Sebastian Vettel kept himself in the hunt for a first world championship crown with victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix, but Red Bull Racing may have handed rivals Ferrari the initiative after allowing the German to head team-mate Mark Webber across the line.
The Australian continues to be RBR’s better bet for the title, but will now go to the finale in Abu Dhabi eight points adrift of Fernando Alonso instead of potentially just one behind.
Vettel led from the opening corner, having barged his way past rookie polesitter Nico Hulkenberg, while the handful of corners Webber spent behind the young German – and again working through traffic after a mid-race safety car – effectively cost him the chance to take destiny into his own hands by challenging Vettel on the road.
Alonso lost even more time behind Hulkenberg, having also had to work his way past Lewis Hamilton, and was never close enough to threaten the Red Bulls, but retained a significant championship advantage thanks to third place – and RBR’s intransigence over equality between its drivers. Red Bull, meanwhile, claimed the constructors’ title.
Hamilton and McLaren team-mate Jenson Button rounded out the top five, despite both making second tyre stops under the safety car, but while Button’s performance was notable, – not only because he came form eleventh on the grid, but having also suffered a robbery attempt on the streets of Sao Paulo after qualifying – he can no longer win the title. Hamilton, meanwhile, needs victory in Abu Dhabi with none of his rivals finishing.
Nico Rosberg and Michael Schumacher claimed sixth and seventh for Mercedes, having also got ahead of poleman Hulkenberg during the initial pit-stop phase, while Robert Kubica and Kamui Kobayashi filled the final points-paying positions.