F1 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix result: Hamilton crashes out of final McLaren race
PUBLISHED: 17:46 25 November 2012 | UPDATED: 10:04 26 November 2012
FORMULA 1 driver Lewis Hamilton crashed out of a dramatic 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix while leading the race at the Interlagos circuit as McLaren teammate Jenson Button took the chequered flag under the safety car.
The 27-year-old Vodafone McLaren Mercedes star from Hertfordshire was leading an eventful, crazy, rain-hit race when he was clipped by Nico Hulkenberg’s car.
The German driver tried to pass Hamilton at Turn One on a slippery track but his Force India hit Hamilton, forcing the McLaren man to retire from the final F1 race of the season with damage to his car.
The collision after 54 laps handed Hamilton’s McLaren teammate Jenson Button the lead ahead of Fernando Alonso’s Ferrari.
The McLaren pitwall told Hamilton: “Oh that’s so tough, Lewis. A brilliant race until then. Please park somewhere safe.”
Button eventually finished the race first behind the safety car – deployed after Paul di Resta crashed into the wall up the hill on the penultimate lap.
Alonso finished second as the rain came down heavier in Sao Paulo.
However, that wasn’t enough to secure the Spaniard the world title, as Sebastian Vettel managed to cross the line sixth to claim his third successive drivers’ championship.
Felipe Massa took the third step on the podium to clinch Ferrari second place in the constructors’ championship, with Mark Webber fourth for Red Bull.
Hulkenberg, after serving a drive-through penalty, took fifth place with Vettel sixth to make him the youngest ever triple world champion.
Michael Schumacher brought the curtain down on his F1 career in seventh place for Mercedes GP.
Afterwards, as he celebrated victory, Button said: “Very sorry that Lewis won’t be on the podium with me. I’m not sure what happened between him and Hulkenberg.”
Button then said over the radio: “We want this every race next year, alright?! Cheers guys! Is Fernando world champion?”
The reply came: “Vettel is world champion. He finished sixth, but he’s under investigation for overtaking under a yellow flag.”
That came to nothing and Red Bull were able to celebrate Vettel’s title victory, while Hamilton received a standing ovation from everyone in the McLaren garage on his return.
Hulkenberg later visited the McLaren hospitality area to apologise for ending Hamilton’s race.
Hamilton said: “I don’t remember too much about the accident with Nico [Hulkenberg], but he came to see me after the race, which was nice.”
As Hamilton made a clean getaway from pole position to lead into the first corner, there was drama further down the field as Bruno Senna’s Williams collided with Sebastian Vettel into Turn Four, sending the Red Bull car spinning.
The collision left world championship leader Vettel at the back of the field on lap one and with a mountain to climb to retain the title.
However, the changeable weather conditions in Brazil played into Vettel’s hand with rain making driving tricky.
As the rain made the track slippery, there was a titanic tussle at the front between the two McLaren teammates on lap six.
Button eventually took Hamilton for the lead a couple of laps later, with Hulkenberg’s Force India in third place and Vettel – with a damaged car – back up to sixth, having carved his way through the field.
Hamilton pitted for intermediate tyres on lap 10 but it wasn’t the slickest of McLaren stops and there was a slight delay with his right rear.
The Stevenage-born 2008 F1 world champion came out of the pits in fourth place behind Button, Hulkenberg and Felipe Massa.
Hamilton regained third place by overtaking the Ferrari of Massa, who was still on older tyres.
The McLaren pitwall told Lewis: “The guys on dries ahead of you are struggling.”
Hamilton replied: “So am I!”
At the front, Hulkenberg took Button for the lead on lap 19 as Hamilton entered the pits to revert back to harder prime tyres with the rain easing and the track drying in places.
The McLaren team informed Button who was still on his first set of tyres: “All cars are pitting again for dry tyres. We’re in a really good position, we’re just racing Hulkenberg.”
Hamilton, meanwhile, asked over the radio: “What position am I?”
The pitwall came: “You’re still P3, 44s behind Jenson.”
However, after 21 laps the safety car was deployed because of debris on the Interlagos circuit.
Hamilton was told over the radio: “This is good, Lewis. We’re going to close up on the two cars ahead of us.”
With rain starting to fall again, young German Hulkenberg led behind the safety car from Button and Hamilton, with title contenders Alonso and Vettel fourth and fifth respectively at that point.
Following the restart, Hamilton used DRS to overtake Button for second place again, while Vettel lost fifth place to the Sauber of Kamui Kobayashi, with the Japanese driver also briefly passing Alonso before losing fourth place to the Ferrari man.
With the Sao Paulo track drying, Hamilton set the fastest lap of the race – a 1m 18.737s – to close the gap to Hulkenberg to under 2.5 seconds.
Lewis then posted another fastest lap, a 1m 18.069s this time, and was later told: “Last lap we were 0.2s faster than Hulkenberg.”
However, drops of rain started falling again to mix things up.
Hamiton chipped away at the Force India driver’s lead.
The pitwall message to Hamilton was: “Gap to Hulkenberg only 1.2s. We’ve almost got DRS.”
Hulkenberg gifted Hamilton the lead after 49 laps when he spun his car at Turn Seven and the McLaren driver regained first place.
He was told over the McLaren radio: “The weather looks pretty stable to us at the moment. You were 1s faster than the cars behind on the last lap.
“Gap to Hulkenberg is 1.5s. He was 0.4s faster on the last lap.”
However, Hamilton’s race came to an end after 55 laps when Hulkenberg tried to overtake again at Turn One on a damp track and the pair collided, forcing Hamilton into retirement – a sad end to his McLaren career.