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Posted By: James Allen  |  21 Nov 2012   |  3:47 pm GMT  |  179 comments

It’s been one of the most exciting seasons of F1 and it looks like it may have one more twist before it’s over.

This weekend the World Drivers’ Championship will be decided at the Brazilian Grand Prix, between Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. It seems straightforward for Vettel. He needs only to finish fourth or better regardless of Alonso’s result to win the title. Red Bull is the form team at Interlagos, having won this race for the last three years in a row.

But it looks as though fate may intervene, with rain forecast on Saturday and Sunday. As we have seen in the past at Interlagos, this makes it more of a lottery. If it is dry both days then on paper the Red Bull driver should comfortably achieve his goal, qualifying on the front row and finishing on the podium.

If it happens to rain around 14-00 hrs on qualifying and race day, then anything could happen and Alonso, with nothing to lose, could end up champion. Especially with his record of making things happen for himself.

There is also the question of Red Bull’s reliability, with Mark Webber’s retirement due to yet another alternator failure in Austin causing anxiety for Red Bull bosses. Red Bull is set to use new specification alternators in Brazil, which Renault’s other teams used in Austin last weekend. But it is going to feel like a time bomb until the chequered flag falls.

Here are the championship permutations:
*Any scenario where Vettel is fourth or higher gives Vettel the title.
*A win for Alonso would give him the title if Vettel is fifth or lower
*If Alonso is second, he would be champion if Vettel is 8th or lower
*If Alonso is third with Vettel lower than ninth, Alonso is champion

The Brazilian Grand Prix is a unique race on the F1 calendar, a circuit of unpredictability due to weather, tight run-off areas and a high chance of a safety car. There have been many heart-in-the-mouth finales at this event in the past and it’s a relief when a race goes to plan, especially when a championship is at stake.

The circuit is special for a number of reasons; set in a natural bowl around a lake in a suburb of Sao Paulo, the passionate and noisy crowd can see most of the circuit from their seat. The venue is also at one of the highest altitudes of any F1 circuit at just over 800 metres. This means that the atmospheric pressure is almost 10% less than at sea level and this cuts engine power, downforce and drag by a similar amount.

It is also the shortest lap of the season in terms of lap time, a quick lap there being under 1m 12 seconds, so the qualifying and racing have an intense quality about them. The circuit has a fast downhill sector one and final uphill sector three, with a tight infield sector in the middle.

It is one of six anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar. For years it was the only one, but in recent years Hermann Tilke has had a penchant for anticlockwise tracks and they make up almost 30% of the calendar.

The tyre choice from Pirelli is surprising once again, in that they have opted for medium and hard compounds, whereas last season they came with soft and medium. On the face of it, this is another conservative choice from Pirelli, a trend we have seen for the last six races. However the simulations show that there is doubt whether the fastest way to do this race is one or two stops, as we shall explain.


Track characteristics

Interlagos – 4.309 kilometres. Race distance – 71 laps = 305.909 kilometres. 15 corners in total. Average speed 210km/h. A classic circuit set in a natural bowl, in a suburb of Sao Paulo.

Aerodynamic setup – Med/High downforce. Top speed 323km/h (with DRS open) 311km/h without.

Full throttle – 60% of the lap time (ave/high). Total fuel needed for race distance – 144 kilos (ave/low). Fuel consumption – 2.10 kg per lap (low)

Brake wear- light. Number of braking events – 6, Time spent braking – 16% of the lap.

Loss time for a Pit stop = 15.5 seconds
Total time needed for a pit stop: 20 seconds

Fuel effect (cost in lap time per 10kg of fuel carried): 0.27 seconds (ave)

* See if you can find the fastest strategy for the Brazilian Grand Prix, using our own UBS Race STRATEGY CALCULATOR


Form Guide

The Brazilian Grand Prix is the final round of 20 in the 2012 FIA F1 World Championship.

Last year’s race was dominated by Red Bull, but Ferrari and McLaren both have a strong record on this circuit. Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has been the form driver in the final part of the season, winning a string of races and enjoying an average of 0.5s margin over his title rival Fernando Alonso in qualifying since the Singapore Grand Prix.

