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 2 September 2014

  2. Honda open to customer teams from 2016 07:12

    Honda open to customer teams from 2016

    Honda says it would be open to supplying customer teams in Formula 1 from the 2016 campaign, having clarified that its power...

    F1
  3. Monza memories: Closest Formula 1 finish 05:07

    Monza memories: Closest Formula 1 finish

    Relive the closest finish in Formula 1 history at the 1971 Italian Grand Prix. Peter Gethin took the chequered flag first,...

    F1
  4. Monday 1 September 2014

  5. Video: Ronaldo, Button go for a spin 18:57

    Video: Ronaldo, Button go for a spin

    Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo went for a spin with McLaren driver Jenson Button at the Circuito del Jarama on...

    F1
  6. I won't give up in title fight, Hamilton vows 18:04

    I won't give up in title fight, Hamilton vows

    Lewis Hamilton insists that he will not give up in his quest for the 2014 Formula 1 title, as he looks to cut Mercedes...

    F1
  7. Van der Garde gets another FP1 outing 16:00

    Van der Garde gets another FP1 outing

    Sauber reserve Giedo van der Garde will get his seventh practice outing of 2014 at the Italian Grand Prix. The former...

    F1
  8. Honda can match Mercedes, Arai reaffirms 14:09

    Honda can match Mercedes, Arai reaffirms

    Honda's motorsport chief, Yasuhisa Arai, has reiterated his belief that the Japanese manufacturer will be able to match...

    F1
  9. Lotus drivers back Parabolica changes 13:42

    Lotus drivers back Parabolica changes

    Lotus duo Romain Grosjean and Pastor Maldonado have backed the decision to replace the gravel trap on the outside of Monza's...

    F1
  10. Ricciardo collects Lorenzo Bandini trophy 12:50

    Ricciardo collects Lorenzo Bandini trophy

    Daniel Ricciardo collected the Trofeo Lorenzo Bandini at a ceremony in Brisighella, Italy on Sunday. The trophy, awarded...

    F1
  11. 11:13

    Photos: 2014 VKV City Racing Rotterdam

    F1
  12. Álex Márquez seals Moto2 promotion 11:07

    Álex Márquez seals Moto2 promotion

    Álex Márquez, the younger brother of reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc, will step up to the Moto2 class with the Mark VDS R...

    MotoGP
  13. Force India duo confident over Monza chances 10:37

    Force India duo confident over Monza chances

    Force India drivers Nico Hülkenberg and Sergio Pérez are hopeful of putting together a more competitive showing at this w...

    F1
  14. Márquez had 'score to settle' after 2013 09:14

    Márquez had 'score to settle' after 2013

    Repsol Honda rider Marc Márquez says he had a "score to settle" with Jorge Lorenzo at this year's British Grand Prix, having...

    MotoGP
  15. Monza memories: Button caught out at restart 05:00

    Monza memories: Button caught out at restart

    Relive the drama as Jenson Button is caught out by a slow Safety Car restart at the 2000 Italian Grand Prix.

    F1
  16. Sunday 31 August 2014

  17. Aleshin's condition upgraded to stable 15:57

    Aleshin's condition upgraded to stable

    Mikhail Aleshin will remain in hospital but his condition has been upgraded to stable following his huge IndyCar practice...

    Indy
  18. Verstappen damages wing during Rotterdam run 15:42

    Verstappen damages wing during Rotterdam run

    Dutch youngster Max Verstappen has had a minor crash during his first public Formula 1 outing at the VKV City Racing event...

    F1
  19. Williams plans to retain Massa, Bottas – Smedley 14:31

    Williams plans to retain Massa, Bottas – Smedley

    Williams Head of Performance Engineering Rob Smedley says the team plans to retain current drivers Felipe Massa and Valtteri...

    F1
  20. 13:51

    Latest MotoGP photos: Sunday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  21. Márquez beats Lorenzo for 11th win of 2014 13:50

    Márquez beats Lorenzo for 11th win of 2014

    Marc Márquez came out on top in a battle with Jorge Lorenzo to claim his 11th victory of the season in the British Grand...

    MotoGP
  22. Lotterer open to more Caterham outings 11:49

    Lotterer open to more Caterham outings

    André Lotterer says he is open to more Formula 1 outings with Caterham, having made his debut in the sport with the team at...

