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Webber wraps up 2011 with a popular win

NEWS STORY
27/11/2011

In the hours leading up to today's race there have been conflicting views as to whether we are in for a wet or dry race.

It started out bright and sunny, then clouded over, brightened again and then clouded over. Clearly, the weather gods are having fun.

Of course, whether its wet or dry, certain drivers won't be too bothered, among them pole-man Sebastian Vettel and Jenson Button, indeed, the Englishman would no doubt prefer mixed conditions.

While the world championship are decided there is still much to play for. OK, in the eyes of many finishing runner-up doesn't mean much to drivers, who, from the day they first climb into a kart, are amongst the most competitive people on earth.

However, with his teammate having totally dominated the season, surely Mark Webber would like to go into the holiday season why finishing second in the championship, and what better way than by taking his first win of the season.

Then again, as his annus horribilis draws to an end, Lewis Hamilton cannot overhaul his teammate, but Fernando Alonso could, the Spaniard keen to finish second to Vettel in a car that is some way of the pace of both the Red Bull and McLaren.

Other than those drivers keen to retain their current seats for 2012, or at least find an alternative berth, there is the battle for the lower placings in the constructors' Championship, and let's not forget it is this that decides who gets how much prize money.

While it would require a Herculean effort from Force India to find the 16 points to overhaul Renault - the Silverstone outfit never having scored more than 12 this season - only one point separates Sauber and Toro Rosso in the fight for seventh.

Of the (second year newbies) Lotus will be looking to hang on to tenth, which is thought to be worth 25m ($16.1m).

Tyre options for this afternoon are soft (option) and medium (prime), the difference between them around 0.8 to 1s a lap, with most teams expecting two stops. Assuming it's a dry race.

As in Abu Dhabi, there are fears the (sole) DRS zone is in the wrong place. With the detection zone in the middle of the Senna S (Turn 2) it's feared that we might not see as much overtaking in the first corner as we're used to as drivers will fear losing back the position once they hit the activation zone which runs the course of the back straight from Turn 3 to Turn 4.

Forty-five minutes before 'showtime', after an hour of sunshine, the sky suddenly darkens and a few spots of rain begin to fall. Nothing serious, but the dark clouds all around look ominous.

Not only is this the last race of a long and tiring season, this could be the last time we get to see a number of the participants, certainly in terms of F1. One such person is Rubens Barrichello, the Brazilian increasingly looking as though this is his swansong. That said, his performance in Q2 yesterday was epic.

Jaime Alguersuari, Sebastien Buemi, Tonio Liuzzi and Jerome d'Ambrosio all look doubtful for next year, while Bruno Senna, Pastor Maldonado, Daniel Ricciardo and Adrian Sutil have yet to confirm their plans.

When the pitlane opens the sky has brightened just a little, however, Ferrari tweets that the nearest shower is now 4km away and heading our way.

While the sun breaks through, Mike Gascoyne tweets that rain is expected in five minutes. However, Renault's Alan Permane says he is expecting one short shower that won't amount to much. Moments later, despite needing an umbrella to shield him from the sun, Vettel says that there is rain on the way.

Jonathan Neale says he is expecting rain at some stage this afternoon, admitting that his team would love that to be the case.

As the field heads off on the warm-up lap, the air temperature is 25 degrees C, while the track temperature is 46 degrees. Humidity is 58%.

The leading nine cars are on softs, as used in Q3, Schumacher, who did not post a time, is also on the yellow banded rubber. Indeed, it looks like everyone is on softs.

They're away, Vettel holding his lead into the first corner. Button makes a charge on Webber but the Australian holds him off. No incidents. Good starts from Massa, Petrov and Kovalainen but a bad start for Barrichello who slips back to eighteenth.

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