VETTEL SNATCHES CHAMPIONSHIP IN BRIDGESTONE'S FINAL RACE
Bridgestone's final race in Formula One was certainly one to remember, with Germany's Sebastian Vettel snatching an improbable World Championship title at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
Having qualified on pole position, the Red Bull driver started on Bridgestone's super-soft Potenza tyres and drove a faultless race to claim victory to become the youngest champion in Formula One history.
"I'm speechless. I don't know what you are supposed to say in these moments, it has been an incredibly tough season for myself and all of us, physically and mentally," Vettel said.
"We always kept believing in ourselves - no matter what people said - in the team and in our car. I kept believing in myself and this was a special day all round."
The race was a disaster for the other two championship contenders. Fernando Alonso and Australia's Mark Webber both pitted to change to the medium-compound Potenzas early in the race, but became stuck in the mid-field traffic.
All Alonso had to do was finished fourth and the title would be his - but he and Webber ended up seventh and eighth respectively, meaning the Ferrari driver finished four points behind Vettel in the championship with Webber another 10 points back.
For Webber, it was a disappointing end to a season during which he had led the driver's championship until the final two races.
"This weekend didn't turn out and it's a shame, but it's a good time to reflect in the next few weeks and look back at the highs and the lows but that's the way the sport is sometimes," Webber said.
"There have been quite a few emotions over the last couple of weeks; when you come so close to the top and just miss out, it's a shame, but I tried my absolute hardest and I have great guys around me. I'll be fighting again next season."
For Bridgestone, it was a fitting finale to its 14-year association with Formula One.
"Congratulations to Sebastian Vettel for snatching the drivers' championship in such a strong fashion," said Hiroshi Yasukawa, Director of Bridgestone Motorsport.
"This is our last race, but it comes at the end of a fantastic season where there has been a great championship battle as a fitting finale to all the drama and excitement we have enjoyed over the past 14 seasons.
"Our brand awareness has grown tremendously in this period and our worldwide sales companies have supported us with numerous activities and events. In addition to thanking all the Bridgestone personnel I would like to thank everyone in Formula One for all the friendships and support we have enjoyed over the years. Thank you also to all the Formula One and motorsport fans around the world, I hope you have enjoyed our passion for excellence."
FINAL CHAMPIONSHIP STANDINGS
|1. ||Sebastian Vettel (Ger) ||Red Bull ||256 points |
|2. ||Fernando Alonso (Sp) ||Ferrari ||252 |
|3. ||Mark Webber (Aus) ||Red Bull ||242 |
|4. ||Lewis Hamilton (GB) ||McLaren ||240 |
STRONG WEEKEND FOR TANDER
It was a strong weekend for Garth Tander at Symmons Plains Raceway in Tasmania, with the Holden Racing Team driver claiming second and sixth in the two races.
The Bridgestone-backed Commodore chased home Craig Lowndes in the weekend's opening race before Tander backed up with sixth place behind eventual winner Mark Winterbottom in Sunday's event.
However, most of the attention was focused on the front of the field where championship contenders James Courtney (Ford) and Jamie Whincup (Holden) both had mixed results.
Courtney kept his championship lead, but only because Whincup had to pit late in the second race to take on more fuel after an error by his pit crew. The Ford driver now leads by 50 points with just four races remaining.
The battle for the V8 Supercars title resumes next weekend at Melbourne's Sandown circuit.