Sebastian Vettel has been crowned the youngest ever three-times Formula One (F1) world champion following an eventful final race of the season in Brazil.
The stage was set for an epic end-of-season battle between Red Bull's German ace and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, with Vettel simply needing to finish ahead of his Spanish rival to secure a third world championship in a row.
However, it was one of those days when the sporting gods conspired to make things difficult for Vettel, as despite qualifying on the second row of the grid – behind both McLarens of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button – a first lap incident between Vettel and Bruno Senna saw the title swing in favour of Alonso.
Battling from the back of the field and with considerable damage to his car, Vettel was able to overcome adversity to finish in a creditable sixth place and with Alonso coming in second at the chequered flag, it was enough for the German to seal his third championship in three years.
As a result, Vettel now joins an esteemed group of F1 drivers who have achieved the feat of three consecutive world titles, alongside Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.
Meanwhile, last weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos was also a special occasion for the seven-times world champion, with Schumacher bowing out of the sport for the second, and most probably, final time.
With an epic season now wrapped up, attention switches to 2013, with the dominance of Red Bull likely to continue as the regulations regarding car setup and design are fairly static for the new year.
As a result, Alonso will be pushing his Ferrari teammates to make considerable gains in terms of performance over the coming winter break, as losing out on the title by just three points will certainly have the Spaniard fired up for another challenge next year.
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Posted by Mark Thompson