Mark Webber's first race win of 2011 finally came, at the last race of the year. Sebastian Vettel finished second, after nursing a gearbox problem for virtually the whole race. Jenson Button finished third, after winning a late battle with Fernando Alonso. McLaren's Lewis Hamilton retired with a gearbox issue, as the curtain drew on 2011.
The threat of rain was being widely discussed, but the race started in dry conditions, with Sebastian Vettel easing away from pole, leading Webber and Button. Fernando Alonso made yet another strong start, moving up to fourth after passing Lewis Hamilton into Turn One. Alonso then began to pressure Button, and after closing in in the DRS Zone, Alonso put a beautiful overtaking manouvere on the outside of the fast Ferra Dura corner to take third with one of the best passes of the year.
On lap ten, there was a collision on the pit straight between Michael Schumacher and Bruno Senna. Schuamcher ended a lap down after a puncture from the contact, and the stewards rightly awarded a drive-thru' penalty for the Renault driver. The first round of pit stops were started by Jenson Button, while Felipe Massa led a few laps after coming in later than everyone else.
|After Vettel's problem, Webber was unstoppable.|
Jenson Button was planning a two-stop strategy, but this wasn't working, so he pitted again for medium tyres. As once again the Ferrari had poor pace on the harder compund tyres, Button began to reel Alonso in, passing him relatively easily in the DRS Zone. He was flying, and was taking over half a second a lap out of Vettel, but he didn't have enough laps left, and had to settle for third.
Adrian Sutil claimed a brilliant sixth place after a good battle with Nico Rosberg. Sutil thought he had the job done into turn one, but Rosberg came back at him and took the place back. However the Force India driver took sixth on the next lap, a brilliant result for them. Paul di Resta's eighth meant Force India finished the year just four points behind Renault. Kamui Kobayashi finished ninth, meaning Sauber held on for seventh in the championship, after neither Toro Rosso scored points. Vitaly Petrov was the final points scorer of the season. Webber's win meant he finished the year in third, just one point ahead of Fernando Alonso.
The season is over, and McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes need to seriously up their game if they intend to stop Red Bull's seemingly endless march to stardom.
Goodbye 2011, its been a superb Formula One year.