Mark Webber won last year, Felipe Massa won the race for Ferrari in 2006 and 2008, while Michael Schumacher, making his final F1 appearance this weekend, has won it four times. McLaren hasn’t won there since 2005 and neither Lewis Hamilton nor Jenson Button has ever won there, despite both clinching their world titles at this event by finishing in fifth place in 2008 and 2009 respectively.

This season has featured eight different race winners, one of the most open seasons for a long time.


Weather Forecast

Rain showers are a common occurrence in Sao Paolo at this time of year and many Brazilian Grands Prix have experienced sudden showers over the years. The forecast for the weekend is for temperatures around 25 degrees centigrade but with threats of rain on Saturday and Sunday.

Likely tyre performance and other considerations

Pirelli tyre choice for Brazil: Medium (white markings) and Hard (silver markings). This combination has been seen several times including Austin, Spa, Monza and Sepang

The choice of medium and hard, rather than the soft and medium of last year, is very conservative by Pirelli.

They have gone for this combination due to the high energy loadings through the high speed corners, but the signs are that this will lead to very interesting strategy deliberations. Before a wheel is turned in practice, it looks like there could be a premium on saving a set of the faster medium tyres from qualifying to use in the second stint of a two stop strategy before switching to new hard tyres for a longish final stint (black line in graph below). This is a faster strategy and gives track position in the final stint over a two stop strategy where the second and third stints are on new hard tyres.

However a well-timed one-stop (blue line) on these very conservative tyres is also comparable to the black line two stopper, it will give track position but the two stopper may have more pace in the closing laps.

The track does not have a particularly abrasive surface and the energy going into the tyres is largely from the series of left hand corners before the final straight. On top of that, the tyres get plenty of rest on the two long straights and a safety car around one third race distance could change the decision making process.

The limiting factor on this track is the rear tyre, with the stop-start traction events in the series of corners in the middle part of the lap and the last corner onto the uphill final straight.


Number and likely timing of pit stops

Last year’s race was won with three stops. The pit lane at Interlagos is quite short and the time needed for a stop is only 15.5 seconds plus the stationary time. However the indications this year are that two stops will be the way to go.

Starting in the top ten, one stop does not look competitive and seems unlikely to work out unless there is a safety car. However it might be worth a gamble for cars starting outside the top ten, as they can start on new medium tyres, rather than used. One stoppers will be greatly helped by a safety car deployment.

Overtaking at Interlagos isn’t too much of a problem, thanks to the long uphill straight leading to the Senna S. And the DRS wing certainly helps.


Chance of a Safety Car

The chances of a Safety Car are high at 63%. The Safety Car has been used in seven of the last ten races. It is often called into action on the first lap, as it’s a short lap with 24 cars charging into tight corners.

This makes the Safety Car an important element to factor into Race Strategy planning. It encourages teams to hedge their bets and split strategies with one car doing a conventional two stop plan and the other on a one stop, which would benefit from a safety car. This is because a safety car would close up the field reducing any time loss and if timed well, would allow a one stopping car to effectively get a free pit stop.

Recent start performance

Starts are a critical part of the race and strategy can be badly compromised by a poor start, while good starts can make strategists change their plans in the hope of a good result.

As far as 2012 start performance is concerned drivers have gained (+) or lost (-) places off the start line this season on aggregate as follows. Please note that where a driver has been eliminated on first lap this has been noted and removed from the sample as it skews the table. So this is intended as a guide of trends, rather than a definitive list.

