Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber claimed yet another 1-2 as Red Bull won the Constructors' title in Brazil, Fernando Alonso's lead in the Drivers' was cut and Jenson Button dropped out of the battle.
CONDITIONS: Christian Klein lost drive on his HRT on the way to the grid and had to start from the pitlane. In bright sunshine the ambient temperature was 24C and the track at a massive 50C.
GRID: 1.Hulkenberg, 2.Vettel, 3.Webber, 3.Alonso, 4.Hamilton, 5.Alonso, 6.Barrichello, 7.Kubica, 8.Schumacher, 9.Massa, 10.Petrov, 11.Button, 12.Kobayashi
START:Vettel was quickly away from the dirty side of the grid and squeezed up the inside of Nico Hulkenberg into Turn 1 to take the lead. Webber had to wait till the exit of Turn 4 when the Williams polesitter ran wide, to squeeze through as well.
Behind them, everyone got through the Senna Esses safely with the exception of Vitaly Petrov who got pushed out wide and fell to the back of the field.
Lewis Hamilton had managed to keep Fernando Alonso at bay on the opening lap, but the Championship leader looked very racy behind the McLaren.
LAP ONE ORDER: 1.Vettel, 2.Webber, 3.Hulkenberg, 4.Hamilton, 5.Alonso, 6.Kubica, 7.Barrichello, 8.Massa, 9.Button, 10.Schumacher, 11.Rosberg, 12.Heidfeld
Hamilton had to move to the inside to cover a move from Alonso at Turn 1 on the second lap and he also had to cover a move into Turn 4 which pushed the McLaren out wide on the exit and over the kerbs, and the Ferrari got through into P4 easily.
Ironically Nico Hulkenberg proved a lot more difficult to get past, but Alonso got by on Lap 6 and set off in pursuit of the Red Bulls. Although at this stage both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber were significantly quicker. By Lap 8 Vettel had a 2.7 gap to Webber, who was a massive 8.8 seconds ahead of Alonso with the gap growing.
Michael Schumacher had got the better of Jenson Button to take his 9th place on Lap 3 and it was a surprise to see the Brit in for tyres as early as Lap 11. The move proved to be a good one from the McLaren team as Button became the fastest runner outside of the top four and started to make up ground on the cars in front that were yet to stop.
Ferrari reacted to the move by bringing Felipe Massa in from P8 a lap later, but Button had the impetus and passed him easily into Turn 4 after Massa exited the pitlane. Massa was soon back into the pits, though, after he felt his front right tyre was loose. The second stop put him at the back of the field.
The other big Brazilian hero, Rubens Barrichello, had been running in P7 but when he came in for his tyre stop on Lap 13, a stubborn rear tyre delayed him badly. Later in the race he would get caught up with a Toro Rosso going through the Senna Esses and puncture a front tyre.
On Lap 14 Hulkenberg and Kubica pitted together, while Lewis Hamilton - who had been between them - continued on. Such was Jenson Button's pace that he leapfrogged both the Williams driver and the Renault driver who had been 4th and 6th before their stop.
While Vettel, Webber and Alonso had got past Hulkenberg, Hamilton had languished behind, collecting a train of vehicles that Button was now likely to get in front of, with the exception of his team-mate.
On Lap 15 Button overtook Petrov in a move reminiscent of his through-the-field charge of 2009 and he was up into 10th place and with his pit-stop out of the way. Vettel still led Webber by 2.4 seconds with a distant Alonso 11 seconds behind the Australian.
LAP EIGHTEEN ORDER: 1.Vettel, 2.Webber, 3.Alonso, 4.Hamilton, 5.Schumacher, 6.Rosberg, 7.Buemi, 8.Kobayashi, 9.Sutil, 10. Button (pitted), 11.Petrov, 12.Hulkenberg, 13.Kubica
Lewis Hamilton came in for his tyre stop on Lap 20 along with Michael Schumacher. Hamilton exited only just in front of team-mate Button, but the World Champion had got the jump on the Mercedes driver. Hamilton set off on his new tyres very quickly and put in the fastest laps on Lap 23 and Lap 24, the second of which was a 1:16.274.
Such was Hamilton's pace that the Ferrari team felt they had to react and brought in Fernando Alonso at the end of Lap 25. This triggered the Red Bull tyre stops, Vettel on Lap 26 and Webber on Lap 27. All went smoothly.
Rosberg, Kobayashi and Sutil were still circulating on their original tyres and although the two McLarens could get by Adrian Sutil fairly easily Michael Schumacher (despite his new tyres) was stuck for a way past. This delay allowed Nico Rosberg to pit and come out in front of him.
