When the grid lined up at the Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Brazil there were just 71 laps, almost 306 kilometers, until the end of the 2013 season. Sometimes the circuit in Interlagos is deciding a Championship winner or showcasing new talent, and sometimes it's merely deciding a winner. This year was the latter.

2013 World Champion Sebastian Vettel in the first Infiniti Red Bull Racing lined up in front of Nico Rosberg in the first Mercedes-AMG Petronas, Fernando Alonso in the first Ferrari, Mark Webber in the second Red Bull and his final Formula One race, Lewis Hamilton in the second Mercedes, Romain Grosjean in the Lotus, Daniel Ricciardo in the first Toro Rosso and his final race for the team before moving to Red Bull, his teammate Jean-Éric Vergne, Felipe Massa in the second Ferrari and Nico Hülkenberg in the Sauber.

There were numerous theories about what surprises might occur, with race day being the first dry running of the weekend and rain predicted to fall at some point during the running. The first surprise came when the lights went out and Vettel, the consummate starter, got beat to the first corner.
AP Photo/Felipe Dana

And that was almost it for surprises. Vettel suffered wheelspin just after his launch and Rosberg got by him into the first corner. Vettel retook the lead after the pair crossed the line at the end of the first lap, and that was the race. Vettel's only incidents came in a couple of lockups during the race, and when he came into the pits before the team was ready for him and he endured a lengthy stop. Otherwise he maintained his lead and finished an easy 11 seconds ahead of second place.

That went to Webber, who got off to his final poor start in F1, falling behind Lewis Hamilton and into fifth. He passed Hamilton, Alonso and Rosberg by lap 14 and wasn't troubled for second place until his pit stop on Lap 24, when a slow stop saw Alonso get past. Webber would repass him on Lap 26 and hold onto the position until the end.

Photo by Mark Thompson/Getty Images

The only other exciting drives came from the McLaren duo of Jenson Button and Sergio Perez, the Mexican on his last go-round as a McLaren driver. Button started 15th, Perez qualified 14th but a gearbox change after a crash in qualifying dropped him down to 19th. Through a combination of passing and strategy, they would cut through the field, Button finishing fourth and Perez finishing sixth. Button's final position was the best McLaren has done all year.

Beyond that, the action was as dry as the sky. The rain never came, and by Lap 27 the race was almost chiseled in granite. The order on that lap was Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Massa, Hamilton, Button, Rosberg, Perez, Hulkenberg and Ricciardo. That was just over one-third of the way into the race.

AP Photo/Andre Penner

The order at the finish was Vettel, Webber, Alonso, Button, Rosberg, Perez, Massa, Hulkenberg, Hamilton and Ricciardo. The two drivers who swapped positions, Massa and Hamilton, did so because of drive-through penalties. An irate Massa was called in for crossing the hatched white lines at the pit entry with all four wheels after being warned about it. Hamilton was called in for causing an accident with Valtteri Bottas, when the Mercedes man didn't notice the Williams had pulled alongside to pass and he drifted to the right and into the Williams. Bottas, for his part, didn't realize he wasn't racing Hamilton since he was a lap down, and he was spun out of the race with a destroyed left rear wheel. Hamilton popped his right rear tire and damaged his floor but made it back to the pits for a new set of wheels.

Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images

Vettel's win gives him 13 for the season, matching the record set by Michael Schumacher, and nine in a row, matching the record set by Alberto Ascari – although Ascari's came over two, much shorter seasons. Vettel was in the lead for more than 90 percent of the laps raced during the latter half of the season. For all that, it's incredible that Vettel gets nothing like the respect he deserves (from this writer included) – he's like the Nissan GT-R of drivers: awesome performance and a core group of fans, but the at-large response is mostly shrugs, apathy and suspicion.

NELSON ALMEIDA/AFP/Getty Images

When Schumacher won his 13 races during the 2004 season, he was going up against teams at their nadirs and a bunch of dogs masquerading as F1 cars: BMW Williams, West McLaren Mercedes, Mild Seven Renault, Lucky Strike BAR Honda, Sauber Petronas, Jaguar Racing, Panasonic Toyota, Jordan Ford, Mindardi Cosworth. Schumacher finished 34 points ahead of his Ferrari teammate Rubens Barrichello, Jenson Button finished in third, 63 points behind – and this was back when there were only ten points given for first place and eight for second. That's no knock on Schumacher, but one could argue that Vettel and Red Bull have had tougher competition.

