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 18 December 2014

  2. Video of the Day: Ferrari's Christmas lunch 05:09

    Video of the Day: Ferrari's Christmas lunch

    Ferrari recently hosted staff and representatives at its annual Gestione Sportiva Christmas Lunch.

    F1
  3. Wednesday 17 December 2014

  4. 15:48

    Book F1 tickets and join the action live!

    F1
  5. Ferrari tyre chief to leave at end of year 15:45

    Ferrari tyre chief to leave at end of year

    Ferrari tyre performance chief Hirohide Hamashima will leave the team at the end of the year, as the Scuderia continues to...

    F1
  6. Video: Carlos Sainz's title-winning season 13:49

    Video: Carlos Sainz's title-winning season

    Relive Carlos Sainz Jr.'s journey to the 2014 Formula Renault 3.5 title. Next year, the Spaniard graduates to Formula 1 with...

    FR 3.5
  7. Watson takes on expanded Toro Rosso role 12:07

    Watson takes on expanded Toro Rosso role

    Newly-appointed Toro Rosso Team Manager Graham Watson will take on an expanded role following Sporting Director Steve...

    F1
  8. Wolff: Spa clash allowed Mercedes to clear air 09:56

    Wolff: Spa clash allowed Mercedes to clear air

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the clash between Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton at the Belgian Grand Prix allowed him to...

    F1
  9. Video of the Day: Hamilton on his 'greatest year' 05:17

    Video of the Day: Hamilton on his 'greatest year'

    Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton reflects on "the greatest year of my life" after winning the 2014 Formula 1 world title and...

    F1
  10. Tuesday 16 December 2014

  11. Fry, Tombazis to leave Ferrari in reshuffle 18:48

    Fry, Tombazis to leave Ferrari in reshuffle

    Ferrari has announced that Pat Fry and Nikolas Tombazis are to leave the outfit as part of a major reshuffle under new team...

    F1
  12. Stolen Red Bull trophies recovered from lake 15:57

    Stolen Red Bull trophies recovered from lake

    A number of trophies stolen in a burglary at Red Bull's Formula 1 headquarters earlier this month have been recovered from a...

    F1
  13. Ferrari secures backing from América Móvil 15:37

    Ferrari secures backing from América Móvil

    Ferrari has secured a new sponsor in the form of Mexican telecommunications giant América Móvil. The company's arrival f...

    F1
  14. Di Montezemolo: Vettel the right choice for Ferrari 13:12

    Di Montezemolo: Vettel the right choice for Ferrari

    Former Ferrari President Luca di Montezemolo says the team made "the right choice" by signing Sebastian Vettel as Fernando...

    F1
  15. Vergne 'very happy' with Formula E debut 12:36

    Vergne 'very happy' with Formula E debut

    Jean-Éric Vergne says he was "very happy" with his debut weekend in Formula E, despite losing a potential victory on the...

    FE
  16. Marussia F1 assets to be auctioned 09:31

    Marussia F1 assets to be auctioned

    The collapsed Marussia Formula 1 team's various assets will begin to be auctioned off by administrators on Tuesday, the...

    F1
  17. Video of the Day: Red Bull's 2014 season review 05:04

    Video of the Day: Red Bull's 2014 season review

    Red Bull Racing takes a look back at its 2014 Formula 1 campaign in the form of a Parallax video.

    F1
  18. Monday 15 December 2014

  19. Gutiérrez named Ferrari reserve driver 14:55

    Gutiérrez named Ferrari reserve driver

    Ferrari has signed Esteban Gutiérrez as its test and reserve driver for the 2015 campaign. Gutiérrez makes the switch a...

    F1
  20. Alguersuari says Formula 1 is 'a big GP2' 14:53

    Alguersuari says Formula 1 is 'a big GP2'

    Ex-Toro Rosso driver Jaime Alguersuari says Formula 1 is now less of a challenge for rookies, describing the top echelon as...

    F1
  21. Frijns officially parts ways with Caterham 11:47

    Frijns officially parts ways with Caterham

    Robin Frijns has officially split from the Caterham Formula 1 team, with his contract expiring on Monday. The Dutchman...

    F1
  22. Video: Race Of Champions highlights 11:02

    Video: Race Of Champions highlights

    Enjoy highlights of the 2014 Race Of Champions, won by ex-Formula 1 driver David Coulthard.

    Misc
  23. Nielsen joins Williams as Sporting Manager 09:11

    Nielsen joins Williams as Sporting Manager

    Williams has appointed Steve Nielsen to a new role of Sporting Manager with immediate effect. Nielsen's switch comes just...