Gained:

+39 Glock
+35 Massa ***** *******, Kovalainen
+28 Alonso********, Perez***
+22 Karthikeyan, Vergne **********, Pic
+20 Senna* ***** ********
+16 De la Rosa ****
+15 Hulkenberg***********
+14 Schumacher* ****** **********
+13 Raikkonen, Kobayashi**** *********
+11 Petrov***** *******
+8 Di Resta ***** ***********
+6 Vettel
+5 Button*********
+4 Maldonado****
+2 Hamilton

Lost:
-3 Ricciardo*
-5 Grosjean** **** ***** ******** ***********
-6 Webber********
-7 Rosberg******** ***********

* Senna, Ricciardo and Hulkenberg were all involved in accidents on 1st lap in Australia
** Schumacher and Grosjean collided on Lap 1 in Malaysia, Senna and Perez pitted for wet tyres on opening lap
***Perez punctured on lap 1 in Spain and went to back of field
**** Eliminated by or involved in first lap accident in Monaco
***** Di Resta eliminated lap 1 at Silverstone, Petrov did not start
***** Massa, Senna and Grosjean involved in first lap collisions dropping them to the back
****** Schumacher forced to pit lap 1 in Hungary (lost six places)
*******Massa (puncture) and Petrov (broken nose) pitted for repairs on lap 1 in Singapore after making contact.
******** Alonso, Rosberg, Webber, Senna and Grosjean either retired or dropped to the back following first-lap accidents in Japan
********* Button eliminated, Kobayashi pitted for repairs, on lap 1 after collision in Korea
********** Schumacher and Vergne pitted for repairs at the end of lap one after first-corner collision in India
***********Rosberg, Grosjean di Resta pitted for repairs and rejoined after first-lap incidents in Abu Dhabi. Hulkenberg eliminated after first-corner accident


Pit Stop League Table

Of course good strategy planning also requires good pit stop execution by the mechanics and there have been some amazing performances; we have seen tyre stops carried out in less than two and a half seconds this year.

The league table below shows order of the pit crews based on their best total time in the pit lane in the recent United States Grand Prix

1. McLaren 2.39secs (3)
2. Red Bull 2.48secs (1)
3. Lotus 2.77secs (9)
4. Mercedes 2.87secs (5)
5. Ferrari 3.10secs (2)
6. Sauber 3.66secs (4)
7. Force India 3.68secs (6)
8. Williams 3.72secs (10)
9. Marussia 3.96secs (7)
10. Toro Rosso 4.23secs (8)
11. Caterham 4.29secs (11)
12. HRT 6.08secs (12)


The UBS Race Strategy Briefing is prepared by James Allen, with input and data from several F1 teams and from Pirelli.

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179 Comments
  1. Andrew Halliday says:

    I hope Alonso wins. It’s also disappointing to see that Interlagos is slowly being turned into a modern ‘carpark’ circuit with reports of the outside of Turn 1 being tarmaced.

    1. KK says:

      If Vettel comes second, I wont mind Alonso winning the race.

      1. Rob Newman says:

        Good one :)

      2. tim says:

        Bad one…..

      3. Craig says:

        Best of luck to both drivers. The current scenario is what makes F1 great [excluding Bernie et al]. I think it is more relevant to note how any of the other drivers could impact the race, quali etc. I hope we will see the likes of Kimi & Lewis really driving the wheels off their cars.

      4. Elie says:

        Ok then 3rd- ha!

    2. Frank says:

      Here’s all you need to know about the race:

      1) Win lose or draw Alonso will be complain about having an underperforming car. Nevermind that there are at least a dozen other drivers on the grid in cars that can’t keep pace with the leaders. Alonso wants you to know he is special.
      2) Massa will roll over and be a lap dog for Ferrari – take a grid penalty, let Alonso pass, stay behind Alonso, take out a car or two. You name it he will do it and know in advance that Ferrari will be pulling out all the stops. Alonso can’t win without Massa’s help. Remember he is in an underpowered car (see pt. #1)

      1. Paolo says:

        +1

        Even if Vettel is kicking Alonso’s butt in the same Ferrari, I am sure we would see comments on JAonF1 like “Vettel is winning only because Ferrari has setup the car to his liking” and “Alonso is outdriving the car”. Well, I am a physicist and I can tell you physically thats not possible.

        I admire both these drivers. The European GP was a great example of why both these drivers are very special. Vettel in quali and in race was in a league of his own, until his retirement.

        Alonso drove a magnificent race with some very bold overtakes at some unfancied places.

