Domenicali: Title was Fernando's
'IF ONLY' EXCUSES: Spaniard Fernando Alonso believes he was the true winner of the 2012 F1 Drivers' championship. Whatever, he was only second in the season-ending Brazilian GP. Image: AFP
SAO PAULO, Brazil - Ferrari soured Sebastian Vettel's triple World title party by insisting that Spaniard Fernando Alonso should have been crowned 2012 champion - an acrimonious, season-finale, parting shot.
Red Bull driver Vettel's sixth in the Brazilian GP on Sunday was enough to make the 25-year-old German the youngest three-times champion in the sport's history by three points but Ferrari insisted that Alonso, second on Sunday, should have been the man celebrating a third career title, pointing to controversial races in Belgium and Japan.
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali said Alonso paid a heavy price for first-lap exits in those countries, shunted out of contention by Lotus drivers Romain Grosjean and Kimi Raikkonen respectively. He was further aggrieved when Vettel, accused of blocking Alonso in qualifying in Japan before going on to win the race, escaped with a reprimand.
"We are proud of Fernando," Domenicali told www.autosport.com, "but we are very disappointed because the one who deserved this championship was really him. It is a shame because, after such a long season that we really fight in all conditions, we raced 18 races and not 20 -- and being second by three points is not a lot.
"Watch the facts. Zero points in two races (Belgium and Japan) so we have done what we have done with 18 races. The others had 20 - and the points were over 20 races. These are facts, not words."
Domenicali remained gracious, however, in his praise of Vettel who was in a collision with Williams' Bruno Senna on the opening lap, spun, and finished at the back of the field before fighting his way back.
"Sometimes there is a sign of destiny where you really can appreciate what is the direction of the wind," he said.
Alonso, second behind McLaren's Jenson Button, also insisted his campaign had been undermined at Spa and Suzuka. "The championship was not lost here," said the still two-times champion. "The championship was lost when (Romain) Grosjean flew over my head (at Spa) or when Vettel surprisingly got only a reprimand after qualifying in Japan."
Vettel refused to become involved in the argument but did allude to his rivals' controversial decision the previous weekend in Texas to change Felipe Massa's Ferrari to allow Alonso to enjoy a grid advantage. "A lot of people tried to play dirty tricks but we did not get distracted by that and kept going our way and all the guys gave a big push right to the end," Vettel told the BBC.
The German struggled with his emotions on Sunday's final lap, completed behind the pace car. "It's difficult to imagine what goes through my head now. I am full of adrenalin - if you poked me now I wouldn't feel it. It was such an incredible race. When you get turned around (the Senna collision) and it becomes like heading the wrong way down the (British motorway) M25 it is not the most comfortable feeling."
PUNCTURE FOR SCHUMI
Vettel is now only the third F1 driver to win three consecutive titles; the others are Argentine Juan Manuel Fangio and childhood idol Michael Schumacher (seventh for Mercedes in his last career race on Sunday).
After 21 years, seven drivers' championship triumphs and 91 victories, 43-year-old Schumacher recovered from an early puncture to score points from his final outing. "I think it's a nice ending," he said. "I'm finishing off and he's (Vettel) clinching his third title. I'm very proud of him."
Pole-starter Lewis Hamilton blasted Nico Hulkenberg after the Force India driver sent the former World champion crashing out of his final race for McLaren. Hulkenburg lost control as he attempted to squeeze into the lead on lap 55 of the 71-lap race and rammed Hamilton's leading McLaren.
"The dude didn't even come and say sorry," said Hamilton.