People can say it's the Red Bull that's made Vettel what he is, but no one said the Ferrari made Schumacher. On top of that, if it's the car that's the star, then that must mean Mark Webber is a far worse driver than anyone would want to admit.

AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo

And that's how the V8 era came to an end. Next year there will be turbocharged V6s with larger KERS. There'll be no more Mark Webber. Rookie Kevin Magnussen (son of Corvette driver Jan Magnussen) will be at McLaren, while Sergio Perez is rumored to be headed to Force India. Paul di Resta is said to be leaving F1 for IndyCar, while Hülkenberg is either staying with Sauber or going to Lotus or Force India. Pastor Maldonado will be taking his sponsorship money somewhere, but we don't know where yet, and his Williams seat will get filled by Felipe Massa. Two Russians will join the field in Daniil Kyvat at Toro Rosso and Sergey Sirtokin at Sauber. Williams gets Mercedes engines, Marussia gets Ferrari. Oh, and Marussia beat Caterham for tenth place in the Constructor's Championship.

Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images

The whole caboodle gets turned over for next year. We'll see you then.


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    • 1 Second Ago
  • 26 Comments
      surplusguy
      • 1 Year Ago
      At least a half dozen drivers could win in that car. It's not all Vettel, who may be the most unpopular champion ever. F1 needs to do something to improve competition or figure out how Red Bull is dominating(without getting caught) ???
        MVM
        • 1 Year Ago
        @surplusguy
        What a sore comment. Don't despair, there'll be more from Vettel and Red Bull next year.
          gtv4rudy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @MVM
          Especially when he gets faster pit stops than his teammate.
        The Law
        • 1 Year Ago
        @surplusguy
        Winning in a newey car is nothing special.
          Myself
          • 1 Year Ago
          @The Law
          There's plenty of driver who FAILED to win in a Newey Car.
        Justin B.
        • 1 Year Ago
        @surplusguy
        I know some may dislike this comment, but it's true. Good driver in a great car.
          HH112233
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Justin B.
          And you make your assumption based on what? Have you watched Vettel race? He drives the car flawless and consistently faster then Webber. Vettel helped to develop that car. A drivers feedback is one of the major aspects in improveing a car and setting it up. The cars "greatness" is partially due to Vettels input. That makes Vettel even better. He can drive faster the anybody out there and can build a team around him and give good input to develop and set up a car.
      Tom Winch
      • 1 Year Ago
      I knew before I even read the comments that most of them would be from people saying Vettel is an unworthy champion, that it was all Adrian Newey and the car, that Webber's car wasn't as good, That Vettel needs to win with another team to be a true champion, etc ad nauseaum. I'm no fan of Vettel (if I had to pick a favorite F1 driver it would be Kimi), but people need to give him his due. Everyone seems to forget that Vettel has already won a race with a midfield team. He won his first race in 2008 for Toro Rosso at Monza, becoming the youngest race winner in F1 history. This was also Toro Rosso's one and only victory and at the time, Red Bull had 0 wins. Vettel chalked up Red Bull's first win in 2009, his first year with RB. Consider this, SV was the youngest driver to participate in an official F1 practice session for BMW in Hungary 2006. He had the fastest time in the first practice session he drove. His next practice drive was at Monza and he had the quickest times of ALL test sessions. He was quicker than both BMW drivers, Robert Kubica and Nick Heidfeld, every time he drove the same car. In 2007, he was called in to replace Kubica at the USGP after Kubica's huge crash at the Canadian GP the week before. Vettel qualified 7th and finished 8th, becoming the youngest driver to score a point in F1. He was released mid-season by BMW to enable him to join Toro Rosso to replace Scott Speed. The following year, 2008, he made great strides for a team that had been a perennial back markers, getting the win at Monza. In 2009, he made the move to Red Bull, becoming the youngest driver to win for two different teams when he got Red Bull's first victory at the third race of the season in China. After Brawn GP dominated the first half of the season, Red Bull made a strong development run and had the best car for the second half of the season with Vettel finishing second in the WDC in his first year with Red Bull. Everyone pretty much knows the rest, with Vettel winning the WDC from 2010 through 2013. Vettel haters need to face it, like it or not Sebastian Vettel is a great driver and in all likelihood will eclipse all Schumacher's records.
      msspamrefuge
      • 1 Year Ago
      "That's no knock on Schumacher, but one could argue that Vettel and Red Bull have had tougher competition." Really? Who provided this tougher competition other than the initial tire specifications? Mercedes failed to seize winning race pace more often than not, Lotus' drivers alternated turns at being best of the of rest, Ferrari laid another turd, and McLaren was frequently battling just to stay in the (expanded!) points.
