São Paulo: We could still be surprised yet…

São Paulo: We could still be surprised yet…

21 November 2012 – This is it, then. The last one of the year. Formula 1 2012 has seemed like two mini-seasons in one, hasn’t it? It began with more than your fair share of chaos and seven winners from as many races. It will end with either Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso being crowned a triple World Champion in Brazil.

The last time we had two drivers battling over a third crown was in the millennium year, when Michael Schumacher beat Mika Häkkinen on that emotional Suzuka weekend which had started with an earthquake. Such extremes are not expected at Interlagos, although a thunderstorm or two is more than possible and could really turn things around; that’s one of the reasons Christian Horner was not able to celebrate the constructors’ title in Austin on Sunday… he knows this could still go horribly wrong.

The first two men in F1 history to fight over a third title at the last race
In actual fact, this is the first time ever that an F1 season has reached its final race with two drivers vying for a third title. If it’s Vettel, he will have won his three at a trio of different locations. If it’s Alonso, all will have come at the same place. Whatever the outcome, one gets the sense that it will be won in dramatic fashion. Vettel could walk it, should he seal pole and not suffer any difficulties, but the consistent threat of rain is more than likely to spice things up at some point.

On paper, this should go to Vettel. All he needs to do is finish fourth and the honours are bagged, no matter what Alonso does. At the same time, Sebastian cannot afford to be overly cautious or become tangled up in somebody else’s accident; the moment with Narain Karthikeyan at Circuit of the Americas, immediately after which Lewis Hamilton stole the lead, demonstrated just how quickly things can change. Should Vettel knock off his front wing and have to pit, sinking to the back of the field, anything from fifth downwards is not good enough if Alonso wins; so while Vettel has the upper hand, he could jettison his various jokers and will be fully aware of it.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Vettel will pick up the title under the following circumstances:
- Finishing in the top four
- Finishing fifth, sixth or seventh if Alonso doesn’t win
- Finishing eighth or ninth if Alonso is third or lower
- If Alonso does not finish on the podium

Alonso is the new three-time World Champion if this happens:
- Winning with Vettel fifth or lower
- Finishing second with Vettel eighth or lower
- Finishing third with Vettel tenth or lower
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

With the exception of Valencia, Hamilton is not to blame for his early demise
The last race of a season is always a time for reflection. Kimi Räikkönen has done a brilliant job to be third in the standings but Hamilton sits 83 points off the lead. In theory, had Hamilton not retired from the lead in Singapore and Abu Dhabi which gifted ten extra points to Vettel, that gap would only be 23 points which means Lewis would still be in the running – and that’s not counting the silly pit-stop errors which cost him so dear at the first handful of races. Yes, you could also argue that Vettel lost out when he broke down in Valencia and at Monza, but my point is that McLaren have made more slip-ups than most and Hamilton’s speed has never been in doubt. Indeed, this weekend he could become the only man to reach Q3 qualifying at all 20 race weekends in 2012. It’s because of these frustrations that a fresh challenge is needed and that is exactly why Lewis is not annoyed to be giving away a fast car as he crosses over to Mercedes-Benz.

So, back to the championship duel. A week ago, I would have said that Vettel will wrap this up in fairly comfortable fashion. Now, it’s not so easy to decide even though he does hold that critical 13-point advantage; there could so easily be a problem which allows Alonso to take full advantage. Judging by recent events, Vettel will qualify at least some two or three positions ahead – perhaps even four or five. But that is assuming it will be dry, which is looking less and less likely as the event draws closer. There is also the Red Bull worry of reliability, which proved a downfall for Mark Webber thanks to yet another alternator failure in America.

Excited yet? You jolly well should be. Such a close encounter is what we all always wish for – unless you support Vettel or Alonso, of course - so place your bets and see if you’re able to sit back and relax. This is just the finish that F1 2012 deserved.

At a glance:
- Interlagos pole position sitters
- Interlagos Grand Prix winners

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The facts: Autodromo José Carlos Pace
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Juan Pablo Montoya holds the track record from 2004
Laps 71

Direction Anti-clockwise

Corners 15

Length 4.309 km / 2.677 mi

First championship race 1973

First winner Emerson Fittipaldi – Lotus-Ford

Lap record 1:11.473 / J.P. Montoya / Williams-BMW / 2004

Local start time 2pm (GMT -2)

Slick Pirelli tyre compounds
Hard (silver markings) & Medium (white markings)

DRS zone
Detection: Apex of Turn 2
Activation: Halfway through Turn 3 until end of back straight

FIA driver steward
Tom Kristensen

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Circuit changes for 2012
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
- New debris fences installed on both sides of track between Turns 3 and 4

- Kerb installed on the apex of Turn 15 (final corner)

- Tube inserts placed in tyre barrier on end of wall at pit entry
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Gregory Haines
GPUpdate.net Editor

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Tuesday 6 December 2016

  2. Red Bull/Aston Martin tie-up to continue 10:30

    Red Bull/Aston Martin tie-up to continue

    Red Bull has announced that its collaboration with British luxury sportscar manufacturer Aston Martin, centred on the design of…

    F1
  3. Mercedes considering Alonso for vacancy 10:00

    Mercedes considering Alonso for vacancy

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has admitted that the team is considering Fernando Alonso as Nico Rosberg's replacement, describing him…

    F1
  4. F1 penalties: Who topped 2016's charts? 09:02

    F1 penalties: Who topped 2016's charts?

