Detailed review of the final weekend:
Practice Sessions, FP1:
It was expectedly a rainy start to the final weekend of the 2013 season. It was not all to play for at the top in the championship battle but P2 onwards it was a tricky battle for millions of money and prestige to go with it. The final 20 minutes was the only time when teams could set some fast times as Rosberg lead the pack with teammate Hamilton behind and Vettel at P3. SFI’s Sutil was at P15 while Calado got his first taste of the Brazilian track sitting in for di Resta ending at an impressive P18 with less running. Sutil drove lots of laps on the wet track. Pirelli’s didn’t get any data on their 2014 prototype tyres in the end.
Rain continued to fall in Brazil as the second session was almost down to nothing. It was a lot less running for the teams as they have limited number of wet and inter-mediates tyres for the weekend. Rosberg continued his top performance with Vettel closing in at P2 and Webber joining in at P3. For SFI, di Resta was back in the car as he drove mere 11 laps to end at P13. He remained the driver with the least number of laps in the day after he sat out during FP1. Sutil stayed in the garage for most part of the session and came out in the used sets to clock P15 time.
Rain, rain go away was the chant surely from the fans as rain continued to fall and on the other side, the running was limited to handful of timed laps to no timed laps for few of the drivers. As many as 4 drivers didn’t set times while a lot of them did only 2-3 timed laps. Webber one of the serious runners took P1 while the Lotus duo of Grosjean & Kovalainen followed the Red Bull driver. Among the handful laps runner were our SFI duo as di Resta ended P9 and Sutil at P10.
Not the ideal run for any team to work out the strategies for the weekend. But it quite seemed that it was all in the mix as RBR, Mercedes fought it out and Lotus, Ferrari followed the suit. It was difficult to predict anything about qualifying. But it was evident that SFI were hopeful of one car in Q3, the weather was always predicted as rain during the qualifying session too. So, it was all to play for kind of thing for qualifying.
The question in the first session was how bad the rain could possibly be during the 20 minutes. Whether it was better to go out at the start or wait for the end few minutes. The teams didn’t take the risk and everyone went out straight which turned out to be the best decision as towards the end, the rain had picked up. Hamilton topped with Vettel and Rosberg behind in the damp conditions. Both the SFI made it to Q2 safely with di Resta only having to do one perfect lap. Sutil was on the edge but he made it in. Both the Caterham, Marussia along with Maldonado & Esteban bowed out.
Rain continued to fall during the second session as well as teams went out trying to do as many laps as possible in those conditions. Grosjean got up as he topped the session at P1 with Vettel & Alonso behind him. Both the SFI were out as di Resta managed P12 and Sutil was only P16 in the end. Sutil said that he just couldn’t get the grip to improve as it was raining all the time while di Resta was satisfied with the effort.
The start of the final session was delayed due to rain falling down heavily and track being too wet to drive on. When session started everyone went out on wets but the track was dry enough for inters as everyone quickly came in to change for it. Vettel’s one lap was enough for him to secure pole, it was some lap in those conditions beating Rosberg & Alonso by some good margin. Webber in his final qualifying session, qualified at P4. Both the STR made it to Q3 too as did the ever consistent Hulkenberg.
With so much rain falling, it made tricky for certain drivers and teams but Vettel still managed to get the pole position. Nothing could stop him there even though he didn’t top any of the sessions. Alonso was a nice surprise up at P3 and was to make a good battle with Mercedes for the P2 position in CC. Though SFI were out in Q2, they did have the race pace to challenge and get into points, their main aim was to defend the P6 position really which was possible for sure.
The two days of the weekend, it rained all the time but then on the final day, rain chose to stay away to give fans some racing under dry conditions. Though it did rain here and there but it wasn’t enough for teams to go for inters or wets. Any ways, the race still was pretty good as we got to see lot of overtaking moves everywhere. Up ahead on the first lap we saw Rosberg getting a perfect launch to take the lead but not for long as Vettel came back and took the lead again. While Rosberg was moving down the pack, Webber was moving up from P5 to P2. Behind them Button, Perez were only the real movers from behind. As for the SFI duo, Sutil made a good start to go up to P13 while di Resta made a poor gateway to fall down to P16. Grosjean’s spectacular season came to an end early when his V8 engine decided to sleep early.
With rain staying away, Vettel was back to business taking a good lead over his teammate Webber at P2. Alonso & Hamilton followed at a distant range while Button was moving up the field steadily. Ferrari got a bitter disappointment when Massa was given a drive through penalty which ruined his home race as he went down to the bottom half of the points. The battle for final point was on as Bottas, Ricciardo, Esteban, Sutil & di Resta all eyed the place all through the race. Bottas was out of running in the list as he collided with Hamilton ruining the Briton’s race as well. That gave a bit of drama in the pits too as RBR went for double stack where it had to be Webber followed by Vettel but it happened the other way. Still Vettel was leading as he had created big enough gap from his rivals, Webber did lose his P2 position but he took his position back from Alonso quickly. Hamilton fell behind while Button, Rosberg, Perez all moved up due the collision.
The mix start from SFI saw them fighting for positions all the time. It was tough for Sutil to move up as the cars around him lapped similar to his timings. He got a bit of help from a great work from his pit crew and with few overtaking on track, he was running P11 at one stage. As for di Resta he got up behind his teammate at P12 in a good time period. For a brief period of time both our drivers were up into points respectively. Both were on different strategies which is why di Resta got ahead of Sutil as the former was on 2 stopper while the later was on a 3 stopper. Towards the end of the race after the final pit stops, di Resta & Sutil were running at P11 & P13 respectively.
A lot of people were hoping for Vettel to give Webber the win but surely Webber wouldn’t have wanted that. He would have always wanted to beat Vettel for the win. And so Vettel got his 13th win of the season, 9th on the trot while Webber ended his F1 career with a podium finish at P2. Alonso rounded off his troubled season with a pretty satisfying P3. Button though stole the show with a strong finish for McLaren at P4 and Perez ended his McLaren career with a P6. Massa finished at P7 to end his time with Ferrari and Ricciardo ended his STR career taking the final point. SFI duo tried hard as di Resta ended at P11, his tyres were gone for him to attack Ricciardo for the final point. Sutil though came very close to moving up at P10 with the pace he was showing, in the end he had to settle in for P13 as he ran out of laps to overtake and move further up the field.
With the already decided championship titles, the main position in contention was P2 in CC which went to Mercedes in the end, Ferrari had to be happy with P3. On the DC front, Webber finished at P3 pushing Hamilton & Kimi down. On our side, SFI ended at P6 with 77 points. Yes, we could have ended P5 but then we improved from last year when we finished P7. On driver front, di Resta lost couple of places to end at P12 with 48 points and Sutil ended at P13 with 28 points. It was a certainly a mixed season for the team, there was performance and luck (in some cases bad luck), the team showed character all through the season. Congrats to Red Bull & Sebastian Vettel on their Championship. Also congrats to Sahara Force India for ending at P6. Marussia took the P10 battle after Bianchi earned them way back in Malaysia while Chilton made history by finishing all the
That’s the end then folks, next time we will read a weekend review, it would be post the 2014 Australian GP, long wait, isn’t it? Hope you have enjoyed as much as I have. See you later, have a good off season time.
Thanks for reading,