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. Friday 25 July 2014

  2. Ferrari on the 'right road' – Alonso 18:07

    Ferrari on the 'right road' – Alonso

    Fernando Alonso is sure that Ferrari is on the 'right road' following Friday's free practice sessions for the Hungarian...

    F1
  3. Button eyeing improved low fuel balance 17:29

    Button eyeing improved low fuel balance

    Jenson Button says he is searching for better balance on low fuel runs after the opening day of practice for the Hungarian...

    F1
  4. Ricciardo: Mercedes quicker than we hoped 16:41

    Ricciardo: Mercedes quicker than we hoped

    Daniel Ricciardo has admitted that Mercedes is proving to be quicker than Red Bull had anticipated at the Hungarian Grand...

    F1
  5. 16:26

    Latest F1 photos: Friday at Hungaroring

    F1
  6. Williams duo expecting tougher weekend 16:25

    Williams duo expecting tougher weekend

    Williams drivers Valtteri Bottas and Felipe Massa say they are expecting to face a more difficult weekend at the Hungarian...

    F1
  7. No single cause of Hamilton brake failure 16:03

    No single cause of Hamilton brake failure

    Mercedes and brake disc supplier Brembo have said that there might not be a sole reason behind Lewis Hamilton's dramatic...

    F1
  8. 15:40

    Latest GP2 photos: Friday at Hungaroring

    GP2
  9. Nasr storms to pole for Hungary opener 15:39

    Nasr storms to pole for Hungary opener

    Carlin driver Felipe Nasr claimed pole position for Saturday's GP2 Feature Race at the Hungaroring. The Brazilian moved...

    GP2
  10. Mercedes drivers left with contrasting views 15:04

    Mercedes drivers left with contrasting views

    Mercedes drivers Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg were left with contrasting views after the opening day of practice in...

    F1
  11. 14:37

    Hungarian GP: Full Free Practice 2 results

    F1
  12. Hamilton stays ahead in second practice 14:31

    Hamilton stays ahead in second practice

    Lewis Hamilton stayed on top during second practice for the Hungarian Grand Prix, recording a best time of 1:24.482 on the...

    F1
  13. 12:50

    Follow second practice for the Hungarian GP!

    F1
  14. Azerbaijan to stage Grand Prix from 2016 10:45

    Azerbaijan to stage Grand Prix from 2016

    Azerbaijan has confirmed that it will stage the European Grand Prix from the 2016 campaign. There were plans for the Baku...

    F1
  15. 10:43

    Hungarian GP: Full Free Practice 1 results

    F1
  16. Hamilton fastest in first Hungaroring practice 10:32

    Hamilton fastest in first Hungaroring practice

    Lewis Hamilton set the standard as the Hungarian Grand Prix weekend got underway on Friday morning. The Mercedes driver...

    F1
  17. Hamilton 'not worried' about Vettel rumours 10:06

    Hamilton 'not worried' about Vettel rumours

    Lewis Hamilton says he is unconcerned about claims that Mercedes is trying to sign Sebastian Vettel. Ahead of the...

    F1
  18. Camier to stand in for recovering Hayden 09:36

    Camier to stand in for recovering Hayden

    Leon Camier will replace Nicky Hayden at Aspar for the next two races as the latter recovers from surgery. Hayden has...

    MotoGP
  19. 09:00

    Follow first practice for the Hungarian GP!

    F1
  20. Video of the Day: Hamilton's Hungaroring guide 05:00

    Video of the Day: Hamilton's Hungaroring guide

    Join Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton for a lap of the Hungaroring.

    F1
  21. Thursday 24 July 2014

  22. Video: Mexico outlines planned track changes 22:49

    Video: Mexico outlines planned track changes

    Organisers of the returning Mexican Grand Prix highlight the modifications that will be required to the Autódromo Hermanos...

    F1
  23. Räikkönen: 2015 car will be more to my liking 17:16

    Räikkönen: 2015 car will be more to my liking

    Kimi Räikkönen is certain that next year's Ferrari design will be better-suited to his driving style. The former World C...

