Performance Podium: Brazil

Following a spectacular end to the season at the Brazilian Grand Prix, in which Sebastian Vettel was crowned world champion, here is the final installment of the Performance Podium for 2012.

1) Jenson Button (McLaren-Mercedes)

Jenson Button mastered the changeable conditions brilliantly to take his third win of the season at Interlagos.

Having lost second to Felipe Massa at the start, Button quickly regained the position from the Ferrari driver and then took the lead from teammate Lewis Hamilton on the eighth lap. Button then gambled on staying out on dry tyres, and along with Nico Hulkenberg, pulled out a 45 second lead on the field.

Although the safety car wiped out that gap, and Button then fell to third behind Hulkenberg and Hamilton, the Englishman continued to lap at a similar pace to the front two, and when the leaders collided at the start of lap 54 Button capitalised to take the lead and finish off the season with a well deserved victory.

2) Lewis Hamilton (McLaren-Mercedes)

Although Lewis Hamilton’s McLaren career ended with a retirement, the Brit signed off from the Woking based team with a hugely impressive display.

After starting on pole, Hamilton lost the lead to Button on lap eight and then conceded further ground to his teammate when he pitted for intermediates in the damp conditions. He ran third until the safety car was deployed and on the restart passed Button to take second, before taking the lead when Nico Hulkenberg made a mistake on lap 49.

It then looked as though Hamilton would win his final race for McLaren, but a collision with Hulkenberg when the Force India tried to retake the lead at the start of lap 54 damaged his suspension and ended what had been an impressive drive early.

3) Nico Hulkenberg (Force India-Mercedes)

For a large part of the race it looked as though Nico Hulkenberg would pull off an astounding win in Interlagos.

Starting sixth, Hulkenberg was up to third by lap five, and after staying out on dry tyres in the opening stages took the lead from Button on lap 19, an advantage he would hold in an inferior Force India for 30 laps. Although a mistake on lap 49 allowed Hamilton to take the lead, Hulkenberg rallied and came back at the McLaren driver, although an outstanding drive was tarnished when he collided with the Englishman and earned himself a drive-through penalty.

Hulkenberg ultimately finished the race fifth, and although his mistake cost him any chance of victory, he was undoubtedly the best driver on the track for the majority of the race and his performance showed everyone why he is regarded by many as a star of the future.

Stephen D’Albiac

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