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. Thursday 28 May 2015

  2. 15:12

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  3. Video: Drivers preview 'Dual in Detroit' 14:44

    Video: Drivers preview 'Dual in Detroit'

    Hélio Castroneves, Scott Dixon and Simon Pagenaud preview the 2015 'Dual in Detroit'.

    Indy
  4. Todt: No ban on alcohol sponsorship 12:36

    Todt: No ban on alcohol sponsorship

    FIA President Jean Todt has made clear that there will be no ban on alcohol sponsorship in Formula 1, describing such a move as…

    F1
  5. Jos Verstappen to join Max in F1 demo 11:24

    Jos Verstappen to join Max in F1 demo

    Max Verstappen will be joined on track by father Jos during next month's 'Italia a Zandvoort' event. While Max demonstrates a…

    F1
  6. Räikkönen given qualifying 'homework' 10:33

    Räikkönen given qualifying 'homework'

    Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene has urged Kimi Räikkönen to improve his qualifying performances at future Grands Prix…

    F1
  7. González, Vautier get Detroit seats 09:51

    González, Vautier get Detroit seats

    Rodolfo González and Tristan Vautier will reclaim seats at the Dale Coyne Racing squad for this weekend's IndyCar double-header…

    Indy
  8. Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Monaco 09:48

    Mark Sutton: Story Behind the Shot - Monaco

    Especially for lovers of motorsport photography, GPUpdate.net's race-by-race series, Story Behind the Shot, continues throughout…

    F1
  9. Magnussen: Vandoorne deserves F1 seat 09:07

    Magnussen: Vandoorne deserves F1 seat

    McLaren reserve Kevin Magnussen says there would be "something wrong" if GP2 championship leader Stoffel Vandoorne does not…

    F1
  10. Video of the Day: Brundle's Force India drive 05:00

    Video of the Day: Brundle's Force India drive

    Ex-F1 driver turned TV pundit Martin Brundle tests – and crashes – the Force India VJM08 at Silverstone.

    F1
  11. Wednesday 27 May 2015

  12. Hinchcliffe released from hospital 16:48

    Hinchcliffe released from hospital

    James Hinchcliffe was released from hospital on Tuesday, following surgery for the injuries he sustained during practice for the…

    Indy
  13. Wilson to make FE debut in Moscow 15:33

    Wilson to make FE debut in Moscow

    Justin Wilson will make his Formula E debut with Andretti Autosport at next month's Moscow round. Wilson competed in last…

    FE
  14. Grosjean 'didn't brake test' Verstappen 14:39

    Grosjean 'didn't brake test' Verstappen

    Lotus says it has data to prove that Romain Grosjean did not brake test Toro Rosso rival Max Verstappen prior to their collision…

    F1
  15. Video: Nico Rosberg's Monaco blog 14:16

    Video: Nico Rosberg's Monaco blog

    Nico Rosberg reflects on a dramatic Monaco Grand Prix that yielded his third straight win in the principality.

    F1
  16. Mallya targets constant points with new car 12:28

    Mallya targets constant points with new car

    Force India team boss Vijay Mallya has set his sights on recording constant points finishes when the outfit's full 2015…

    F1
  17. Verstappen vows to come back stronger 10:51

    Verstappen vows to come back stronger

    Toro Rosso rookie Max Verstappen says he will emerge a stronger driver from his dramatic accident at last weekend's Monaco Grand…

    F1
  18. Rossi in 'perfect' place for Mugello 10:35

    Rossi in 'perfect' place for Mugello

    MotoGP championship leader Valentino Rossi says he arrives at Mugello in a "perfect" frame of mind after his strong start to the…

    MotoGP
  19. 10:15

    Gallery: Best photos from the Monaco GP

    F1
  20. Häkkinen: Verstappen penalty unfair 10:12

    Häkkinen: Verstappen penalty unfair

    Mika Häkkinen believes that it was wrong of the stewards to hand Max Verstappen a grid penalty for his clash with Romain…

    F1
  21. Ecclestone: Rosberg, Vettel 'bad for business' 09:43

    Ecclestone: Rosberg, Vettel 'bad for business'

    Formula 1 supremo Bernie Ecclestone has said that German drivers Nico Rosberg and Sebastian Vettel are "not so good" for the…

    F1
  22. Feature: Monaco GP's key questions 09:27

    Feature: Monaco GP's key questions

    In the build up to last weekend's Monaco Grand Prix, GPUpdate.net posed five key questions and contemplated the potential…

    F1
  23. Video of the Day: Berlin ePrix highlights 05:00

    Video of the Day: Berlin ePrix highlights

    Watch highlights from the eighth round of the Formula E championship at Berlin's Tempelhof Airport.