        I admire both of them but I dont like the politics and selfish nature of Alonso. That’s just my opinion. I am comfortable that to some of you he is an idol and an icon.

        (please dont retort with “What about Vettel’s petulance?” etc)

      2. James Allen says:

        [We note that the anti-Vettel voices have grown irritating to many readers, please note Mod will be coming down on the ones which add nothing constructive to the debate - Mod]

      3. CRT says:

        So, James, in a comment that talks about the “selfish nature of Alonso” which of course adds a lot to the F1 debate, and that it is a reply to another comment gratuitously attacking Alonso your reply is that anti-Vettel voices are not allowed!?

        I am puzzled to be honest.

        It is true that Vettel, in my opinion, is not receiving the level of recognition he deserves looking at his achievements. But anti-somebody comments, that is Hamilton’s and Alonso’s territory I’m afraid. I you want to moderate anti-drivers comments not adding to the debate, please do so.

      4. James Allen says:

        It’s the same for all drivers, of course.

        Not saying anti-Vettel voices not allowed, just qualifying what is and isn’t allowed in terms of content

      5. Puffing says:

        I strongly agree with CRT. Some comments on Alonso are just [mod to myself] product of [mod] and don’t add a p. to the debate. Even more, some of them are repetitions coming from the same individual, once signing with name+initial, others with initial+surname.

      6. Luca says:

        i think that is a little ridiculous to say that Massa will take out another car at the request of Ferrari.

        Of course Ferrari will want Massa, where he can, to aid Alonso – any team in this position would (yes, even RB will call on MW to assist!). But I am pretty sure Massa will go well, as per usual in Brazil, and it will be Alonso who has to get himself into a position where he can benefit from Massa’s help.

        And lets no kid ourselves, Ferrari operate as a team. Most driver combinations over the years have all helped out the other when one has been in a stronger position to win the drivers championship – just like when Kimi returned the favour to Massa in 2008 and got of his way, reciprocating the move from the prior year. Even Schummacher helped out Irvine when needed. But since his accident 9and even the infamous Germany GP as some see it) Massa has been a shadow of his former self – fortunately, he now appears to be back on course to being as he once was, but for 2012 he is at the service of Alonso.

        If you watch F1, all this wont be news and whether you like it or not, that is how Ferrari choose to run their team. Get over it.

      7. Elie says:

        Frank / Paolo I agree with you both

    3. Wade Parmino says:

      With regards to the tarmac runoff on the outside of turns, these are my thoughts. Gravel traps are no good for several reasons. Cars can bite in and roll. Any car ending up in one is almost certainly out of the race; this means there is less cars in the race, as well as the fact that a safety car will be needed to remove it, causing disruption to the race.

      From a driver’s perspective, a gravel trap causes him to not push quite as hard as he can because he knows a mistake could bury him in the sand and put him out of the race. Overshooting a turn should cost you a few tenths or a second, not put you out of the race.

      Tarmac run-off is better than sand/gravel but artificial grass is better still. It’s safe, drivers can race hard, it keeps cars in the race and it running smoothly. It also looks good. Run-off areas just need to be clear, open and consist of a surface with a low enough co-efficient of static friction (limiting grip/traction)so as to not allow drivers to benefit from running deep or wide, beyond the white lines.

      Paul Ricard now has super abrasive run-off areas; it brings a car safely to a stop quickly and the driver can still carry on. However, the intrinsic penalty for ending up on this surface is that tyres will be severely worn. I’d like to see a GP at the new Paul Ricard track; this could add an extra variable into the already technical nature of tyre strategy. :)

  2. Irish con says:

    I have to say this has been one of my favourite tracks and races for years no matter what engines, tyres, drs or kers u always get good racing. Seems tracks with elavation always have good racing. Bring it on. There is always twists and turns in brazil. 2006 Schumacher stops in qualifying. 2007. Hamilton gear box problem. 2008 the rain at the end of the race. 2009 wet Saturday means vettel, Lewis and jenson start at the back. 2010 the hulk on pole. Bring it on please.

