Pit Stop – Season Finale – By Lewis Brearley

This weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix will be a historic affair even if Sebastian Vettel doesn’t win and equal both Michael Schumacher’s season win record of 13 and the nine race long consecutive win streak set by Alberto Ascari.

Not only is it the final race of 2013, it is also the final race with the current aerodynamic regulations, the last hurrah for the glorious V8 engines Formula One has used since 2006, Mark Webber’s final grand prix before he moves to the World Endurance Championship and Felipe Massa’s last race in his storied time at Ferrari.

A Webber win with Felipe Massa on the podium would therefore be a perfect way for the 2013 season to sign off. The likelihood of such is low however with Vettel having such a strong advantage over Webber and Ferrari being far off the pace set by both Red Bull, Lotus and Mercedes.

No driver has ever won their retirement grand prix and Webber has probably the best chance anyone has ever had to do so and the Aussie is always at his best at the classic racetracks like Interlagos. So for a full Webber appraisal it would be wise to wait until after his 217th grand prix.

While watching this weekend’s Formula One, take a moment to admire the machinery. The current cars with their exhaust blown diffuser technology mastered so brilliantly by Adrian Newey and his Red Bull team have been evolving ever since the regulations were altered in 2009.

The five seasons with the rules have been dominated by Red Bull and their lead driver, Sebastian Vettel who has managed to harness the technology to levels beyond any if his rivals. It has brought him four straight championships and 37 of his 38 career wins – one being before the 2009 changes.

The era of the V8 is longer. The rasping roar of these engines has provided the background noise for eight seasons and will be given a fond farewell at the atmospheric racetrack in the middle of Sao Paulo.

Fernando Alonso took the first win in the V8 era with a Renault engine and with Red Bull so strong and Lotus second best, Renault is very likely to bookend the era with another win.

With this history in mind, the race between the two Red Bulls and the battle for second in the constructors’ championship could be gripping.

While Lotus have the best race car at the moment, Mercedes have a 33 point advantage over the Enstone team. With Ferrari dead in the middle and on a weak run of form, Lotus could nick third from the mighty Scuderia, which for a team having financial difficulties would be a huge boost.

Tune in this weekend, it won’t be “just another Vettel win.”

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