Race - Vettel win sets up four-way title showdown 07 Nov 2010
Red Bull clinched the constructors world championship with a stunning one-two result ahead of points leader Fernando Alonso in the Brazilian Grand Prix, but their insistence on not imposing team orders and letting Sebastian Vettel take a deserved win over Mark Webber puts them in a tricky position for Abu Dhabi next weekend.
It was Vettels fourth victory of the season and he won it at the start, as he dived down the inside of pole sitter Nico Hulkenbergs Williams into Turn One. Webber took two more corners to get that job done, and that set the tone for the rest of Sunday afternoon, in conjunction with an overheating problem that obliged Webber to turn his engine down to preserve it. He got a couple of chances in traffic, when he cut a gap that was usually between 2.5 and 2.8s down to 1.5s, but each time Vettel opened it up again.
When Vitantonio Liuzzi crashed his Force India into the wall exiting Turn Two on the 50th lap, the deployment of the safety car threw Alonso a lifeline. Hed not been able to pass Hulkenberg until the seventh lap, and was never able to make up the lost time. While there were two backmarkers between the two Red Bulls when the race went live again on Lap 56, Alonso had seven between his Ferrari and Webber.
Vettel was 4.2s ahead of Webber, who was 2.5s ahead of Alonso, when the 71 laps were over. The Spaniard thus retained his championship points lead with 246 over Webber on 238 and Vettel on 231. But had Red Bull elected to adopt team orders and let Webber win, he would have left Brazil with 245 points
Thats the way it is, Webber said, how they handled the points situation today. P1 would have been nice but it was not possible. But Im still in the hunt and its nice for me to come back after a poor race in Korea.
If the same top three pertains in Abu Dhabi, the Red Bull drivers will have 256 points each, but Alonso will have 261
Fourth and fifth places spelled the effective end of the McLaren drivers challenges. After an early error that let Alonso by, Lewis Hamilton drove a fighting race in a car that was only a match for the Red Bulls and Ferraris on the harder Bridgestone tyres and not in the crucial early stages on the super-soft rubber.
Hamilton set the fastest lap on the 66th of the 71 laps, but the presence of lapped traffic between his McLaren and Alonsos Ferrari ruined his chances of moving up a place in the closing stages. Germanys Nick Heidfeld was later given a drive-through penalty in his BMW Sauber for ignoring the McLarens in his mirrors.
Hamilton, who thought that his F-duct might not be working properly because his car lacked grunt down the back straight, is mathematically only in it by a point, with 222 to Alonsos 246 and a maximum of 25 available in Abu Dhabi. Team mate Jenson Button, still the reigning world champion for another week, is now out of the fight after finishing fifth and bringing his tally to 199.
"We weren't quick enough here and we won't be quick enough in Abu Dhabi," Hamilton said. "Realistically, we need a miracle.
Mercedes GPs Nico Rosberg clung to sixth place despite wheel problems during two stops under the safety car, having snatched back a place from team mate Michael Schumacher when the racing recommenced, while Hulkenberg did the best he could and drove very coolly under great pressure from Robert Kubica to bring his Williams home an honourable eighth ahead of the Poles disappointing Renault. BMW Saubers Kamui Kobayashi took the final point after one of his typical races where he stopped late for fresh tyres and stormed back through rivals who had less grip.
Jaime Alguersuari took 11th for Toro Rosso, having earlier made contact with Williams Rubens Barrichello as they fought for position in Turn One; the Brazilian cut his left-front Bridgestone and the resultant slow lap and pit stop dropped him down to a 14th place finish.
Force Indias Adrian Sutil made up for Korea as he kept his cool and stayed ahead of Schumacher, Hulkenberg and Kubica until his tyre stop, and took 12th ahead of Sebastien Buemi who clobbered Felipe Massa at one stage as the Toro Rosso and Ferrari disputed the same piece of road.
Massa had been running well early on until a loose right-front wheel obliged him to make an unscheduled pit stop. He finished 15th, behind Barrichello, after contact with Vitaly Petrovs Renault in Turn One. The Russian finished 16th. Heidfeld was 17th after his drive-through penalty, while Heikki Kovalainen led home Jarno Trulli as Lotus won the new team stakes ahead of Virgins Timo Glock. Bruno Senna led home HRT team mate Christian Klien, after the Austrian started from the pit lane, and Lucas di Grassi was the only man to join Liuzzi on the non-classified list after mechanical problems delayed his Virgin.
So the world championship battle goes down to the wire in Abu Dhabi, and though Hamiltons chances are anorexic, it nevertheless marks the first time in history that four drivers go to the last race with the chance of becoming champion.
But back to team orders. Did Webber think it would have been more prudent - though perhaps less sporting - if Red Bull had asked Vettel to give way?
It would have helped but its not in the teams policy, he said. The team have always been on the sporting side, and thats how it is. Im still in with a big chance, so Ill go there and do my best.
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