    FE
  24. Tuesday 26 May 2015

  25. Scan reveals further Iannone injury 19:11

    Scan reveals further Iannone injury

    Ducati's Andrea Iannone has had another set back ahead of his home race in Italy this weekend after a scan revealed a further…

    MotoGP
  26. Daly to replace Hinchcliffe for Detroit 14:18

    Daly to replace Hinchcliffe for Detroit

    Conor Daly will remain in IndyCar after Schmidt Peterson Motorsports confirmed that he will replace the injured James…

    Indy
  27. Briatore: Alonso better off at McLaren 13:31

    Briatore: Alonso better off at McLaren

    Flavio Briatore says Fernando Alonso is better placed at McLaren compared to Ferrari, despite the Spaniard having failed to…

    F1
  28. No further action in de Villota accident 11:29

    No further action in de Villota accident

    Manor Grand Prix Racing will face no further action over the testing crash involving Maria de Villota following the conclusion…

    F1
  29. Williams cannot repeat Monaco - Smedley 11:08

    Williams cannot repeat Monaco - Smedley

    Williams Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley says the squad must examine where it went wrong at the Monaco Grand Prix in…

    F1
  30. Arrivabene: Ferrari outsmarted Mercedes 09:49

    Arrivabene: Ferrari outsmarted Mercedes

    Ferrari Team Principal Maurizio Arrivabene says the squad outsmarted Mercedes strategically in order to collect second position…

    F1
  31. Monaco Grand Prix: Winners and Losers 08:56

    Monaco Grand Prix: Winners and Losers

    Nico Rosberg took a third straight Monaco win as dominant Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton was skewered by an incorrect pit…

    F1
  32. Video of the Day: Red Bull's Energy Station 05:23

    Video of the Day: Red Bull's Energy Station

    Find out more about Red Bull's floating Energy Station, which it brought to the Monaco Grand Prix.

    F1
  33. Monday 25 May 2015

  34. Montoya: First Indy 500 win was easier 15:45

    Montoya: First Indy 500 win was easier

    Juan Pablo Montoya described his first Indianapolis 500 win as "easy" compared to his victory at the 99th running of the…

    Indy
  35. Video: Max drives Jos around Monaco 14:27

    Video: Max drives Jos around Monaco

    Watch as Max Verstappen takes father Jos for a lap of the Monaco Grand Prix circuit in a Renault Clio.

    F1
  36. Smith, Espargaró set for Suzuka 8 Hours 13:42

    Smith, Espargaró set for Suzuka 8 Hours

    MotoGP team-mates Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaró will form part of the rider line-up for the factory Yamaha team at this…

    MotoGP
  37. Rosberg still thought Hamilton would win 11:52

    Rosberg still thought Hamilton would win

    Nico Rosberg has explained that he still thought Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton would win the Monaco Grand Prix despite his…

    F1
  38. Massa hits out at 'dangerous' Verstappen 10:21

    Massa hits out at 'dangerous' Verstappen

    Williams driver Felipe Massa has criticised Max Verstappen following the Toro Rosso rookie's contact with Romain Grosjean, and…

    F1
  39. Kvyat buoyed by best Formula 1 finish 10:02

    Kvyat buoyed by best Formula 1 finish

    Red Bull driver Daniil Kvyat expressed his delight after securing the best result of his short Formula 1 career at the Monaco…

    F1
  40. Video: Ricciardo, Räikkönen make contact 09:42

    Video: Ricciardo, Räikkönen make contact

    Daniel Ricciardo barged past Kimi Räikkönen for fifth with this move late in the Monaco Grand Prix.

    F1
  41. Räikkönen expected Ricciardo penalty 09:36

    Räikkönen expected Ricciardo penalty

    Kimi Räikkönen says he expected Daniel Ricciardo to be penalised by the stewards after their clash in the closing stages of…

    F1
  42. Pérez: Force India maximising opportunities 08:34

    Pérez: Force India maximising opportunities

    Sergio Pérez says his Force India team is maximising its opportunities after he started and finished in seventh position at the…

    F1
  43. Video of the Day: Prost on Renault's F1 plans 05:27

    Video of the Day: Prost on Renault's F1 plans

    Renault ambassador Alain Prost discusses the French brand's future intentions regarding Formula 1.

    F1
more news