    Formula 1 currently manages driving offences through reprimands and penalty points, held on individual Super Licences. But who…

    F1
  5. Marchionne: Ferrari has found 'solution' 07:32

    Marchionne: Ferrari has found 'solution'

    Ferrari now has a "solution" to return to the front of the Formula 1 grid, after its win-less 2016 campaign, according to brand…

    F1
  6. Video of the Day: Prema drivers on GP2 05:37

    Video of the Day: Prema drivers on GP2

    Prema team-mates Pierre Gasly and Antonio Giovinazzi reflect on finishing first and second in GP2.

    GP2
  7. Monday 5 December 2016

  8. 17:02

    New: Follow GPUpdate on Instagram!

    F1
  9. French GP comeback dedicated to Bianchi 15:58

    French GP comeback dedicated to Bianchi

    Organisers behind the returning French Grand Prix at Paul Ricard have dedicated the development to late Formula 1 driver Jules…

    F1
  10. Overview: History of the French Grand Prix 15:12

    Overview: History of the French Grand Prix

    It was announced earlier on Monday that the French Grand Prix will return at Paul Ricard from 2018. GPUpdate.net looks back at…

    F1
  11. French GP return at Paul Ricard confirmed 13:41

    French GP return at Paul Ricard confirmed

    Formula 1 will again feature the French Grand Prix on its calendar from the 2018 season, with a five-year deal to stage the…

    F1
  12. McLaren adamant Alonso will not leave 12:39

    McLaren adamant Alonso will not leave

    Fernando Alonso will not be leaving McLaren to replace the retiring Nico Rosberg at Mercedes for the 2017 season, according to…

    F1
  13. Wehrlein 'ready for the job' at Mercedes 10:32

    Wehrlein 'ready for the job' at Mercedes

    Pascal Wehrlein says he would feel "ready for the job" of replacing Nico Rosberg at Mercedes for the 2017 season, following the…

    F1
  14. Marko expects Red Bull 2017 challenge 10:02

    Marko expects Red Bull 2017 challenge

    Red Bull motorsport consultant Helmut Marko says he expects the team to be in a position to challenge Mercedes for both Drivers…

    F1
  15. Vettel quells Rosberg replacement talk 09:07

    Vettel quells Rosberg replacement talk

    Sebastian Vettel has downplayed speculation linking him to the Mercedes seat vacated by Nico Rosberg, stating that "it should be…

    F1
  16. Norris wins McLaren Formula 1 test run 08:43

    Norris wins McLaren Formula 1 test run

    Lando Norris will receive a Formula 1 test with McLaren after clinching the prestigious McLaren Autosport BRDC award at a…

    F1
  17. In photos: Where Hamilton lost the title 07:32

    In photos: Where Hamilton lost the title

    Nico Rosberg has been crowned a worthy World Champion, but with a narrow five-point margin over Mercedes team-mate Lewis…

    F1
  18. Video of the Day: Red Bull parallax highlights 05:20

    Video of the Day: Red Bull parallax highlights

    Red Bull presents its 2016 Formula 1 highlights in this parallax video, made entirely from still imagery.

    F1
  19. Sunday 4 December 2016

  20. Alonso samples Honda's RC213V at Motegi 16:14

    Alonso samples Honda's RC213V at Motegi

    McLaren driver Fernando Alonso completed laps on Repsol Honda's title-winning RC213V MotoGP bike during the Japanese…

    F1
  21. F1 urged to end corner-cutting 'subjectivity' 15:03

    F1 urged to end corner-cutting 'subjectivity'

    Formula 1 could end "subjectivity" over corner-cutting if circuits are modified to disadvantage drivers who run off track…

    F1
  22. Manor still has 'big strides' to make - Ryan 14:02

    Manor still has 'big strides' to make - Ryan

    Manor boss Dave Ryan says the outfit's improvement across the past year has been "incredible" but has cautioned that it still…

    F1
  23. Overview: A year with no reigning Champion 13:06

    Overview: A year with no reigning Champion

    For only the sixth time in history, the defending Formula 1 World Champion will not line-up on the grid, with Nico Rosberg…

    F1
  24. Hamilton only wants 'equal rights' in 2017 12:02

    Hamilton only wants 'equal rights' in 2017

    Lewis Hamilton says he is not fussed by who partners him at Mercedes next season, and that his only request is that he has…

    F1
  25. Video: Nico Rosberg title-winning montage 11:01

    Video: Nico Rosberg title-winning montage

    GPUpdate.net looks back at Nico Rosberg's title-winning year with some of Sutton Images' best shots.