    F1
  23. Gastaldi adamant Lotus can revive fortunes 10:09

    Gastaldi adamant Lotus can revive fortunes

    Deputy Team Principal Federico Gastaldi is adamant that there is 'plenty to look forward to' at Lotus, despite the squad...

    F1
  24. 06:00

    Latest IndyCar photos: Saturday at Fontana

    Indy
  25. Power finally captures title, Kanaan wins Fontana 05:54

    Power finally captures title, Kanaan wins Fontana

    Will Power's voice cracked audibly as he spoke to his team on the cool-down laps at Fontana on Saturday night.  Three times...

    Indy
  26. Video of the Day: Formula 1 in every Renault 05:00

    Video of the Day: Formula 1 in every Renault

    Renault drivers receive an unexpected, special welcome whilst arriving at a supermarket car park.

    F1
  27. Saturday 30 August 2014

  28. 18:24

    Latest MotoGP photos: Saturday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  29. Márquez beats Dovizioso to Silverstone pole 15:01

    Márquez beats Dovizioso to Silverstone pole

    MotoGP championship leader Marc Márquez claimed pole position for the British Grand Prix in cool and cloudy conditions...

    MotoGP
  30. Maldonado anticipating tough Monza weekend 13:18

    Maldonado anticipating tough Monza weekend

    Pastor Maldonado is anticipating a tough time for Lotus as Formula 1 heads to the high-speed Monza for next weekend's...

    F1
  31. 12:30

    Photos: Red Bull's 50 Formula 1 wins

    F1
  32. Márquez quickest despite fall at Silverstone 10:48

    Márquez quickest despite fall at Silverstone

    Marc Márquez set the fastest time during the third practice session for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone, before...

    MotoGP
  33. Aleshin in 'serious but stable' condition 10:09

    Aleshin in 'serious but stable' condition

    SMP Racing driver Mikhail Aleshin is in a 'serious but stable' condition following a violent accident during practice for...

    Indy
  34. Video of the Day: Singapore winner's trophy 05:00

    Video of the Day: Singapore winner's trophy

    View the winner's trophy for this year's Singapore Grand Prix, inspired by the Singapore Airlines logo.

    F1
  35. Aleshin airlifted to hospital after violent crash 04:50

    Aleshin airlifted to hospital after violent crash

    Russian rookie Mikhail Aleshin has been airlifted to Loma Linda University Medical Center in California after a violent...

    Indy
  36. Friday 29 August 2014

  37. Castroneves chips into points lead with Fontana pole 23:57

    Castroneves chips into points lead with Fontana pole

    Helio Castroneves picked up his second pole position of 2014 at the most crucial time possible: On the eve of the...

    Indy
  38. 23:57

    Latest IndyCar photos: Friday at Fontana

    Indy
  39. IndyCar to lose Houston, switch Toronto for Mosport 20:17

    IndyCar to lose Houston, switch Toronto for Mosport

    IndyCar confirmed today that the Houston street course would not be a part of the 2015 schedule.   Twice a sight of...

    Indy
  40. Season finale preview: Power heads three-man fight 19:51

    Season finale preview: Power heads three-man fight

    The MAVTV 500 at Fontana will be the ninth consecutive time that the last race of the year will determine the champion, and...

    Indy
  41. 16:00

    Latest MotoGP photos: Friday at Silverstone

    MotoGP
  42. Márquez stays fastest in second practice 15:26

    Márquez stays fastest in second practice

    Repsol Honda's Marc Márquez remained in charge during Friday afternoon's second practice session for the British Grand...

    MotoGP
  43. Mercedes drivers react to crunch talks 14:53

    Mercedes drivers react to crunch talks

    Mercedes drivers Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton have publicly responded to the clear-the-air talks staged at the team's...

    F1
  44. Ex-Caterham staff start legal action 14:26

    Ex-Caterham staff start legal action

    Ex-Caterham staff have started legal action against the F1 team's new owners, claiming unfair dismissal. Having...

    F1
  45. Video: Verstappen drives F1 car in Rotterdam 14:04

    Video: Verstappen drives F1 car in Rotterdam

    Max Verstappen made his first public outing in Formula 1 machinery on Friday, the 16-year-old getting behind the wheel of a...

    F1
more news