Wednesday, November 21, 2012


I'm gonna have you for breakfast in Brazil!
The Formula One world championship couldn't ask for a more epic backdrop to the title decider than the sweeps and valleys of Interlagos. It has been a long season and a long time coming but here we are, a few more days until the battle gets under way and the championship gets decided. It has not been like this for a few years.

The championships were close and went down to the final race at Interlagos for a few seasons before. It was really close in 2007 and 2008. In 2007, Kimi Raikkonen won the championship by a point with teammates Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso tripping over each other the whole year. In 2008, Lewis Hamilton won by a point as well from Felipe Massa on the last corner of the last lap. That was a very intense final few seconds of my life!

The 2009 season was won at Interlagos by Jenson Button but that wasn't the final race. It was the penultimate race of the season as Abu Dhabi hosted their first race that year and were handed the final race of the season. Sebastian Vettel won the 2010 championship at the final race in Abu Dhabi and the 2011 championship in Japan with 4 races remaining. That made him the sport's youngest double world champion.

Will he become the sport's youngest triple world champion this weekend? That is a very interesting possibility. And the chances are high that will happen. The United States GP has only lost Alonso 3 points to Vettel and the fight is still open for both men to take the title.

Vettel has the obvious advantage. He is leading with 13 points, his car is still the fastest in qualifying and very strong on race pace, also it is difficult to break. Red Bull is the form team at Interlagos, having won this race for the last three years in a row. Alonso although not having the fastest car is very experienced, determined and able to do the almost impossible on track. It will take a very strong weekend though for him to beat Vettel.

Looking at the facts i.e. points, car, team and track, it would seem almost impossible for Alonso to beat Vettel. So it would look like a sure thing for Vettel to claim his third title in as many years. But Interlagos is no ordinary track. And the weather there is also not ordinary as we have seen before many times. The prediction for this weekend is in Alonso's favor, that is it will probably rain. How much and how heavy remains to be seen.

Rain, rain, come to play!
And the other thing that can really screw up Vettel's chances is the same thing that would or should bring him his third title and that is his alternator. Yes that dreaded little thing that cost Mark Webber the last race and has caused Vettel 2 DNFs so far in Monza and Valencia. Red Bull have indicated that they are worried about the last race as the alternator has failed 3 times so far from both old and new batches. Red Bull's technical chief Adrian Newey admits: 
"Reliability is a concern, it's unfortunately our third alternator failure this year which is a ticking time bomb. You never know when that one is going to strike. Renault haven't managed to find a proper solution to that one so that's a continual worry in the back of our minds as is the rest of the reliability. The cars are very complicated and keeping them going around is anything but guaranteed."
Not forgetting outside interference during race day as not only does Vettel and Alonso want to it but Hamilton wants to win at Interlagos as well, he has never won here despite winning his world title here. If the McLaren can get competitive again here then we're in for one hell of a race. And then there is Perez, Maldonado, Grosjean and of course Karthikeyan.

So, how will either men win it this Sunday? The permutations are not as complicated as in 2008.

Vettel will win the title if...
* He finishes in the top four
* He finishes fifth, sixth or seventh and Alonso is second or lower
* He finishes eighth or ninth and Alonso is third or lower
* He finishes 10th or lower and Alonso fails to make it onto the podium

Alonso will win the title if...
* He wins the race and Vettel is fifth or lower
* He finishes second and Vettel is eighth or lower
* He finishes third and Vettel is 10th or lower

Ok race fans, get your armchair comfy, load up on the chips and make sure your internet connections are not shared on race day. This will be the mother of all battles. May the best man win.

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