Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

Austin: How Vettel can win a third title

14 November 2012 – Most of us expect Brazil to crown the F1 World Champion for the first time since 2009, but Texas could storm back onto the scene with a title-clinching moment for Sebastian Vettel. If he wins Sunday’s United States Grand Prix with Fernando Alonso fifth or lower, the crown heads to Heppenheim for a third successive year…

Red Bull has already failed to clinch the constructors’ title at the first possible point, in Abu Dhabi two weekends ago. Having said that, it was just about the only thing Red Bull have failed to do lately. The chances are now extremely low that they will not wrap up that honour this weekend, which in my opinion should be viewed as a major displeasure for McLaren; this really was their finest chance to take the spoils for the first time since 1998. For one reason or another, they’ve blown it.

Two to go: Vettel VS Alonso
The drivers’ battle is less clear cut, but facts are facts. One fact is that only Vettel or Alonso can now win this championship. That also means that whoever wins becomes a triple Formula 1 World Champion. Another is, if it is to be Alonso, Brazil is the only place where it can happen for him – just as it did back in 2005 and 2006. On the contrary, Vettel would have collected his titles in a trio of very different countries.

Vettel has a ten-point advantage after his equally superlative drive of Abu Dhabi. Many argue it was only because of the Safety Cars. Yes, they certainly helped, but let us not forget that he was again at the back of the field at the first restart. So really the second Safety Car was the big help and the first was effectively null and void. As for Alonso, just how many times will that man leave us astounded this season? He has to be my driver of the year, but the Red Bull RB8 is dominant when it comes to the car.

Don’t be fooled by the ten-point margin. You score that amount for a fifth place finish, so that translates to just two or four points under the previous two scoring systems which were replaced after the 2002 and 2009 campaigns. There’s nothing in it. To remind you, the current system is: 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
With that in mind, here is how Vettel can claim Germany’s tenth F1 title in Texas:
- By winning the race with Alonso fifth or lower
- By finishing second with Alonso ninth or lower
- By finishing third with Alonso 11th or lower
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

So, to retain even the slightest of chances heading to Brazil, Alonso must score a point if Vettel is to finish third in America - and he must finish eighth if Vettel is to come home second. If Vettel wins the race, which one would imagine is quite possible, then Alonso has to be fourth or better to keep his chances alive – and, even then, things would still be extremely difficult a week later.

For the reasons explained above, it is my personal belief that this title really is now Vettel’s to lose. Furthermore, I have said all season long that the rest of the pack have been on borrowed time while Red Bull made up for the loss of the exhaust-blown diffuser which allowed Vettel to dominate last year. McLaren have made too many mistakes and suffered from unreliability. Mercedes steered in the wrong direction with Super DRS and had an even greater lack of reliability. Lotus threatened mid-season but, ultimately, their ‘device’ proved too sensitive to make the most of at all circuits. As for Ferrari…well, the honest truth is that – although Alonso has driven better than ever, and indeed better than anybody for many years – the car was, quite simply, never quick enough. It certainly looked promising over the European summer but, with the glorious benefit of hindsight, his British and German pole positions only came because of adverse weather conditions.

All is not lost for Alonso, though. Anything really can still happen – just look at the final moments of 1964, 1986, 2007 and 2008 to name just four. Rain could affect proceedings (especially in Brazil), Vettel could lose a front wing up against a back-marker or perhaps Red Bull will fumble a pit-stop. These things might not happen too often, but they do happen and for those reasons Alonso must be in position to take advantage. If these things do not occur and the weather remains dry, you should probably expect Vettel pole positions and two clean drives to victory. The Ferrari may only qualify fifth, sixth or seventh and that always leaves a driver in the danger zone at the start…you don’t need to be Einstein to work that one out and just look at what happened in Japan. On top of this, Red Bull was testing in Abu Dhabi last week whereas Ferrari elected to have their Young Driver run earlier in the year; you would therefore expect the pace deficit to be even bigger, if the updates work as planned.

