Twenty grands prix yielded eight race winners, but there can be only one champion, and for the third time in a row that champion is Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull Racing team.
The 2012 Formula One World Championship just wrapped up in Brazil, closing one of the most enthralling seasons in grand prix history. At the beginning of the season, no fewer than six world champions lined up on the grid for top-tier teams, setting a new record and the stage for what would go down in history as one of the most epic title fights in the history of the sport. Of course only one champion would emerge with the title, and it came down to the bitter end.
Ultimately it was Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull Racing who scored their third consecutive world championship, making Vettel F1's youngest triple champion ever - a record held until now by the late, great Ayrton Senna. As the season wound to its close, two double champions emerged at the front of the field: Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel. With the constructos' title already decided, Vettel held the lead in the drivers' standings going into the season-closing Brazilian Grand Prix, but Alonso was still in the running. In order to win, however, Alonso would have needed to win that last race with Vettel finishing no better than fourth.
Once the grid was sorted out in qualifying, things didn't look good for Alonso, who placed eighth, as Vettel placed fourth. Wet conditions and some technical setbacks put Sebastian at the back of the field and Alonso in good position, but ultimately the Red Bull driver finished the race in sixth place. Though Alonso finished in second, just behind race winner Jenson Button's McLaren, it wasn't enough to keep Vettel from holding on to his championship. In the end Vettel scored 281 points over the course of the season to Alonso's 278. Kimi Raikkonen, returning to F1 after a years-long hiatus, impressively finished third in the standings with 207 points.
Lewis Hamilton finished with 190, Jenson Button with 188 and Mark Webber with 179. Michael Schumacher scored only 49 points, finishing his last season in F1 in thirteenth place with 49 points and only one podium finish to show for it. The seven-time world champion is going back into retirement, with Hamilton switching from McLaren to take Schumacher's seat at Mercedes next season. That will leave one less world champion on the grid when next season kicks off with the Australian Grand Prix on March 17, 2013, but it promises to be no less epic a battle as Vettel and Red Bull fight to keep their crown and the others race to take it away.