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Saturday 30 August 2014

The sporting moments that made 2012: Drive of a champion helps to beat adversity

DAVID KENNEDY

Published 30/12/2012 | 05:00

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You're Sebastian Vettel. It's D-day, the Brazilian Grand Prix, you're leading the championship by 13 points in the last race of the season and you're favourite to take the title. You're only 24 years old but you know the rules. Take no risks, stay out of trouble and win the championship at the slowest possible speed.

An annoying bloke called Fernando Alonso has been shadowing you for most of the season. He's like a bad cold you can't shake off. His machinery is inferior and he has the popular vote, probably because you're double world champion and everyone loves the underdog.

Accusing fingers have been wagging, suggesting you're not capable of winning from anywhere but the front, that you have the best car and anyway, couldn't anyone win in that machinery? There's no pleasing some people. What do you have to do to prove them wrong?

It all starts off according to the script. You qualify fourth, Alonso is a comfortable three places behind you. For the race, Alonso has been praying for rain, his wish is granted and that's when the tide starts to turn against you.

You get hit going into turn four on the opening lap. You're spun around and facing you is a barrage of cars coming at you to kill your title dream. You're as vulnerable as an ice cream in a hot oven. In a moment of inspiration, you steer the car backwards so you're not a sitting duck. You seem to biblically part the water of impending doom and one by one the oncoming traffic avoids you. You join the field in last place with a damaged car.

You come in for tyres but your normally slick pit crew give you the wrong ones for the conditions and you have to come in again. Your nightmares are like buses, they're coming in convoys.

But you never give up. Alonso will be world champion if you don't fight on. Focus, stay with the bigger picture.

Through the rain and the collision, the reverse driving, through the bad pit stops, the traffic, the damaged car, through the fog of the naysayers, you do it. You finish sixth in the hardest race of your life.

You take your place in the record books and you smile the smile of the righteous. You've silenced your critics. You're three times consecutive world champion.

Congratulations on a great day at the office.

Sunday Indo Sport

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