    1. W Johnson says:

      And Hamilton winning the WDC in 2008! :)

  3. Robert N says:

    James,

    can’t RBR test the new alternator on a dyno with an old engine until they are satisfied that it will last at least a full race distance?

    And, if I may play devil’s advocate, what will happen to Massa’s gearbox if he qualifies in top 5 with Alonso on P6? ;)

    1. James Allen says:

      Renault has done 2,000km tests with them and they’ve passed. But it won’t stop them feeling nervous

      1. KGBVD says:

        So James, who’s your money on?

    2. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

      From reports it has more to do with the packaging within the RB chasis rather than the unit itself.

    3. Jim Dee says:

      No doubt that Massa will be set up for Qualifying. To keep all options open. The more I think about the deliberate penalties the more I think it’s like diving for a penalty shot.

    4. Baktru says:

      What would be more interesting is a scenario such as…

      3 laps from the end, all of the following are not within 5 seconds of another car:

      11th: Vettel after a run-in with Maldonado or Grosjean earlier in the race.
      4th: Alonso.
      3rd: Webber
      2nd: Hamilton
      1st: Massa

      1. Jim Dee says:

        Massa first? Where is Kimi?

      2. **Paul** says:

        I see where you’re going with that one; it’s an interesting question.

        I must admit that part of me thinks that Alonso’s complaints about a slower car (although true) and his comments about fighting Newey are more than offset by the following:

        - The Ferrari is incredibly reliable and has picked up points that Red Bull and McLaren have dropped, a real bonus. The offset to a really fast car, like RBR and McLaren have is it’s reliability. You can’t have both.
        - Vettel has had no assistance from his team mate, if anything his team mate has made it very clear that the only way he will let him pass is if he can beat him with pace and skill. Mark wants to win races, and has suggested he won’t help his team take both championships if it’s at the sacrifice of his own goals (i.e. a race win)
        - Ferrari are purely focused on Alonso; and have been all season; Massa is told to jump out of the way every time Fernando is behind him. Austin last week is a great demonstration of this.

        So with all that in mind; The Ferrari is slower yes, but the teamwork Ferrari have employed from day 1 of this season is something that no other top driver has. That for me makes their overall packages on a similar level.

        Roll on Sunday; and let the best new 3 time WDC win !

      3. Jay Bopara says:

        Mark Webber is subversively handicapped by Red Bull, just look at the race in Abu Dhabi where they pitted Webber earlier than required and once again compromised Webber’s race to help Vettel. Vettel and Alonso are both the clear No. 1′s in their teams. Ferrari are just up front about it. Red Bull have shown time, and time again they are [mod] with team tactics. Hats off to Ferrari for their honesty. Ferrari deserve to win for their honesty, instead of Red Bull [mod]

      4. KRB says:

        Well it’s simple, Massa would let the next 3 thru, drop into 4th, so Alonso wins. If it was Ham and But running 2-3 behind Massa, THAT would be a conundrum, as dropping back to aid Alonso would also mean giving up 2nd in the WCC.

  4. goferet says:

    Argh, the Brazilian Grand Prix is a pretty nerve wrecking event especially when a championship is still on the cards.

    Everything about this race gives one the goose bumps from the threat of rain to the first turn, heck the pit lane exist alone is something to keep the drivers awake at night.

    Right, I hope it rains (especially in the race) this weekend so the fans can have an all out grand finale for just like Spa, Interlagos without a little bit of rain to spice it up can be a little bit boring as we saw last year.

    Anyway I had a quick look at the stats for this race and from the looks of it, it appears both championship contenders won’t be winning this weekend.

    a) Red Bull has won the last three events and yet in the history of Interlagos (since 1973) no team has won four races on the trot.

    b) Alonso – The only victory to his name in the Americas came in Canada some years ago, however he has a pretty good record of planting it on the podium in Interlagos.

    So yup, me thinks we may have a spoiler this weekend as we usually do at Interlagos, which isn’t nice for the race winner always gets shoved to the side by the papparazzi.

    P.s.

    Oh, Interlagos also doesn’t favour the pole guy.

