Sebastian Vettel is now a triple world champion. The youngest in history and what a great race to finish of a thrilling season. Vettel looked drained after the race and is rightly so. Spinning on the first lap and then having to do an extra pitstop when the weather changed, must have put thoughts of losing the world title through his head.
I also feel for Alonso though. We knew going into this weekend that for Alonso to steal the world title, he needed some help. Some wet weather to overcome the car disadvantage he had over the Red Bull and also some quick rivals to put between himself and Vettel. Both things happened, but Alonso just did not have the pace to win the race and title.
At times he was not even the second quickest car on track but more like the seventh or eighth quickest car. Just through a brilliant opening two laps and complete consistency was how he finished second, but a long way off first which was what he needed.
Jenson Button ended up winning the race and along with Lewis Hamilton’s win in the race before, it really showed that the McLaren has had a quick car this year. And by their own admission, they have not got the best from it every weekend which is something they will have to fix for next year.
This is a hard thing to do when they have now lost Hamilton. There is nobody quicker than Button when he is in the zone but he has not been consistent enough, and with Hamilton being the only other driver that is on Vettel and Alonso’s level, he will be an asset for Mercedes next year.
Other stand out performer has to be Kimi Raikkonen this year. Lotus produced a good car, but no one expected Raikkonen to hit the ground running and to be so consistent that he would even finish the year with a win. Well done to him and it will be fun to see if he can repeat that next year.
His teammate, Romain Grosjean was one of the worst drivers but also one of the best this year. He had too many accidents and even after his one race ban, he did not seem to understand that he was doing anything wrong. Only after collecting Webber at Suzuka did he show the contriteness to indicate that he was ready to reevaluate how he approaches races. But you cannot deny he has been outstandingly quick on occasion this year and I hope we see his full potential soon, maybe even next year.
I have also enjoyed watching Sergio Perez and Nico Hulkenburg this year. Perez showed flashes of brilliance but I’m afraid that there is still a learning curve for him to go through. Ferrari did not use him when Massa was under performing earlier in the year, so perhaps they know that there is still some maturity for him to attain. McLaren have taken a risk with him for next year to replace Hamilton and it will fun to see how quickly he can improve to Button’s level.
Hulkenberg is probably still underrated and I have seen enough of him to think that he is ready for a big team. He moves to Sauber next year, and hopefully they will provide a car to showcase what he can do.
—The writer is a Formula One
expert with Star Sports