Brazil Roundup - the championship goes to the wire
Interlagos - the venue of coronations of the last five driver world champions, but it wasn't to be this year though with the points table relentlessly undecided on the final order.
Before going into the championship battle I've got to mention a young German upstart, Nico Hulkenberg. Against all odds the rookie clinched pole position and equally unbelievable was the margin by which he did it - 1.049 seconds. Terrific. Williams want their heads looking at if they're seriously considering dropping him for next year.
Anyhow, the race. It wasn't a bad one in my opinion - plenty of midfield overtaking and general jostling, a bone-headed moment resulting in a safety car period with the usual chaos that they bring, oh and an interesting inter-team Red Bull dynamic brewing for Abu Dhabi. Good stuff.
At the start Nico got away far better than I (and many others) had tipped him to. However his lead was always going to be short and unfortunately it barely lasted through one corner as Vettel forced his way past, and Webber did the same three turns later. However he did make it harder for the other guys though with some good defensive driving. Alonso broke through on lap six, but Hamilton couldn't match him and gave up on lap thirteen when he pitted.
And speaking of Hamilton, what a disaster. He's been barely a shadow of himself in the last... well since Italy! Silly mistakes on the first lap in Monza, a botched overtaking manoeuvre in Singapore, a big smash during practice compromising his weekend in Japan, and succumbing to the pressure of Fernando Alonso in both Korea and here in Brazil. Poor show.
But what I strongly dislike are his ream upon ream of excuses for his poor performances. This weekend apparently the car was "nowhere", it didn't feel like the f-duct was working, no grip… blah… blah… The facts are; 1) he set the fastest lap of the race. 2) he was pretty much on a par with Alonso's pace once he got out from under Hulkenberg's rear wing. 3) do I need a number three? It's a dreadful run of form - the worst of his career? - and he cannot keep blaming the car. It drives me nuts!
Phew. With that off my chest perhaps I can get on to the situation brewing at the sharp end.
From the first words filtering through the interwebs on Thursday it was apparent Webber isn't fighting for the championship, he's still fighting his teammate. Honestly I don't think Alonso was particularly on his radar this weekend at all. And unfortunately for him Vettel took the chequered flag without any sniff of faltering.
That said, I'm also tired of all of the Vettel bashing going on. Yes he's had his moments *cough* Turkey and Belgium *cough*, but how many times has he been in a dominating position - often all weekend - only to be let down by some mechanical gremlin within touching distance of the finish? In my view he is the guy that probably deserves this championship crown based on overall performance.
Everyone has had their brain-fade moments. Vettel's being petulant overtaking mistakes in Turkey, Belgium and the stupid safety car violation in Hungary. Webber's, not leaving enough room with Kovalainen in Valencia, smashing into Hamilton in Australia, and white-lining it in Korea. And finally Alonso's unforced rendezvous with the barrier in Belgium and Monaco, and taking shortcuts in Great Britain.
So where am I going with this (god knows!).
Abu Dhabi the final round in less than a week, so who's going to do the business and get the job done?
It might seem odd but I think the chap I wrote off a few paragraphs back will be the deciding factor, well him and his teammate collectively.
It isn't pushing the realms of possibility that Red Bull continue their pace advantage, and Vettel continuing to have the upper hand over the Aussie chap, so say they're in position to take the finish in that order.
Now if Alonso is behind them in third, Vettel has to relinquish the lead to Webber, otherwise Alonso takes the crown. Which would result in Webber becoming champion.
Who is most likely to get between the Ferrari and Red Bulls? The McLarens (OK definitely Hamilton, then pick one of Button, Kubica or Rosberg). I mean; they weren't too shabby in Abu Dhabi last year, and their car isn't exactly as bad as their drivers make out it is.
And if LH + A.N. Other were keep Alonso out, there's no need for any simulated engine splutterings from the RB6, Vettel is top dog.
On that basis (and a smidgen of personal bias) my favourite for the title is Webber, then Alonso, then Vettel.
