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Brazilian Grand Prix 2011: Webber ends season on a high with victory

Red Bull's Mark Webber wins his first Grand Prix of the season ahead of team-mate Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button

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mark webber
Webber had not won a race since August 2010Photo: Getty Images, courtesy of Red Bull Racing

mark webber

Mark Webber won his first race since August 2010 as he led world champion Sebastian Vettel to a Red Bull one-two in the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix.

With Vettel hampered by a gearbox problem from lap five, the Australian was ushered through on lap 30, and had a comfortable run to the end of the race to take a long overdue victory, his first in 26 races, and secure third in the world drivers’ championship by a single point.

“I felt good all weekend to be honest,” Webber said. “Seb did a great lap for pole yesterday, but today I got a little bit of the rub of the green–it would have been nice to have a race with Seb all the way through, but I think he had a little bit of a problem.

“It’s a win that obviously I’ll take because I’ve had enough bad luck or whatever you want to call it, and that’s how motorsport goes sometimes. It was a very important win for me and the team that get to finish on a high.”

McLaren’s Jenson Button produced some stunning driving late in the race on the harder medium compound tyres to get a jump on Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso with 10 laps to go, after the Spaniard had been on course for the final podium position for much of the race, but ran out of laps to catch and pass Vettel.

Double world champion Vettel led from the start, but when a gearbox problem materialised and he started to lose time, the German allowed Webber through to manage the race and ultimately keep Alonso behind them.

mark webber

Mark Webber took the lead on lap 30 and had a comfortable run to the end of the race to take a long overdue victory

Gearbox problems were order of the day for several of the top drivers as Lewis Hamilton retired from the race on lap 46 when his gearbox gave up down the back straight–his first retirement of what has been a turbulent season for the 2008 world champion.

“It’s been an interesting year and today I gave it my all and enjoyed the race,” Hamilton said. “It was a little bit unfortunate for the team not to get the extra points, but I enjoyed racing out there. I was challenging right to the end even though the gearbox problem came on quite early. I was struggling with gears throughout.”

“It’s been a long, long year and I’m looking forward to a bit of downtime and some time with family and friends, some training and then just attacking next year. I’ve got lots I can improve, but I still feel positive even though we didn’t have a great result today.”

Alonso had a brilliant start to the race, passing Hamilton on the outside of the second corner, before pulling off an audacious move on Button on the outside of Turn Five on lap 11.

With Ferrari looking comfortable as the McLaren drivers struggled with pace on the soft tyres, the race changed when Alonso and Button made the switch to the harder compound, with Button enjoying a better balance to make a push for revenge. Ferrari’s problems with the harder compound continued as Alonso was helpless to prevent Button from getting ahead on lap 62.

Then chasing down Vettel while setting “qualifying” laps, Button had heavy traffic to negotiate, and eventually ran out of laps to get anywhere near the German.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa took fifth place behind his team-mate, with Force India’s Adrian Sutil producing one of the drives of the day to claim sixth, moving him up to ninth in the final drivers’ standings as he battles to retain his seat for 2012.

mark webber

Webber finished ahead of Red Bull team-mate Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Jenson button

Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg took seventh, but was unable to live with Sutil’s superior pace, despite having the same Mercedes-Benz engine, with Force India’s Paul di Resta eighth, Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi ninth, and Renault’s Vitaly Petrov rounding out the top 10.

Force India’s double points finish was enough to secure them sixth in the constructors’ championship behind Renault, as both Toro Rosso drivers finished just outside of the top 10.

Webber’s post-race celebrations were muted, but the win will be a relief to the 35-year-old who was overshadowed by Vettel’s 11 race wins and a record 15 pole positions in 19 grands prix.

Brazilian Grand Prix 2011 – Race result

1 Mark Webber (Aus) Red Bull 1hr 32mins 17.464secs

2 Sebastian Vettel (Ger) Red Bull 1:32:34.447

3 Jenson Button (Gbr) McLaren 1:32:45.102

4 Fernando Alonso (Spa) Ferrari 1:32:52.512

5 Felipe Massa (Bra) Ferrari 1:33:24.197

6 Adrian Sutil (Ger) Force India at 1 Lap

7 Nico Rosberg (Ger) Mercedes GP at 1 Lap

8 Paul di Resta (Gbr) Force India at 1 Lap

9 Kamui Kobayashi (Jpn) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 Lap

10 Vitaly Petrov (Rus) Renault at 1 Lap

11 Jaime Alguersuari (Spa) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap

12 Sebastien Buemi (Swi) Scuderia Toro Rosso at 1 Lap

13 Sergio Perez (Mex) Sauber-Ferrari at 1 Lap

14 Rubens Barrichello (Bra) Williams at 1 Lap

15 Michael Schumacher (Ger) Mercedes GP at 1 Lap

16 Heikki Kovalainen (Fin) Lotus F1 at 2 Laps

17 Bruno Senna (Bra) Renault at 2 Laps

18 Jarno Trulli (Ita) Lotus F1 at 2 Laps

19 Jerome d’Ambrosio (Bel) Virgin Racing at 3 Laps

20 Daniel Ricciardo (Aus) HRT-F1 at 3 Laps

Not Classified:

21 Vitantonio Liuzzi (Ita) HRT-F1 61 Laps completed

22 Lewis Hamilton (Gbr) McLaren 46 Laps completed

23 Pastor Maldonado (Ven) Williams 26 Laps completed

24 Timo Glock (Ger) Virgin Racing 21 Laps completed

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