So, in short, we can’t predict exactly how Vettel might win his third World Championship but – taking all things into account – the odds are certainly in his favour. At the start of 2012 I predicted that Lewis Hamilton would be the only man who could beat Sebastian Vettel this season. Hands up – I got that wrong. But what was right is the fact that Vettel, Adrian Newey and Red Bull have by far the best handle on the current set of Technical Regulations. It will be difficult for Alonso…

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
The facts: Circuit of the Americas
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Laps 56

Direction Anti-clockwise

Corners 20

Length 5.516 km / 3.427 mi

Local start time 1pm (GMT -6)

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

DRS zone
Back straight, between Turns 11 and 12
- Activation to be approximately 650 metres before Turn 12

FIA driver steward
Emerson Fittipaldi
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Gregory Haines
GPUpdate.net Editor

related

Comments

Latest News
Full
Compact

  1. Saturday 25 November 2017

  2. Video: Building a Formula 1 pit garage 05:34

    Video: Building a Formula 1 pit garage

    Join Red Bull Racing as the team prepares its garage and equipment for the final Formula 1 event of the year at the Yas Marina…

    F1
  3. Friday 24 November 2017

  4. Albon excluded from F2 qualifying results 19:16

    Albon excluded from F2 qualifying results

    ART Grand Prix's Alexander Albon has been excluded from the results of Friday's qualifying session at Yas Marina after officials…

    F2
  5. 17:36

    Follow us on Instagram for the best photos!

    F1
  6. 17:34

    Latest F1 photos: Friday in Abu Dhabi

    F1
  7. Vettel: No need for drastic set-up changes 17:29

    Vettel: No need for drastic set-up changes

    Sebastian Vettel believes Ferrari does not need to undertake many changes prior to Saturday's qualifying session in Abu Dhabi…

    F1
  8. Ricciardo expecting to be jumped in qualifying 17:15

    Ricciardo expecting to be jumped in qualifying

    Daniel Ricciardo has played down Red Bull's chances of competing with Mercedes and Ferrari over the course of the Abu Dhabi…

    F1
  9. Hamilton makes 'good progress' on first day 17:02

    Hamilton makes 'good progress' on first day

    Lewis Hamilton was encouraged by Mercedes' start to proceedings at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, as he set the quickest ever lap of…

    F1
  10. Video: Rosberg's title-commemorating watch 16:22

    Video: Rosberg's title-commemorating watch

    In his latest vlog, Nico Rosberg visits Singapore to pick up a watch produced by IWC, created to mark the first anniversary of…

    F1
  11. F1 to present new logo after Abu Dhabi race 15:44

    F1 to present new logo after Abu Dhabi race

    Formula 1 Chairman and CEO Chase Carey has confirmed that the sport will introduce a new logo after Sunday's season-ending Abu…

    F1
  12. 15:40

    Latest F2 photos: Friday at Yas Marina

    F2
  13. Markelov takes first F2 pole at Yas Marina 15:39

    Markelov takes first F2 pole at Yas Marina

    Artem Markelov controlled qualifying for the Formula 2 Feature Race at Yas Marina, taking pole position – his first – for…

    F2
  14. 14:37

    Abu Dhabi GP: Full Practice 2 results

    F1
  15. Hamilton leads Vettel in second practice 14:33

    Hamilton leads Vettel in second practice

    Lewis Hamilton topped the timesheets during Friday evening's second practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with…

    F1
  16. Correa issued with pit start for blocking 13:21

    Correa issued with pit start for blocking

    Jenzer driver Juan Manuel Correa must start Saturday's first GP3 race from the pit lane after he was judged to have impeded…

    GP3
  17. 12:45

    Follow second practice for the Abu Dhabi GP!

    F1
  18. Stroll wants 'team player' at Williams in 2018 12:18

    Stroll wants 'team player' at Williams in 2018

    Williams driver Lance Stroll says he merely wants a "team player" to join him at the outfit in 2018, following the retirement of…

    F1
  19. 11:50

    Latest GP3 photos: Friday at Yas Marina

    GP3
  20. Russell nets GP3 pole to ensure ART sweep 11:49

    Russell nets GP3 pole to ensure ART sweep

    GP3 Champion George Russell claimed pole position for the final round of the campaign with a superb late effort in hot and sunny…

    GP3
  21. Norris: Carlin Formula 2 seat would be a 'risk' 11:36

    Norris: Carlin Formula 2 seat would be a 'risk'

    McLaren protégé Lando Norris says graduating to Formula 2 with Carlin would be a "risk", amid speculation that the Briton…

    F2
  22. Hartley set for another grid drop at finale 10:44

    Hartley set for another grid drop at finale

    Brendon Hartley is set for another grid penalty at this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix after a ninth MGU-H was fitted to his…

    F1
  23. 10:35

    Abu Dhabi Grand Prix: Full Practice 1 results

    F1
  24. Vettel heads close first practice session 10:33

    Vettel heads close first practice session

    Sebastian Vettel topped a close first practice session for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, with Ferrari, Mercedes and Red Bull all…

    F1
  25. 08:45

    Follow first practice for the Abu Dhabi GP!

