By Alex Kapadia
He was not the fastest on the day, but Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel has claimed his third consecutive world title after coming sixth in the Brazilian Grand Prix.
McLaren’s Jenson Button stormed to victory with a two-stop tyres strategy, but the day belonged to Vettel, who became the youngest-ever triple world champion.
Paul Hembery, Pirelli’s motorsport director, said: “Congratulations to Red Bull and Sebastian Vettel, who adapted their strategy calls brilliantly to changing circumstances, as well as to Fernando Alonso and Ferrari, who pushed them every inch of the way.
“We’d also like to congratulate Jenson Button, who got the very best out of both the slick and the intermediate tyres, and take this opportunity to pay tribute to Michael Schumacher: a great champion and fantastic ambassador for the sport, who ended his final grand prix in the points.”
Hembery added: “On this day 11 years ago we won the World Rally Championship with Richard Burns, so it is quite fitting that today we have seen another truly dramatic title-decider, here in Interlagos.
“The weather played a huge part in proceedings, forcing the teams to alter their strategy and react to the changing conditions.
“The teams faced a particularly hard task because conditions in free practice and qualifying were a lot warmer and much drier, so today was a step into the unknown.
“With the weather so unpredictable, some teams used strategy by putting one driver on slicks and the other on intermediates, in order to have real-time data about the relative performance of the tyres.
“A further variable affecting the tyre strategy was also the lengthy safety car period in the first half of the race, which reduced the amount of wear with the cars still on heavy fuel.
“Even when the rain was falling hard in the first half of the race, the medium tyres still generated enough heat and grip to enable Jenson Button to maintain control without going onto the intermediate.