Brazil 2012: Vettel’s “toughest” triumph and more reaction from F1's 2012 finale

Interlagos has often produced spectacular Formula 1 races and intense title battles, but perhaps none were more remarkable or unpredictable than the 2012 season finale

Brazil 2012: Vettel’s “toughest” triumph and more reaction from F1's 2012 finale

Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso had gone in to the Brazilian Grand Prix battling for the world title, with Vettel defending a comfortable cushion at the head of the standings.

But despite the tall order facing Alonso, his hopes took a massive boost when Vettel got involved in a first lap tangle.

But Vettel managed to bring his car home and grab the points he needed to claim a third world title, with Jenson Button delivering a famous win for McLaren up front. https://www.autosport.com/f1/news/104571/vettel-is-champion-button-wins-thriller

VETTEL'S TOUGHEST RACE

A photograph of the moment when Vettel clashed with Bruno Senna on the first lap showed just how fortunate he was to keep going in the race.

He also had further trouble at a pit stop, and so coming through and grabbing the crown left him clear about how difficult he had found the experience.

"I think it was the toughest [race I've had], but we kept believing and remained ourselves," he said.

"A lot of people tried to use dirty tricks, certain things that from our point of view that were beyond the limit and we never got irritated or distracted by that. We gave a big push to the end."

ALONSO'S BEST SEASON

Although Alonso was clearly disappointed to have missed out on the title, especially after seeing how close Vettel had been to retiring, he still reflected on a good season.

"The championship was not lost here," said Alonso.

"The championship was lost when [Romain] Grosjean flew over my head [at Spa] or when Vettel surprisingly only got a reprimand after qualifying in Japan.

"There's been situations during the season that make you think of these three points, but that's the sport. Even though I finished second in the points I have never had such respect and the affection from everybody in the paddock.

"This is the first time that I have got drivers, ex-drivers, teams, fans to say that we have done the best championship. We'll be back as strong in 2013, because it would be harder to be stronger. I have a great feeling after 2012, by far the best year of my career."

SCHUMACHER'S FINAL OUTING

Perhaps a little lost amid the focus on the world championship fight was that Brazil marked Michael Schumacher's final F1 outing.

His return to grand prix racing with Mercedes had not delivered the success he had perhaps hoped for, but he said he was bowing out of F1 with his head held high as he took some points with seventh place.

"It has been a beautiful time," said Schumacher. "Lots of exciting moments we shared, and lots of tough moments.

"The most incredible thing in a way is that I felt a lot of support in these last three years and they have been the most difficult years for me. But the fans have always been behind me."

HAMILTON NOT HAPPY WITH HULKENBERG

The 2012 Brazil race is the one event that leaves Nico Hulkenberg upset even now in 2020 - as it perhaps offered him his best chance of winning a grand prix.

As he left F1 last year, Hulkenberg admitted that he still feels pain when replays of the 2012 race are shown.

"I'm leading and I watched it all over again and my heart was bleeding," he said.

"Yeah, that was the day. I mean, before the safety car I was leading by 50 seconds. So, that was a special race - a special day, a very young Hulk. That was one of the special drives from the history books."

Hulkenberg's victory hopes were dashed when he collided with Lewis Hamilton as they were battling for the lead. Hulkenberg was given a drivethrough penalty that put him out of contention for the win and it also left Hamilton far from impressed.

"It was a little bit unfortunate," said Hamilton. "The dude didn't even say sorry. So that says a lot.

"That's what happens when you race with the less experienced. I feel OK, and I feel happy for the team to get the win."

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