Webber needs a Red Bull 1-2, and if Alonso's third or fourth Vettel will switch.
Alonso needs to beat one of the Red Bulls to keep it under his own control.
Vettel needs a Red Bull 1-2 in his favour, and two other drivers to finish in front of Alonso.
Hamilton, as he said himself needs "a miracle".
See you on the other side :)
|1||S Vettel||Red Bull||1:33:11.803|
|2||M Webber||Red Bull||+4.2 secs|
|3||F Alonso||Ferrari||+6.8 secs|
|4||L Hamilton||McLaren||+14.6 secs|
|5||J Button||McLaren||+15.5 secs|
|6||N Rosberg||Mercedes||+35.3 secs|
|7||M Schumacher||Mercedes||+43.4 secs|
|8||N Hulkenberg||Williams||+1 Lap|
|9||R Kubica||Renault||+1 Lap|
|10||K Kobayashi||BMW Sauber||+1 Lap|
|11||J Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||+1 Lap|
|12||A Sutil||Force India||+1 Lap|
|13||S Buemi||Toro Rosso||+1 Lap|
|14||R Barrichello||Williams||+1 Lap|
|15||F Massa||Ferrari||+1 Lap|
|16||V Petrov||Renault||+1 Lap|
|17||N Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+1 Lap|
|18||H Kovalainen||Lotus||+2 Laps|
|19||J Trulli||Lotus||+2 Laps|
|20||T Glock||Virgin||+2 Laps|
|21||B Senna||HRT||+2 Laps|
|22||C Klien||HRT||+6 Laps|
|23||L Di Grassi||Virgin||+9 Laps|
|DNF||V Liuzzi||Force India||+22 Laps|
|1||M Webber||Red Bull||1:32:23.081|
|2||R Kubica||BMW Sauber||+7.6 secs|
|3||L Hamilton||McLaren||+18.9 secs|
|4||S Vettel||Red Bull||+19.6 secs|
|6||K Raikkonen||Ferrari||+33.3 secs|
|7||S Buemi||Toro Rosso||+35.9 secs|
|8||R Barrichello||Brawn||+45.4 secs|
|9||K Kobayashi||Toyota||+63.3 secs|
|10||G Fisichella||Ferrari||+70.6 secs|
|11||V Liuzzi||Force India||+71.3 secs|
|12||H Kovalainen||McLaren||+73.4 secs|
|13||R Grosjean||Renault||+1 Lap|
|14||J Alguersuari||Toro Rosso||+1 Lap|
|DNF||K Nakajima||Williams||+41 Laps|
|DNF||N Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+50 Laps|
|DNF||N Rosberg||Williams||+44 Laps|
|DNF||A Sutil||Force India||+71 Laps|
|DNF||J Trulli||Toyota||+71 Laps|
|DNF||F Alonso||Renault||+71 Laps|
|2||F Alonso||Renault||+13.2 secs|
|3||K Raikkonen||Ferrari||+16.2 secs|
|4||S Vettel||Toro Rosso||+38.0 secs|
|5||L Hamilton||McLaren||+38.9 secs|
|6||T Glock||Toyota||+44.3 secs|
|7||H Kovalainen||McLaren||+55.0 secs|
|8||J Trulli||Toyota||+68.4 secs|
|9||M Webber||Red Bull||+79.6 secs|
|10||N Heidfeld||BMW Sauber||+1 Lap|
|11||R Kubica||BMW Sauber||+1 Lap|
|12||N Rosberg||Williams||+1 Lap|
|13||J Button||Honda||+1 Lap|
|14||S Bourdais||Toro Rosso||+1 Lap|
|15||R Barrichello||Honda||+1 Lap|
|16||A Sutil||Force India||+2 Laps|
|17||K Nakajima||Williams||+2 Laps|
|18||G Fisichella||Force India||+2 Laps|
|DNF||N Piquet Jnr||Renault||+71 Laps|
|DNF||D Coulthard||Red Bull||+71 Laps|