Scuderia Ferrari drivers, Fernando Alonso and Kimi Raikkonen finished the Brazilian Grand Prix in sixth and seventh places respectively, after staging a great duel, which saw them swap positions with only a few laps to go.
Everything went smoothly for Fernando at the start, as he maintained eighth place, while Kimi emerged from the Senna Esses in 12th place. The first pit stop came very early, as the Soft tyres degraded very quickly, after track temperature had exceeded 50 degrees. All the drivers tackled the second stint on the Medium tyres, which were clearly more consistent, to the extent that Fernando and Kimi extended the stint, making up places before their second stops. Kimi had a really strong race pace at this point, which, while the pit stops were on, saw him run as high as third.
However, the Finn’s stop was slow because of a problem with the front jack, but Kimi didn’t give up, lapping quickly and consistently, so the team decided to run him to the flag without a third stop. Therefore, with Alonso having stopped three times, the two men found themselves running together and they put on one of the most thrilling duels of the day, fighting wheel to wheel but perfectly fairly. In the end, because his tyres were more worn, Kimi had to give best to Fernando, but finishing seventh, having completed one less stop than the rest.
Nico Rosberg took the win for Mercedes, ahead of team-mate Lewis Hamilton, who keeps the lead in the championship, with Felipe Massa third for Williams. Fourth was Jenson Button (McLaren) and fifth was Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull.) The final round takes place in two weeks time in Abu Dhabi, with double points being allocated.
"After a far from easy weekend, I am reasonably pleased with the outcome of the race, because even if we weren't very competitive, we managed to score a good number of points. Today, degradation was particularly high, especially in the first stint on the Softs, which lasted less time than expected because of graining. When I passed Kimi, my tyres were newer than his, as he was on a two stop, but I was having to save fuel and after that overtaking move, there was nothing more I could do. Now there's just one race to go this season and in terms of the constructors' championship, we hope to manage to keep McLaren behind us in the final race in Abu Dhabi. As for myself, I reckon I'm in the position I deserve, because others have done better."
Kimi Raikkonen:"Overall, this has been a positive weekend and even today in the race, I felt very good in the car. During the second stint, we realised that if we went for a two stop strategy, we could make up ground, but then, at my second pit stop, I lost valuable time and that cost me some places. In the final part of the race, I had to fight off Button for a few laps and when Fernando caught me, tyre degradation meant I couldn't fend him off. We leave Interlagos with a good feeling and even if we still have a lot of work ahead of us, this continued progress makes me confident for the future."
Marco Mattiacci:"I believe this weekend ended on a positive note for the team, with both our drivers finishing higher than their grid positions to bring home important points. With Kimi we decided to risk putting him to a two stop strategy and he was able to show that, if he feels comfortable with his car, he can get the most out of himself in terms of managing the tyres. We are disappointed to have lost a few seconds at his pit stop and we take away the lesson that we must improve in every area that can affect performance. As for Fernando, he produced an equally perfect race and in the late duel with his team mate he was clear headed and precise in his driving. Clearly, fighting for the places we secured today is not our aim, but the team continues to improve day by day as we work on getting back to fighting at the front of the field."
Pat Fry:"Like the majority of the grid, today we were planning to run a three stop strategy, as we knew that the increase in temperatures, the nature of the circuit and the abrasive track surface would impact heavily on tyre behaviour. Managing the two compounds was extremely complicated, with an early first stop to get rid of the Softs, because of graining, to take on the Mediums which degraded rapidly but in a more linear fashion. The decision to switch Kimi to a two stop paid off as, surprisingly, he was able to run consistently for no less than 36 laps. Fernando found himself fighting with Vettel in the Red Bull, who probably had a bit more pace today, but taking sixth place along with Kimi's seventh, gives us a reasonable margin in the constructors' classification over McLaren. Overall, it was a positive weekend and, in future we must ensure we get on top of any reliability problems, like the ones we've had over the past few days."