Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull) won pole in 2013’s final championship round, setting himself up well to tie the records for most wins in a season (13, Michael Schumacher) and most consecutive wins (9, Alberto Ascari). Nico Rosberg weathered the rain to qualify his Mercedes P2, followed by Fernando Alonso (Ferrari, P3) and Mark Webber (Red Bull), making his 215th and final F1 start at P4. Mercedes led Ferrari by 15 points in the manufacturers’ championship coming into the final event.
Rosberg jumped Vettel for the lead at the start, with Hamilton slotting into third. Vettel took the lead as he and Rosberg crossed the start-finish line at the end of Lap 1, with Alonso passing Hamilton to move into third. All car started on dry tires, put the possibility of rain loomed nearby.
Romain Grosjean’s (Lotus) engine blew during Lap 4. Alonso moved Rosberg to third, with Webber taking the spot during Lap 7. Webber passed Alonso for second at the end of Lap 12. Alonso pitted from third during Lap 22 (of 71) as rain closed in. Both Red Bulls pitted within the next few laps, a very slow stop for Webber surrendering P2 to Alonso but retaking it on track.
Felipe Massa, running fourth, was issued a drive-through penalty during Lap 32 for crossing the lines into pit lane while remaining on track during an earlier lap. Massa waited until the final allowable moment to take his penalty, allowing Alonso to stretch out the distance between himself and Hamilton.
Valtteri Bottas (Willams) and Hamilton both lost tires during Lap 47 after rear-wheel contact between the two. Vettel pitted after crossing the line to start Lap 48 and apparently caught his team off guard, as the right front tire was not staged for the stop. The delay stacked Webber waiting to enter the pit box. Hamliton was given a drive-through penalty for the collision.
Vettel took the win and tied the record. Webber finished second to stand on the podium for his last F1 start. Alonso came in third. Sergio Perez (McLaren) finished sixth after starting P19 in his last race for the team. Webber’s ride moved him past Hamilton for third in the drivers’ championship, He doffed his helmet for the cool down lap, enjoying his last F1 ride to the fullest. Vettel let Webber take the mic first on the podium. Kind of like Walter White, the second you’re sure this guy is a megalomaniacal dickhead, the second he proves you wrong.
Drivers’ championship final points
Constructors’ championship final points
Next event: Australian Grand Prix – Melbourne – Mar. 13-16, 2014