CANADIAN ROBERT WICKENS WINS WORLD SERIES BY RENAULT TITLE HUGE CRASH IN BATHURST 1000. WATCH VIDEO HERE
CANADIAN ROBERT WICKENS WINS WORLD SERIES BY RENAULT TITLE
HUGE CRASH IN BATHURST 1000. WATCH VIDEO HERE
Huge news for Sebastien Vettel fans and just as huge news Sunday for Canadian racing fans in general.
Vettel won his second world championship of drivers title by finishing third in the Japanese Grand Prix – Jenson Button won the race, with Fernando Alonso second – while Canadian Formula One hope Robert Wickens of Guelph and Toronto won the World Series by Renault Formula 3.5 championship at Barcelona.
It marks Wickens’s first major European championship after finishing second in Formula 2 and GP3 the last two seasons.
Wickens is officially the Marussia-Virgin F1 team’s reserve driver and this championship will go a long way toward his promotion to an F1 seat in 2012, particularly since the current drivers – Timo Glock and Jerome D’Ambrosio - could only finish 20th and 21st in the Japanese race, both two laps behind.
At Suzuka, Vettel was very emotional following the race. The points he earned for finishing third clinched the championship for him, even though there are still four races remaining in the 2011 season.
"I’m so thankful for everyone in the team," he said at the post-race press conference. He then went on to pay tribute to everyone associated with Red Bull Racing, including the race and factory employees, his teammate, Mark Webber, and even his personal trainer, "the person I spend the most of my time with."
He apologized for "taking so long," and then congratulated winner Button and second-place finisher Alonso, who had been the first to offer a handshake when the race ended.
Button took a little longer to offer his congratulations, although he eventually paid tribute to the new champion. He was undoubtedly still seething about an incident at the start of the race that saw Vettel nearly drive him off the track.
At lights out, Vettel – who was on pole – moved across the track to block Button’s progress toward the first corner, a right-hand turn. Button’s right-side tires went onto the grass before he lifted his foot off the throttle, at which point Vettel laid off and took the corner in first place.
Lewis Hamilton, Button’s teammate who started third, was able to pass him and move into second behind Vettel. The crowding and losing a spot to his teammate undoubtedly infuriated Button, who asked his team to complain to the stewards, which it did.
No action was taken. However, moments after the race ended, when Button and Vettel met face-to-face in a lounge before going to the podium, the race winner said to the new champion:
"Didn’t you see me at the start?"
Vettel replied that they were racing.
"Okay, that’s the way we’ll race from now on," said Button.
(Vettel told TV reporters later that he hadn't seen Button. That story is here)
Vettel’s "chop," for want of a better word, was reminiscent of a move seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher – who finished sixth on Sunday – almost patented. Schumacher would frequently drive across the bow of the other front-row starter in grands prix and, in fact, once lined up on the grid at an almost-45-degree angle in anticipation of cutting off the No. 2 starter’s progress.
As he got away with that for years, there was no way the stewards could penalize Vettel.
Vettel won the last two Japan Grands Prix and was shooting for a hat trick. In the latter stages of the race, he challenged Alonso for second and you knew that if he got past him, he’d go after Button.
But Red Bull radioed him to take it easy, that there was more at stake than a better finishing position in a race, so he slowed down after that to finish third.
Webber finished fourth, Hamilton fifth, Schumacher (Mercedes) sixth, Felipe Massa (Ferrari) was seventh, Sergio Perez (Sauber) eighth, Vitaly Petrov (Renault) was ninth and Nico Rosberg (Mercedes) was tenth.
There are four races remaining - Korea, India, Abu Dhabi and Brazil. Although Alonso talked about motivation for Ferrari to keep pushing, the season is essentially over. Vettel has won the championship and all the teams are working on their 2012 cars.
It will really be a lame duck schedule from now on.
At Barcelona, Wickens went into the final race with a nine-point lead over his teammate, Jean Eric Vergne of France. They were the only two in contention for the championship.
As it turned out, neither finished the contest. Wickens was caught up in a first turn pileup that put him out and Vergne – although able to keep going – was driving a car that was mortally wounded and he eventually had to stop.
But a series championship is a championship. Wickens and Vergne were racing right to the end. Neither let up in the finale, which was a reflection of the way they went at each other all year.
They are two hard-driving young racers with wonderful futures.
Although Wickens won his championship, he lost his Red Bull sponsorship after finishing second in the Formula 2 series. Vergne is a Red Bull driver and promotion to the Scuderia Toro Rosso could very well be in the cards for him.
On the other hand, he didn't win - and that's what sunk Wickens two years ago, as far as Red Bull was concerned.
JAPANESE GRAND PRIX
1. Button McLaren-Mercedes 1h30:53.427
2. Alonso Ferrari + 1.160
3. Vettel Red Bull-Renault + 2.006
4. Webber Red Bull-Renault + 8.071
5. Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes + 24.268
6. Schumacher Mercedes + 27.120
7. Massa Ferrari + 28.240
8. Perez Sauber-Ferrari + 39.377
9. Petrov Renault + 42.607
10. Rosberg Mercedes + 44.322
11. Sutil Force India-Mercedes + 54.447
12. Di Resta Force India-Mercedes + 1:02.326
13. Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari + 1:03.705
14. Alguersuari Toro Rosso-Ferrari + 1:04.194
15. Maldonado Williams-Cosworth + 1:06.623
16. Senna Renault + 1:12.628
17. Barrichello Williams-Cosworth + 1:14.191
18. Kovalainen Lotus-Renault + 1:27.824
19. Trulli Lotus-Renault + 1:36.140
20. Glock Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
21. D'Ambrosio Virgin-Cosworth + 2 laps
22. Ricciardo HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
23. Liuzzi HRT-Cosworth + 2 laps
Driver Team On lap
Buemi Toro Rosso-Ferrari 35
World Championship standings,
1. Vettel 324 1. Red Bull-Renault 518
2. Button 210 2. McLaren-Mercedes 388
3. Alonso 202 3. Ferrari 292