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The More Things Change, The More Things Stay The Same

FEATURE BY MAT COCH
18/12/2012

The more things change, the more things stay the same. After a gruelling season the Formula One world championship was decided in favour of Sebastian Vettel in an action packed Brazilian Grand Prix. Almost; Ferrari contacted the FIA seeking clarification over one of the German's overtakes.

The Red Bull driver, rumour had it, had passed Jean-Eric Vergne on the fourth lap of the race under yellow flags.

The opening few laps were filled with action in tricky conditions, and the first sequence of corners had been covered with yellow flags. These were lifted around the pit exit on lap four, though intrigue overruled the available television footage which exonerated Vettel.

It reminded one of the 2003 Brazilian Grand Prix. Held in difficult wet conditions the race was red flagged after Mark Webber crashed near the pit entry, before Fernando Alonso crashed his Renault at about the same point on the circuit, despite the section being covered by yellow flags. Alonso later described it as the heaviest accident of his career, under yellow flag conditions.

"I had seen the yellow flags and the sign 'SC' telling me that the safety car was coming out, but at that moment, there were yellow flags all around the circuit," he said at the time. "I couldn't avoid a tyre in the middle of the track.

"The impact was massive, and this is by far the worst accident of my career," he added. "My left knee was quite painful when I got out of the car, but it's nothing serious, so I can now enjoy my result."

Yet while Alonso ultimately drew the red flag which heralded Giancarlo Fisichella the (eventual) winner - not to mention confirming the Spaniard in third place - there were question marks over his actions during the race.

"Halfway through the race I saw Alonso overtake under the (yellow) flags," Jacques Villeneuve claimed. "I think that is the kind of driving that leads to big accidents."

Villeneuve was not alone in his criticism; in the aftermath a number of drivers were accused of passing rivals under yellow flags. Villeneuve was adamant about it, and the matter was not resolved for some weeks after.

Ultimately Alonso escaped penalty, and can perhaps thank Formula One Management abandoning early digital technology, which would have given a precise location of his Renault against his rivals coupled with his speed and position.

Instead Alonso crashed out of the race, which by the time the circus arrived in Imola had been won by both Kimi Raikkonen and Giancarlo Fisichella.

For or against Ferrari's decision to question the 2012 situation, the world championship ultimately fell to Sebastian Vettel. This writer has been especially critical of the Italian marque's decision to question the result, believing it an unsavoury end to a glorious season of racing.

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