    F1
  24. Sutil shrugs off replacement rumours 16:39

    Sutil shrugs off replacement rumours

    Adrian Sutil has shunned rumours that Sauber is looking to replace him before the end of the season. It was suggested...

    F1
  25. Rossi joins Marussia as reserve driver 16:26

    Rossi joins Marussia as reserve driver

    Alexander Rossi has joined Marussia as its reserve driver for the remainder of the 2014 season. The 22-year-old American...

    F1
  26. 15:20

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday at Hungaroring

    F1
  27. Pérez '100 per cent sure' of Mexico return 14:49

    Pérez '100 per cent sure' of Mexico return

    Sergio Pérez says he has no doubts over Mexico's planned return to the Formula 1 calendar. At a special press conference...

    F1
  28. Video: Rosberg previews the Hungarian GP 13:30

    Video: Rosberg previews the Hungarian GP

    Mercedes driver and championship leader Nico Rosberg previews the Hungarian Grand Prix.

    F1
  29. Pirelli announces tyre choices until Singapore 13:10

    Pirelli announces tyre choices until Singapore

    Pirelli has announced its tyre compound choices for the Belgian, Italian and Singapore Grands Prix. At Spa-Francorchamps,...

    F1
  30. Marko: Mercedes, McLaren targeting Vettel 11:46

    Marko: Mercedes, McLaren targeting Vettel

    Red Bull advisor Helmut Marko claims that Mercedes and McLaren have targeted Sebastian Vettel. The reigning quadruple...

    F1
  31. Pérez gets grandstand for United States GP 10:06

    Pérez gets grandstand for United States GP

    A grandstand has been dedicated to Sergio Pérez fans for this year's United States Grand Prix. The Force India driver has...

    F1
  32. Video: Mansell, Berger battle in Mexico 09:14

    Video: Mansell, Berger battle in Mexico

    With news that the Mexican Grand Prix will return to the Formula 1 calendar next season, relive one of the standout battles...

    F1
  33. Horner: We will fight all the way to Abu Dhabi 07:00

    Horner: We will fight all the way to Abu Dhabi

    Red Bull Team Principal Christian Horner has insisted that the reigning World Champions will keep "fighting all the way to...

    F1
  34. Hungaroring memories: Räikkönen wins, 2005 05:00

    Hungaroring memories: Räikkönen wins, 2005

    Relive then McLaren driver Kimi Räikkönen's 2005 Hungarian Grand Prix victory.

    F1
  35. Wednesday 23 July 2014

  36. Official: Mexico confirmed for 2015 season 22:14

    Official: Mexico confirmed for 2015 season

    During a press conference in the country on Wednesday, organisers of a new race officially announced that Mexico will return...

    F1
  37. Video: Ferrari looks ahead to Hungary 18:05

    Video: Ferrari looks ahead to Hungary

    Ferrari Technical Director James Allison looks ahead to this weekend’s Hungarian Grand Prix.

    F1
  38. Lotus already well into design of 2015 car 17:22

    Lotus already well into design of 2015 car

    Lotus Technical Director Nick Chester has confirmed the Enstone team is already "well into the design of next year's car"...

    F1
  39. FIA confirms minor changes at Hungaroring 16:05

    FIA confirms minor changes at Hungaroring

    The Hungaroring has been tweaked ahead of this weekend's Hungarian Grand Prix. The alterations see new debris fencing...

    F1
  40. Pirro named driver steward for Hungary 15:25

    Pirro named driver steward for Hungary

    Emanuele Pirro will be the FIA driver steward at the Hungarian Grand Prix this weekend, carrying out the task for the eighth...

    F1
  41. Toto Wolff injured in cycling accident 14:24

    Toto Wolff injured in cycling accident

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff has suffered a fractured shoulder, collar bone, elbow and wrist ahead of this weekend's Hungarian...

    F1
  42. Mallya: More podiums possible for Force India 14:05

    Mallya: More podiums possible for Force India

    Force India boss Vijay Mallya is confident his team will be able to get more podium finishes this season. Sergio Pérez...

    F1
  43. Video: Force India drivers on Hungarian GP 13:30

    Video: Force India drivers on Hungarian GP

    Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez preview the 2014 Hungarian Grand Prix.

    F1
more news