    F1
  24. Button insists multi-year McLaren deal necessary 08:57

    Button insists multi-year McLaren deal necessary

    Jenson Button says that a multi-year deal with McLaren was necessary due to the nature of the squad's new project with...

    F1
  25. Video of the Day: McLaren unveils 2015 line-up 05:02

    Video of the Day: McLaren unveils 2015 line-up

    Go behind-the-scenes at McLaren's Technology Centre in Woking during last week's announcement of its 2015 driver line-up.

    F1
  26. Sunday 14 December 2014

  27. Hamilton wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year 22:28

    Hamilton wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton has added to his post-season accolades by winning the prestigious BBC Sports Personality of...

    F1
  28. 19:20

    Latest Photos: Race Of Champions 2014

    Misc
  29. Coulthard storms to Race Of Champions crown 19:18

    Coulthard storms to Race Of Champions crown

    Former Formula 1 driver David Coulthard became the Champion Of Champions as he beat Mercedes reserve driver Pascal Wehrlein...

    Misc
  30. Lorenzo takes class win in Abu Dhabi 15:46

    Lorenzo takes class win in Abu Dhabi

    Two-time MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo took a victory in the Gentlemen class at the Gulf 12 Hours in Abu Dhabi,...

    Misc
  31. Fisichella completes F1 demo in Bologna 15:30

    Fisichella completes F1 demo in Bologna

    Former Formula 1 driver Giancarlo Fisichella has demonstrated one of the squad's machines at the Bologna Motor Show in...

    F1
  32. Video: Punta del Este ePrix highlights 13:05

    Video: Punta del Este ePrix highlights

    Watch highlights from the third round of the Formula E Championship at Punta del Este in Uruguay.

    FE
  33. Marchionne says Ferrari must not fear change 12:33

    Marchionne says Ferrari must not fear change

    Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne says his squad must not fear change as it tries to recover from a dismal 2014 campaign,...

    F1
  34. Video: López rolls in Race Of Champions 09:18

    Video: López rolls in Race Of Champions

    José María López rolls dramatically during the Race Of Champions Nations Cup in Barbados.

    Misc
  35. Boullier encouraged by Alonso signing 09:16

    Boullier encouraged by Alonso signing

    McLaren Racing Director Eric Boullier says that the signing of Fernando Alonso has to be considered as a major coup for the...

    F1
  36. Video of the Day: Australian Grand Prix launch 05:07

    Video of the Day: Australian Grand Prix launch

    Red Bull driver Daniel Ricciardo starred at the recent launch of the 2015 Australian Grand Prix.

    F1
  37. Saturday 13 December 2014

  38. Video: Race Of Champions Nations Cup 21:15

    Video: Race Of Champions Nations Cup

    Relive the annual Race of Champions Nations Cup competition, in which Tom Kristensen and Petter Solberg paired up to claim...

    Misc
  39. Team Nordic beats GB to ROC Nations Cup 19:13

    Team Nordic beats GB to ROC Nations Cup

    Le Mans legend Tom Kristensen and Rallycross Champion Petter Solberg combined to claim victory for Team Nordic in the Race...

    Misc
  40. 18:58

    Latest Formula E photos: Uruguay ePrix

    FE
  41. Buemi takes Formula E win as Vergne stars 18:57

    Buemi takes Formula E win as Vergne stars

    Sébastien Buemi claimed his first Formula E victory at the third round of the championship at Punta del Este in Uruguay as...

    FE
  42. McLaren adamant Magnussen will return 13:21

    McLaren adamant Magnussen will return

    McLaren boss Ron Dennis insists that Kevin Magnussen has a future in Formula 1, despite the team pressing the 'pause' button...

    F1
  43. Tost: Difficult decision to drop Vergne 09:33

    Tost: Difficult decision to drop Vergne

    Toro Rosso Team Principal Franz Tost says that dropping Jean-Éric Vergne for 2015 in favour of Carlos Sainz Jr. was a...

    F1
  44. McLaren's 2015 car passes crash tests 06:09

    McLaren's 2015 car passes crash tests

    McLaren has confirmed that its 2015 car has passed all of the mandatory FIA crash tests, over six weeks before the first...

    F1
  45. Video of the Day: Neymar co-drives Ogier 05:16

    Video of the Day: Neymar co-drives Ogier

    Watch as Brazilian football star Neymar attempts to co-drive with World Rally Champion Sébastien Ogier.

    Misc
  46. Friday 12 December 2014

  47. Verstappen chooses 33 as car number 17:00

    Verstappen chooses 33 as car number

    Max Verstappen has confirmed that he will use #33 as his race number in Formula 1. Verstappen, 17, will become the...

    F1
more news