    In the last 10 years only Massa’s two wins have come from pole.

    As for Interlagos 28 year old history only 10 winners have done it from pole.

    Good luck to Vettel and Alonso

  5. Joe_in_Miami says:

    I do hope there is a fair ending to the championship. We have had enough fabricated champs for now. Shame this one has not been a fight between “pure bloods” like Lewis, Fernando or even Michael. The drinks manufacturer has already had enough ROI. Bring it back to the fans Bernie.

    1. Landon says:

      The insinuation that Sebastian Vettel or Mark Webber are not ‘pure blooded’ drivers is insulting, not just to your own intelligence but everyone else that straps or has strapped themselves into a racing machine. There’s only one reason they do it, and it ain’t for the money.

  6. Seán Craddock says:

    “This is a faster strategy and gives track position in the final stint over a two stop strategy where the second and third stints are on new hard tyres (blue line below)

    However a one-stop (blue line) on these very conservative tyres is also comparable to the black line two stopper”

    James, these graphs are really confusing me, what does the blue line actually show and what about the red and green? There’s only one 2-stop on the graph…

    1. James Allen says:

      Its shows a car starting on used options and switching to new primes in a one-stop strategy

      Others are various options for different timings

      1. Angel Garcia (crespo) says:

        James, I think he meant that you’re using the blue line for two different scenarios – your description of the lines and what’s on the graph aren’t matching up.

      2. P King says:

        Agree with Angel Garcia (crespo).

        ” a two stop strategy where the second and third stints are on new hard tyres (blue line below)”

        does not tally with the next sentence

        ” a one-stop (blue line) “.

        From what I see on the graph:
        red = one stop with a short first stint
        blue = one stop with a longer first stint
        black = two stop
        green = three stop

  7. goferet says:

    As for my analysis on where I think the F1 championship will end up on the 25th of November >>> I think the 25 year old wonder kid will take it and here is why:

    1) As Alonso famously said, he isn’t fighting only against Sebi but Newey too but in my view what’s the knock out blow is Alonso is fighting someone that has better luck than him.

    If it were Hammy, Kimi (or the older Schumi from 2005 onwards) then Fred would have won because he has better luck compared to Hammy & Kimi but when it comes to Sebi, that’s a different kettle of fish all together

    2) Whenever there are two drivers in contention for the F1 title heading to the last race, the driver leading in the points usually bags it.

    On the other hand, whenever there are 3 or more drivers still on contention at the last race, then more times than not, the driver leading the standing usually loses e.g. 2007 and 2010 etc.

    3) Alonso doesn’t have a good record of winning nail biting finales for his two previous titles were won well before the last race

    Sebi & Hammy are the experts here when it comes to edge-of-the-seat stuff.

    4) Senna who had the best season of his career in a slower car ultimately lost the title to a Newey car

    So you see, come rain or shine, I believe we shall be seeing a certain bloke smiling from ear to ear (which fact I didn’t think was even possible this time last year)

    1. Miha Bevc says:

      I really hope you are right!

    2. Steve J says:

      goferet – “Alonso doesn’t have a good record of winning nail biting finales for his two previous titles were won well before the last race”

      But Alonso won the 2006 Championship at Interlagos, the final race of the season!

    3. Lucas says:

      Hammy, Sebi, Schumi, Fred… Are we on a website for 8 year olds who like Teletubbies?

  8. All revved-up says:

    James – enjoyable read.

    The second paragraph under Safety Car. Did you mean three stop instead of one stop? I don’t see how a one stop could benefit from a safety car?

    That Italian track where Senna had his accident. Doesn’t that also run anti-clockwise?

    1. James Allen says:

      A safety car usually helps the car making fewer stops, for a number of reasons, not least, it closes the field up and gives track position when the multi-stoppers come in

      1. All revved-up says:

        I think I get what you have in mind, but the words “free stop” threw me off.

        For Brazil, basic on your chart, a safety car between laps 12 and 28 will give the cars on the black line a free stop, and give the two stoppers track position when the one stop cars pit, and after the second round of pit stops.

