maybe it’s what Bernie should do! He should just have Sunday afternoons, just turn up for Sundays and just race from there because it was a pretty good start to the Grand Prix, I think, all of us getting into the groove with no dry running, challenging for the teams and the drivers. So we all got there in the end.
“Both Seb and I had tough starts, I was happy to lose only to Lewis [Hamilton] actually. I had a good little scrap in the first lap: Fernando and Lewis were having a good battle and then we settled into it. It looked like the Mercedes were struggling to hold the tempo of Fernando, myself and Seb, so we had to clear the Mercs as best we could. And then it was coming up to Fernando, so, managed to pass Fernando as well.
“There was some really nice moves and some good racing and I think for the team to get a one-two today with obviously not their cleanest day in the pitlane – which we can let them off every now and again, because they’ve had a superb season in the pitlane – so we gave the red [Ferrari] guys a sniff but we managed to respond each time.”
Webber said he was happy to be on the podium with Vettel and Alonso.
“It’s been a real pleasure for me to finish today’s race like this. Yeah, and also to finish on the podium with arguable the two best guys of the generation we’re in at the moment. I hold them in very high esteem. I’m happy with the finish and I’m happy to go and do something different now. It was a special day for myself, all the people that helped me get here. Australia. And the team, of course, had a nice car to finish. Renault as well, a one-two for them, last time with the V8s. Lots of things which are special, so thank you very much.”
Webber said it wasn’t easy to drive back without his helmet.
“It’s not easy to get the HANS device system away from the helmet so I spent half a lap trying to get the left hand side off, so I finally got it there but the cars are bloody noisy with no helmet on, I know that much, so it was really noisy, all the vibrations and you can hear lots of things that you don’t want to be hearing with the helmet on, that’s for sure.
“It was good to get it off, obviously the marshals, the fans, to see… in this sport, it’s not always easy to show the person that’s behind the wheel. We can in lots of other sports but in Formula 1 we’ve always got the helmet on so it was nice to drive back with the helmet off. Only time you’re seen with the helmet off is on the podium if we have a good day which we did both, so nice to get it off. In the last sector, I got it a little bit jammed, so I think the marshals were a little bit worried that I couldn’t turn left but in the end, no it was fine, it was a nice moment to come back, a little bit of a different touch to bring the car back.”
Alonso Finishes Season On A High With Podium Finish
Fernando Alonso finished the 2013 season with a solid third place in Brazil, although there was disappointment for Ferrari as the team lost out to Mercedes in the battle for second on the constructors’ championship.
“I think to finish the season on a high is always better,” said Alonso. “We missed this podium finish from many races and today we had a chance. Obviously maybe with rain conditions, a wet race, maybe we had a little more performance than on the dry but at the end to finish behind the two Red Bulls today is the maximum we could achieve and I’m happy for that.”
Alonso had goodbye messages for both Mark Webber and Felipe Massa.
“We will miss him, that’s for sure,” he said of the Australian. “A great driver and a great person. Last race also for Felipe in Ferrari, which we wanted to help in whatever way to try to celebrate a podium finish with Felipe or something but he get a drive-through unfortunately. But, you know, mixed emotions today, but happy to finish 2013 which has been an amazing year in terms of fighting and the number of points we achieve, I think. We didn’t win the championship, which is the goal every year and for next year we reset again, start from zero and new motivations.”
Alonso said he’s looking forward to the new season.
“I’m still optimistic for next year because I trust my team, I trust Ferrari preparation and philosophy for the 2014 car. We will be a contender, always, even this year when we haven’t been competitive and we only won two Grands Prix, we were off the podium for the last six or seven Grands Prix etc, we finished second in the World Championship, so with whatever the car that Ferrari do, normally, better or worse, you are a contender. That’s my optimistic point for next year, not because today we are on the podium or not on the podium.”Brazilian GP, Fernando Alonso, Formula 1, Interlagos, Mark Webber, Nico Rosberg, Sebastian Vettel