Back at the front and armed with their new tyres, the Red Bull drivers were trading fastest laps. On Lap 27 it was Vettel with a 1:15.968, on Lap 28 it was Mark Webber with a 1:15.839 and on Lap 29 it was Vettel again with a 1:15.797.
LAP TWENTY-NINE ORDER: 1.Vettel, 2.Webber, 3.Alonso, 4.Hamilton, 5.Kobayashi (not stopped), 6.Button, 7.Rosberg, 8.Sutil (not stopped), 9.Schumacher 10.Hulkenberg, 11.Kubica
Vettel was keeping the gap to Webber at around 2.9 seconds. By Lap 40 it was virtually the same, despite the ebb and flow of being held up by backmarkers. Lewis Hamilton, at 10 seconds down, was making no progress on Fernando Alonso and even radioed back at one stage to check that his F-duct was working - at the time he was the fastest driver in the final sector.
Behind sixth place Rosberg, Kobayashi was struggling with understeer on his Sauber having started on the harder tyre, but he was still ahead of Adrian Sutil's Force India which was also yet to stop. Sutil had gathered an impressive train of cars and by Lap 42, all the cars from his P8 down to Massa in P15 were lined up behind him.
The race took on a different complexion on Lap 51 when Tonio Liuzzi lost control of his Force India and smashed into the barriers at Turn 2. With the car just off the racing line there was no option but to deploy the Safety Car.
Because both Hamilton and Button had big gaps on their respective rivals, the McLaren team used the opportunity to bring them both in for new tyres without losing position. Incredibly Nico Rosberg was able to come in twice for tyres and also still retain his position, such was the holding pattern that Adrian Sutil had created.
As they lined up behind the Safety Car there were a lot of lapped cars in between the front runners. Vettel had Kubica and Rubens Barrichello between himself and Mark Webber. There were another four between Webber and Alonso.
LAP FIFTY-THREE ORDER: 1.Vettel, 2.Webber, 3.Alonso, 4.Hamilton, 5.Button, 6.Schumacher, 7.Rosberg, 8.Hulkenberg, 9.Kubica, 10.Alguersuari, 11.Buemi, 12.Kobayashi
When the race finally got underway again on Lap 56 it was chaos as the backmarkers failed to heed the blue flags. Alguersuari showed no sign of letting Alonso get past him and started to drive defensively. Heidfeld and Massa were slow to get out of the way of the cars that were lapping them and though Heidfeld got a drive-through penalty for his troubles, it could have been six or seven people in the same position. In the mellee, Nico Rosberg got past Michael Schumacher.
Massa then had an incident going into Turn 4 whilst trying to go round the outside of Buemi and got bounced into the run-off tarmac. Adrian Sutil put a more successful move on Buemi into Turn 1 on Lap 63 but it would only net him 12th place.
With the interlopers cleared out of the gaps, Alonso set off in pursuit of Webber and managed to reduce the gap to just 2.2 seconds on Lap 69 out of 71 but it looked more like an attempt at forcing a mistake than an attempt to get past. Hamilton and Button both had new tyres compared to Alonso's much older rubber but the Ferrari driver easily matched their pace.
Lewis Hamilton managed to take the fastest lap of the race on Lap 66 at 1:13.851, but Alonso was only fractionally slower and never looked under threat from the cars behind him. Sebastian Vettel duly took a much-deserved win from Webber and Alonso. With McLaren just 4th and 5th the Red Bull team had enough points to claim the constructors' title with a race to spare.
Incredibly Nico Rosberg managed to finish sixth after starting in P13 and putting in three pit-stops to Michael Schumacher's one. Schumi finishing in seventh. It had been a gripping contest but a major disappointment for the home fans with both leading Brazilian drivers out of contention from early on.
Before the race Fernando Alonso was pretty sure that the F1 showdown would be concluded next week in Abu Dhabi. He was right.
01. Vettel Red Bull-Renault 1h33:11.803
02. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 4.243
03. Alonso Ferrari + 6.807
04. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 14.634
05. Button McLaren-Mercedes + 15.593
06. Rosberg Mercedes + 35.300
07. Schumacher Mercedes + 43.400
08. Hulkenberg Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
09. Kubica Renault + 1 lap
10. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
11. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
12. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 1 lap
13. Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1 lap
14. Massa Ferrari + 1 lap
15. Petrov Renault + 1 lap
16. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1 lap
17. Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari + 1 lap
18. Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth + 2 laps
19. Trulli Lotus-Cosworth + 2 laps
20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
21. Senna HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
22. Klien HRT-Cosworth + 6 laps
Did Not Finish
Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 63
Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 50
Any reproduction, publication or redistribution of this material without the written agreement of 365 Media Group is strictly forbidden.