Vettel wins drivers' championship in Sao Paulo

Sebastian Vettel secured a third successive Formula One title after a dramatic Brazilian Grand Prix. Rain made conditions treacherous and Fernando Alonso nursed hopes of seizing the title right until the end. Vettel though held his nerve and brought home his damaged Red Bull safely in sixth. Alonso was second, but Vettel retained the drivers’ championship by three points.

It was a thrilling end to a championship that had threatened to peter out into anticlimax when Vettel opened up a substantial lead earlier in the season. It was also a reminder that adverse weather can play havoc with a team’s careful planning and race tactics.

It was apparent that Vettel wasn’t going to have an easy time of it as early as the first lap. Vettel’s Red Bull was clipped, spun and sustained damage to the exhaust as the German dropped back to last. The information from the pits was that the damage could not be repaired but that he could continue.

The champion produced a bold and resourceful drive to stay in the race and within a decent distance of Alonso, the only man who could deny him the championship. The British drivers, Jensen Button and Lewis Hamilton, dominated for McLaren until Hamilton crashed out in his final race for the team. Button secured his third race victory of the season.

The focus was on the returning champion though. At 25 Vettel is the youngest-ever three-time champion in Formula One. "I never thought it was game over," Vettel said. "I always kept believing even when I was facing the wrong way at turn four and trying to avoid cars while going backwards. I tried to keep the damage to my car to a limit although we did not have the pace down the straights."

He wasn’t sure of the title until his team boss told him. "Even when I limped home under the safety car I did know now if it was enough to win the title." It was enough, and the party started in Sao Paulo.

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