    F1
  26. Lauda: Rosberg has left us 'under pressure' 10:30

    Lauda: Rosberg has left us 'under pressure'

    Mercedes non-executive Chairman Niki Lauda says he is disappointed by Nico Rosberg's decision to retire and, with hindsight…

    F1
  27. Zetsche lauds 'perfect' Mercedes hat-trick 09:46

    Zetsche lauds 'perfect' Mercedes hat-trick

    Dieter Zetsche, head of Mercedes' parent company Daimler, has hailed its Formula 1 team after securing the "perfect hat-trick…

    F1
  28. Video of the Day: Lorenzo opens museum 05:26

    Video of the Day: Lorenzo opens museum

    MotoGP star Jorge Lorenzo's opens his new museum, 'World Champions by 99', in Andorra.

    MotoGP
  29. Saturday 3 December 2016

  30. 18:34

    Gallery: Mercedes' Sindelfingen event

    F1
  31. Rosberg would have stayed if he lost title 14:46

    Rosberg would have stayed if he lost title

    World Champion Nico Rosberg says he would have stayed in Formula 1 for another season had he not beaten Mercedes team-mate Lewis…

    F1
  32. F1 paddock pays tribute to retiring Rosberg 13:06

    F1 paddock pays tribute to retiring Rosberg

    Formula 1 drivers, paddock members and the wider motorsport world have been paying tribute to Nico Rosberg, following his shock…

    F1
  33. 11:44

    Gallery: FIA Prize-Giving Gala in Vienna

    F1
  34. Hamilton: Rosberg retirement 'not a surprise' 10:32

    Hamilton: Rosberg retirement 'not a surprise'

    Lewis Hamilton says Nico Rosberg's decision to retire was "not a surprise", despite the newly-crowned World Champion stunning…

    F1
  35. Verstappen receives two FIA Gala awards 09:17

    Verstappen receives two FIA Gala awards

    Red Bull youngster Max Verstappen has been handed two awards at the FIA's Prize-Giving Gala, held at Vienna's Hofburg…

    F1
  36. Video: Rosberg collects Formula 1 trophy 09:13

    Video: Rosberg collects Formula 1 trophy

    The retiring Nico Rosberg receives his World Championship trophy during the FIA's annual Prize-Giving Gala.

    F1
  37. Rosberg crowned World Champion at Gala 09:08

    Rosberg crowned World Champion at Gala

    The retiring Nico Rosberg has been officially crowned as the 2016 Formula 1 World Champion during the FIA's annual Prize-Giving…

    F1
  38. In photos: Rosberg's final F1 race day 08:32

    In photos: Rosberg's final F1 race day

    Nico Rosberg announced on Friday that he will be retiring from Formula 1 as World Champion. GPUpdate.net flicks through…

    F1
  39. Video of the Day: Ferrari's 'Flying Aces' 05:28

    Video of the Day: Ferrari's 'Flying Aces'

    Ferrari drivers Sebastian Vettel and Kimi Räikkönen experienced the world's tallest loop rollercoaster at Ferrari World in Abu…

    F1
  40. Friday 2 December 2016

  41. Sato joins Andretti Autosport for 2017 20:05

    Sato joins Andretti Autosport for 2017

    Takuma Sato will make the switch to Andretti Autosport for 2017, completing the team's four-car line-up. Sato, 39, has raced…

    Indy
  42. Latifi on top as GP2 post-season test ends 17:56

    Latifi on top as GP2 post-season test ends

    DAMS driver Nicholas Latifi set the pace as GP2's end-of-season test reached its conclusion at Abu Dhabi's Yas Marina Circuit on…

    GP2
  43. Overview: Candidates to replace Rosberg 15:08

    Overview: Candidates to replace Rosberg

    Following the shock news that Nico Rosberg will retire from Formula 1 with immediate effect, GPUpdate.net looks at the potential…

    F1
  44. Video: Rosberg on his decision to retire 14:02

    Video: Rosberg on his decision to retire

    Nico Rosberg explains why he has decided to retire from Formula 1 after winning the world title.

    F1
  45. Mercedes will 'take time' over replacement 13:47

    Mercedes will 'take time' over replacement

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the manufacturer will "take time" in deciding who will replace Nico Rosberg, who has announced his…

    F1
more news