A series taken from the 162-page Motor Sport special 100 Greatest Grands Prix (other specials are available here).
Trailing Sebastian Vettel by 13 points, but with 25 at stake, Fernando Alonso arrived in Brazil on the back foot, but his mission received ‘outside assistance’ within seconds of the start.
Vettel was chopped by team-mate Mark Webber, dropped to seventh and then spun at Turn Four following contact with Bruno Senna’s Williams. The Red Bull was damaged, but driveable.
Lewis Hamilton led initially, but rain soon hit and triggered a series of tyre stops – although Jenson Button and Nico Hülkenberg stuck with slicks and pulled well clear as the track dried. Hülkenberg led when the safety car was deployed on lap 23, because of track debris.
View the 2012 Brazilian Grand Prix on the Database
When the race resumed the top two headed Hamilton, Alonso and Vettel, who had been flying in the wet (despite iffy aero balance). Hamilton passed Button on lap 31, then led after Hülkenberg half-spun. Back came the German, though, and when it rained again he was quicker… though his efforts to recapture the lead ended in a collision that eliminated Hamilton. Cue a drive-through…
That left Button clear of the Ferraris – and second would be enough for Alonso only if Vettel finished eighth or lower, which never looked likely.
The German partially lost his radio shortly before half-distance: he could hear his crew but not reply. He pitted on lap 52, for mediums, but returned two laps later because of rain. The team wasn’t expecting him, though, and had no intermediates prepared. He remained seventh, though, which became sixth when he passed Michael Schumacher. The title was his. “In terms of stress,” said Red Bull team principal Christian Horner, “I have never known a race quite like it.” SA
About 100 Greatest Grands Prix | From the editor Damien Smith
The Grand Prix motor races we can never forget…
This was a special one-off magazine, dedicated to our love of Grand Prix racing and produced by the same team that brings you Motor Sport each month.
It seemed a good idea: whittle down 107 years of racing history to come up with 100 GPs that could be considered the ‘greatest’ – then rank them in meritocratic order. By week three, the old grey matter was beginning to ache…
Defining greatness was the first task. There were the obvious races – the wheel-to-wheel duels, the comeback classics. But there were also individual performances of supreme dominance, races that might not necessarily have been the most exciting to witness. Greatness goes way beyond thrill-a-minute, we decided.
Choosing which races should make the list was hard enough; ranking the top 100 in some sort of order was even tougher, especially when it came to the crunch: which should be number one? We never did agree unanimously on the ‘greatest’, but if the magazine was to be finished a decision had to be taken. And that’s what I’m here for!
Will you agree with our choice and order? Probably not. But if steam begins to issue from your ears, take a deep breath. In any exercise such as this, there is no definitive list – because there can’t be. Our top 100 is based on opinion, nothing more, designed to be a bit of fun and to spark good-natured debate among fans of the world’s greatest sport.
You can download 100 Greatest Grands Prix in PDF form in the Motor Sport app.