MARK WEBBER finally got on the score sheet with victory at the last race of the season in Brazil.
It was the Australian’s first triumph since the Hungarian Grand Prix in August 2010, 26 races ago.
The 35-year-old, who has lived in Sebastian Vettel’s shadow all year, finally got his day in the sun.
Webber inherited the lead on lap 30 as the German’s increasing gearbox problems forced him to surrender the spot at the front.
Although there were dark rumblings in some sections of the paddock that it was an orchestrated gift to the Australian from a grateful team that was very far wide of the truth.
“It’s a great feeling to end the season this way,” said Webber.
“With 10 laps to go I thought to myself ‘it’s nice to finish the year with a win and my second win here in Brazil, it’s always been nice to me’.
“It’s been a pretty good year but not like 2010.”
And to add the icing to the cake he slammed in three successive fastest laps as he flashed towards the finish line.
“I dedicate this race to Bob Woods who is a very ill man,” added Webber.
Vettel hung onto second and Jenson Button grabbed third off Fernando Alonso nine laps from the finish to collar runners-up spot in the driver’s championship.
Vettel told his team on the radio that he felt like Ayrton Senna in 1991, who won the race with barely any of his gears left.
The Frome Flier bought the final laps of the race alive as he forged past Alonso to reclaim the position he’d lost early in the race and then charged off in pursuit of the world champion and his ailing car.
But an 11 second deficit with just eight laps left proved a little too much for him, even in this form.
“I struggled on the tyres, the degradation was a bit of a shock.
“Fernando got me when I picked the wrong line and found myself heading onto the rubber from Michael Schumacher’s debris so I had slow and lose the position. He got it rather easily.”
It was a sad but predictable ending to a difficult season for Lewis Hamilton when his gearbox synchro system started to falter and finally failed on lap 48 as he scrapped arch rival Felipe Massa for fifth.
“It's been an interesting year,” said Hamilton.
“Today, I gave it my all. I enjoyed the race and it's a little bit unfortunate that we weren't able to get extra points.
“I was challenging Felipe [Massa] at the end and was hoping I could get him but the gearbox didn't last.
“It's been a long, long year and I'm looking forward to a little bit of downtime with family and friends. There is a lot to improve on but I feel it's all positive even though we didn't have a great result today."
“Apologies to the team for any mishaps that have occurred and know that I will be strong next year.”
The Brazilian completed his year of misery by failing to finish on the podium again in fifth.
The Ferrari number two has not finished in the top three once this year.”
The rain that threatened since Friday evening failed to materialise and fans were treated to a fairly mundane fare by Interlagos’ standards.
Button’s third place and his eighth podium in nine races put him 12 points clear of Webber who snatched third in the driver’s championship by a single point from Fernando Alonso.