Mark Webber finally claimed his first victory of the 2011 Formula 1 season in the very last race of the year, as gearbox troubles for World Champion Sebastian Vettel opened the door for his Red Bull teammate in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Red Bull absolutely dominated the Interlagos race, with Vettel holding the lead at the start, and Webber fending off the cars behind for second despite a slightly slower getaway.
Vettel soon opened up a stable three-second gap to Webber, as the Red Bull duo left the rest in their wake at a rate sometimes up to one second per lap. But from the early laps Vettel was receiving radio messages warning him to short-shift to nurse a developing gearbox problem, and as the warnings became more vehement, his pace slowed enough for Webber to sweep into the lead on lap 29.
While the Australian went on to take his first win since the 2010 Hungarian GP, Vettel still had enough pace to hang on for second. He was helped by McLaren's Jenson Button and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso battling over third. Alonso passed Lewis Hamilton's McLaren at the start, then claimed third from Button with a spectacular move around the outside at Ferradura on lap 11.
Alonso then pulled away, only to lose pace on the harder tires in his final stint, allowing Button to catch and re-pass him nine laps from the finish with an easy DRS pass after various earlier attempts were rebuffed.
Hamilton was set to battle with Felipe Massa – who stopped just twice while most made three pit stops – for fifth until a gearbox failure halted the McLaren, ensuring the Ferrari could keep the place.
Adrian Sutil charged to sixth for Force India, beating Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and the second Force India of Paul di Resta.
Ninth place for Kamui Kobayashi ensured Sauber beat Toro Rosso – which failed to score – to seventh in the constructors' championship. Vitaly Petrov completed the points scorers for Lotus Renault.
His teammate Bruno Senna clashed with Michael Schumacher at the Senna S early on, giving the Mercedes a puncture. The stewards awarded Senna a drive-through penalty for the collision and with gearbox troubles also developing, he fell to 17th, while Schumacher got back to 15th.
Rubens Barrichello was unable to score in what could be his final grand prix. A poor start dropped the Williams to 21st and he was only able to recover to 14th.
PROVISIONAL RACE RESULTS
The Brazilian Grand Prix
Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil;
71 laps; 305.909km;
Pos Driver Team Time
1. Webber Red Bull-Renault 1h32:17.434
2. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 16.983
3. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 27.638
4. Alonso Ferrari + 35.048
5. Massa Ferrari + 1:06.733
6. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
7. Rosberg Mercedes + 1 lap
8. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
9. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
10. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
12. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
13. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
14. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
15. Schumacher Mercedes + 1 lap
16. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
17. Senna Renault + 2 laps
18. Trulli Lotus-Renault + 2 laps
19. D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth + 3 laps
20. Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth + 3 laps
Fastest lap: Webber, 1:15.324
Driver Team On lap
Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth 62
Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 37
Maldonado Williams-Cosworth 27
Glock Virgin-Cosworth 22
World Championship standings, round 19:
1. Vettel 392 1. Red Bull-Renault 650
2. Button 270 2. McLaren-Mercedes 497
3. Webber 258 3. Ferrari 375
4. Alonso 257 4. Mercedes 165
5. Hamilton 227 5. Renault 73
6. Massa 118 6. Force India-Mercedes 69
7. Rosberg 89 7. Sauber-Ferrari 44
8. Schumacher 76 8. Toro Rosso-Ferrari 41
9. Sutil 42 9. Williams-Cosworth 5
10. Petrov 37
11. Heidfeld 34
12. Kobayashi 30
13. Di Resta 27
14. Alguersuari 26
15. Buemi 15
16. Perez 14
17. Barrichello 4
18. Senna 2
19. Maldonado 1
All timing unofficial