• Sebastian Vettel win secures constructors title for Red Bull
• Lewis Hamilton’s hopes crumble after Briton finishes fourth
The Brazilian grand prix represented the high-water mark in the short but brilliant story of Red Bull. This was their eighth win of the season and their fourth one-two placement.
The result, moreover, gave them their first world championship – the constructors’ title – in only six seasons of a high-gradient evolution.
Sebastian Vettel, with his ninth victory and his fourth of the season, propelled himself from the edge of the drivers’ championship to its raucous centre with another assured drive, so that he goes to the last race in Abu Dhabi next Sunday with a very real chance of taking the glory.
Not that this result was a disaster for his team?mate Mark Webber, who closed from 11 to eight points behind the leader, Fernando Alonso.
However, if Alonso does take the title next week it would not be inappropriate were he and Ferrari to send a few gallons of champagne to Red Bull’s headquarters in Milton Keynes.
While Red Bull should be heartily applauded for the championship they did win today their apparent acceptance that Ferrari might carry off the more glamorous prize continues to baffle Formula One and its globetrotting supporters.
Their refusal to make life easy for Webber, who has led for much of the season and is still seven points ahead of Vettel, means that whatever happens in the desert next week Alonso, the only driver who was capable of taking the championship in the race today, only has to secure second place to guarantee his third world title.
There was a tedium about the race – certainly when contrasted with the many epic challenges that have marked this outstanding season – that gave birth to the scandalous notion that it needed a high-speed carjacker to lend it excitement.
Nico Hülkenberg, the rookie pole-winner yesterday, did not hold the lead beyond the first corner, as his compatriot Vettel slipped past him, and by Turn 4 Webber had passed him too.
Alonso, though, had to wrestle for a further six laps before he was able to pass the Williams car and then it was the turn of Lewis Hamilton, who toiled behind the talented young German for a further eight laps.
Hamilton’s ultimate fourth place ended his realistic chances of winning the title (he is 24 points behind so must win on Sunday while the top three fail to finish) while Jenson Button, who was fifth, can already concentrate his thoughts on 2011.
The refusal of Red Bull to give any instructions to Vettel at least freed up Webber to race primarily for himself and there were periods in the race when he started to run his German team?mate to ground. Then, when the safety car emerged with 20 laps remaining, it appeared to give Webber another chance among the heavy and bunched?up traffic.
However Vettel, whose advantage over his fellow Red Bull driver had been more than two seconds for most of the race, pulled away once more and from that moment on Webber’s primary concern was to hold off a charging Alonso, who exchanged fastest lap times with the front two.
Hamilton, who had a frustrating afternoon with his car and complained about a lack of grip, took the opportunity of a free pit stop when the safety car emerged. However, he never looked capable of catching Alonso to keep his title chances looking healthy.
Afterwards Webber was asked if the team should have swapped the order of its cars today. He said: “It would have helped but it’s not the team’s philosophy. It was a good drive by Seb today for the win and that is how it is.
“The team is going for the position it has always done on the sporting side and that is how it is. Fernando got some points at Hockenheim [where Felipe Massa was asked to move aside] which happened in the past and will happen in the future.
“Everyone has different ideas and that is how it is. I still have a good chance and will go to Abu Dhabi and do my best.”
Vettel, however, was the man under most of the bright lights after this race. When he was asked whether he would move over next week to help Webber win the title, he said: “We will have to see where we are next week. We will go into the race and take if from there. As a kid I never liked it when my parents teased me when they wouldn’t answer my question so now I am in a position to tease you for your questions. Winning the constructors’ championship is special for me because I came to England in 2005 and drove to Milton Keynes as a boy, shortly after I got my driving license.”
Meanwhile, a disconsolate Hamilton admitted his race was virtually run. “We weren’t quick enough here and we won’t be quick enough in Abu Dhabi,” the McLaren driver said. “Realistically, we need a miracle. But I’ll keep trying, we have nothing to lose now.”
There are still four drivers who can win this title but it is really between Red Bull and Ferrari now.