      GH32821
      • 1 Year Ago
      You don't really think both cars on a team are outfitted identically, do you? Of course Vettel and Schumacher got better cars than their teammates.
        MVM
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GH32821
        Well, Mark Webber got two pole positions and lots of purple sectors at qualifying. And he did some fastest laps during racing throughout the season. Can't have been such a dog of a car. You also sound very assertive. What makes you so sure both cars are not identical?
        Myself
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GH32821
        Teams got money for their constructor points. To jeopardize one car would result in financial losses for the team. You don't know have a jack about F1.
        JanP
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GH32821
        Why would they need to nerf Webber's car on purpose? After all these years, do you still believe Webber can touch Vettel? I can allow the possibility that cars are not identical at all GPs. The car is developed all year. But then, even if Vettel temporarily got a better package, that's because he is the better driver of the two.
        The Law
        • 1 Year Ago
        @GH32821
        @MVM/Janp Everyone knows the 2nd driver receives the top driver hand me down parts.
      vince
      • 1 Year Ago
      the proof will be in next year's pudding - we'll see what everyone is able to do w/ their cars and new engines. Oh, and one important feature: Adian Newey. Without him, Red Bull would be a drink.
      Agilis
      • 1 Year Ago
      When Schumacher and Ferrari were dominating year after year, FIA and other teams did everything they could to get the rules changed by the FIA so Ferrari would not dominate the grid. Now why hasn't this happened towards Red Bull? Look, you cannot tell me that Red Bull is doing something that the other teams cannot replicate or figure out. Maybe I'll believe for 1 or 2 races, but an entire season. Not buying it. Here's what I know: All those involved in making changes to the car, are paid to think outside the box and are very, very good at what they do. Thermal Dynamics, Aerodynamics, engineering, etc. etc. For the other teams not to be able to figure out a solution, is just not believable. This is like taking 2 nuclear Physicists and saying 1 is smarter than the other. They are both smart and they will both figure out what one or the other is doing to solve a problem. The only reasonable explanation is when these "players" are told to think outside the box, their bound by FIA regulations... Where as Red Bull, is not. I am strongly under the impression that Red Bull is cheating or bending the rules. I do not take anything away from Vettel.. His driving is excellent... But the car is the reason he's winning so much. Put Alonso in Vettels car and you'll get close to the same lap times.
        Myself
        • 1 Year Ago
        @Agilis
        What an assinine comment. The best are always cheating? FIA cracked down of couple of things that made Red Bulls faster over the years - to be more specific - they increased the stress test for front wings amid flexing allegations. Guess what - the wing was OK, no flexxing. Blown difusers were gone, too. There is a standard FIA sealed ECU unit in every car - it's manufactured by McLaren electronics. Engine and gearboxes are sealed - that was not the case in Schumacher era. "Look, you cannot tell me that Red Bull is doing something that the other teams cannot replicate or figure out.' Yes, they are doing something different. They have the driver that is in a different galaxy to anyone else. RB is as good as Mark Webber drives it. The rest is Vettel.
          HH112233
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Myself
          I “definitely” have the skill. Now all I need is a sponsor. Pastor and myself will dominate next year ;-)
          HH112233
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Myself
          "gtv4rudy" are you saying Webber drives worse than a monkey? Please go back to sleep!
          Tom Winch
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Myself
          "RB is as good as Mark Webber drives it. The rest is Vettel." Well said. Sums it up in a nutshell.
          gtv4rudy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Myself
          Even a monkey drive and can win the championship in the RedBull car.
          gtv4rudy
          • 1 Year Ago
          @Myself
          No, I meant even you could win the F1 Championship in a RedBull race car. Who needs Vettel.
      Robert H Jacob
      • 1 Year Ago
      I constantly try to enjoy F1 - but the races are rarely races - they are boring. The best part of F1 is the staged qualifying - and even that sucks. I know I am an exception - but that sports needs a better format that fosters real racing.
      HH112233
      • 1 Year Ago
      I made the mistake to watch the race on NBC. I almost smashed my TV. You could barely watch 3 labs between some sort of interruption. What is it with all the commercials and useless talk while the race is going on? Congrats to Vettel and RedBull. A fantastic season came to an end. It will go down in the history books as an example of Vettels brilliance.
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