    F1
  26. Video: Mercedes staff form human F1 car 08:26

    Video: Mercedes staff form human F1 car

    Watch as Mercedes staff gather outside the team's factory in Brackley to form the image of a Formula 1 car, in celebration of…

    F1
  27. Hamilton won't change approach for finale 07:24

    Hamilton won't change approach for finale

    Lewis Hamilton says he will not change his approach at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, vowing to "give it everything…

    F1
  28. Video: Alonso enters the world of eSports 05:32

    Video: Alonso enters the world of eSports

    FA Racing G2 Logitech G: a joint venture between one of the most iconic Formula 1 drivers in the world, Fernando Alonso, and one…

    F1
  29. Thursday 23 November 2017

  30. 17:02

    Latest F1 photos: Thursday in Abu Dhabi

    F1
  31. Alonso: Zero doubts over McLaren-Renault 16:22

    Alonso: Zero doubts over McLaren-Renault

    Fernando Alonso says he has "zero doubts" with regards to McLaren's decision to unite with Renault, as it prepares for its final…

    F1
  32. Hamilton: Last race with good-looking cars 14:16

    Hamilton: Last race with good-looking cars

    World Champion Lewis Hamilton feels that this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix will be the final Formula 1 event with good-looking…

    F1
  33. Pirelli confirms Hyper Soft, seven slicks 12:47

    Pirelli confirms Hyper Soft, seven slicks

    Formula 1 tyre supplier Pirelli has confirmed that it will create seven slick compounds for the 2018 season, introducing the…

    F1
  34. Video: Pirelli's 2018 F1 tyre compounds 12:47

    Video: Pirelli's 2018 F1 tyre compounds

    Watch an animation of Pirelli's 2018 Formula 1 tyre range, following the introduction of the pink-banded Hyper Soft tyre, and…

    F1
  35. Ericsson: My F1 future reliant on Ferrari 11:06

    Ericsson: My F1 future reliant on Ferrari

    Sauber driver Marcus Ericsson accepts his future in Formula 1 is reliant on the levels of collaboration between the Swiss team…

    F1
  36. Video: 10 incredible electric vehicle creations 10:53

    Video: 10 incredible electric vehicle creations

    From lightning fast hypercars to a flying taxi... Formula E presents some of the most impressive electric vehicles in production…

    FE
  37. Ma gets NIO reserve driver role in Formula E 10:16

    Ma gets NIO reserve driver role in Formula E

    Ma Qing Hua will act as NIO's reserve driver for the upcoming Formula E campaign. Ma was the first Chinese driver to make an…

    FE
  38. Mazepin gets tyre test run with Force India 09:02

    Mazepin gets tyre test run with Force India

    Nikita Mazepin will return to Formula 1 test action with Force India during next week's post-race tyre running at the Yas Marina…

    F1
  39. Preview: Abu Dhabi set for F1 2017 swansong 07:12

    Preview: Abu Dhabi set for F1 2017 swansong

    The 2017 Formula 1 campaign comes to a conclusion this weekend with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the Yas Marina Circuit.…

    F1
  40. Video: Porsche reviews 2017 WEC season 05:42

    Video: Porsche reviews 2017 WEC season

    Porsche reviews its 2017 World Endurance Championship campaign, as it bows out of the LMP1 class following another victory at Le…

    WEC
  41. Wednesday 22 November 2017

  42. Mercedes 'determined' to cap year with win 16:20

    Mercedes 'determined' to cap year with win

    Mercedes boss Toto Wolff says the manufacturer is "determined" to sign off from its title-winning campaign with victory in Abu…

    F1
  43. Video: di Grassi's guide to Audi's FE car 15:38

    Video: di Grassi's guide to Audi's FE car

    Join reigning Formula E champion Lucas di Grassi as he gives a tour of Audi's e-tron FE04, which will be used in this season's…

    FE
  44. Todt to run unchallenged in FIA election 15:07

    Todt to run unchallenged in FIA election

    Jean Todt is poised for a third term as the FIA's President after he was listed as the only candidate for the upcoming…

    F1
more news