F1 wraps up season with Brazilian GP
Sao Paulo, Brazil – Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, turn road course. Start Time: 11:00 a.m. (et). Laps: 71. Miles: 190.067. 2010 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: Speed.
After a campaign that began on March 27 in Melbourne, Australia, the 2011 Formula One season concludes with this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix -- the 19th round on the calendar.
Both the driver's and constructors' championships were decided last month, with Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing claiming their second consecutive titles.
Vettel's hopes of tying Michael Schumacher's season-record of 13 wins were punctured in the very early going of last week's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix. The Red Bull driver started on the pole but suffered a flat tire and spun out on the opening lap. He sustained suspension damage in the process and became the first competitor out of the event. It was the first retirement for Vettel since October 2010 in the Korean Grand Prix. He has won 11 races and had finished no worse than fourth in the first 17 grand prix this season.
There is one more record opportunity left for Vettel this year. If the young German grabs the top starting position for the Brazilian GP, he will set a record for most poles wins in a season. His pole in the Abu Dhabi GP matched Nigel Mansell's 1992 season record of 14.
Vettel is the defending Brazilian GP winner. In last year's race, he quickly passed pole sitter Nico Hulkenberg for the lead on the opening lap and then dominated from there on the 2.677-mile (4.309-kilometer) Interlagos circuit.
"Brazil is going to be exciting, because Interlagos is known for its passionate fans, anti-clockwise driving and the extreme altitude of the track," Vettel said. "Sao Paulo is about 1,000 meters [3,280 feet] above sea level, which costs us some power. The long left corners are a strain on our neck muscles, because the track is anti-clockwise, which is opposite to normal. That's why I usually do some special training before Sao Paulo to get my muscles used to it."
Following his Abu Dhabi win, Lewis Hamilton from McLaren is hoping to end his season on an even higher note in Brazil. Hamilton is currently fifth in the point standings, with three victories so far for the year.
"Winning in Abu Dhabi last week was a fantastic feeling, and it's made me even more determined to finish the 2011 season with a victory," Hamilton said. "It would be great to go into the winter off the back of another win, so that will be my aim [this] weekend."
The second-place finisher in points this year is still up for grabs. McLaren's Jenson Button presently holds the second spot with 255 points. Fernando Alonso from Ferrari trails Button by just 10 markers, while Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber, is 12 in back of Alonso.
"It's very positive to move towards the end of the season on a high, because it's the best possible way to build for the new season," Button said.
Felipe Massa from Ferrari is one of three Brazilians competing in this event. Williams' Rubens Barrichello and Bruno Senna from Lotus Renault GP are also racing in front of their home crowd.
Massa is expected to make his 100th grand prix start with Ferrari.
"This will be a very important weekend for me, as it will also mark the end of the 10th year since I first raced in Formula One, although not 10 years of competition, as I was a Ferrari test driver in 2003," he said. "Fortunately, I am still young and there is more to come, but 10 years is still a landmark in an F1 driver's career. Then there are my six years racing for the Scuderia, competing in 100 grands prix for the team, which makes me one of the drivers who has raced the most for this team.
"Therefore, putting it all together, 10 years of Formula One, 100 races with Ferrari and all of it at home in Brazil, makes this something really special for me. It will be an emotional time, and what I would like to add to it all would be a good result come Sunday afternoon."
The 2012 F1 season begins with the March 18 Australian Grand Prix.