        A safety car after lap 32 allows the two stoppers to catch right up to the one stoppers. The one stoppers will have track position, but will need to defend against cars on faster tyres.

        That’s my reading of the chart. Happy to be educated by a sharper mind.

      2. All revved-up says:

        I think I get what you have in mind, but the words “free stop” threw me off.

        For Brazil, based on your chart, a safety car between laps 12 and 28 will give the cars on the black line a free stop, and give the two stoppers track position when the one stop cars pit, and after the second round of pit stops.

        A safety car after lap 32 allows the two stoppers to catch right up to the one stoppers. The one stoppers will have track position, but will need to defend against cars on faster tyres.

        That’s my reading of the chart. Happy to be educated by a sharper mind.

    2. Wade Parmino says:

      Yes, Imola does run anti-clockwise.

    3. PaoloC says:

      Yes, Imola runs anticlockwise

  9. Johnny Benerba says:

    I’d cheer for Alonso just because Vettel won the last two but whoever wins the title should deserve it. My only hope is that Ferrari puts this car on pole and gives us something to be excited about. It’s great that points-wise it is close but RBR has been dominating lately and Ferrari, while in the hunt just doesn’t seem like it can pull it out. Love to see Alonso/Hamilton fighting for first while Massa tries to fend off Vettel for 3rd. What a finish that would be.

    1. James Clayton says:

      Now that Hamilton’s won his penultimate race for McLaren, I’m not entirely sure he’d be fighting Alosno to hard for the victory should Hamilton be placed in between Fernando and Seb.

      1. stickymart says:

        Are you sure? I think the extra win will make him a very happy bunny indeed. Apart from the fact that he’s a racing driver, and therefore winning is eveything, it may also be a final finger to Mclaren to show them what they’re missing next year. Unless they do something stunning with the car i’d be surprised if they get a single pole in 2013. i’m actually tempted to put money on that.

      2. James Clayton says:

        Why do you think Hamilton wants to put a finger up to McLaren? They seem to be parting on relatively friendly terms.

        The reason I say it is that takes just about every opportunity possible (even creating them where he can) to say how he believes Fernando should be champion this year.

      3. stickymart says:

        Perhaps finger was too strong a phrase, but I’m not so sure the parting is as amicable as has been reported. Whitmarsh’s comments about Hamilton making a mistake moving away were pretty out of line in my eyes, he could have waited until the end of the season.
        The one thing that has impressed me this season is the new found respect between Alonso and Hamilton. I know the issues they had were more team orientated but it’s always good to see drivers complimenting on each other’s abilities.

      4. KRB says:

        Ham hasn’t won in Brazil, so of course he wants to add it to win tally.

      5. James Clayton says:

        that, however, is a very good point!

  10. Bring Back Murray says:

    Pefect scenario:

    Showers during qualifying. Vettel misses Q2. Alonso on pole.

    Vettel has to fight his way up to fourth place to get the WDC.

    Bring on Sunday

    1. Stuart Harrison says:

      I like it but would add “..only for Vettel’s alternator to fail on the penultimate lap” :)

  11. mexicobob says:

    The kids should enjoy it when the toys start to come out of the red pram!

  12. CarlH says:

    If Vettel wins I hope he spares us the motivational speech over the team radio. I half expect him to burst into that Journey song from Glee every time he wins a race now.

    Rocky: “Yes! That’s what I’m talking about! P1, well done!”

    Vettel: “Don’t stop believing! Hold on to that feeling…”

    1. James Allen says:

      If he makes it 3 x WDC on Sunday that will be a moment for sober contemplation.

      3 x WDC = One of the all time greats, like it or not

      1. Joe_in_Miami says:

        You are right James, the Stats will not lie. But the hearts of the F1 fans will qualify these champs.

      2. JF says:

        A lot of green hearts out their right now then!

      3. azac21 says:

        Using stats is the best way to lie sometimes…

      4. Wade Parmino says:

        Statistics are good but these are not everything. Gilles Villenueve never won a championship but many consider him to be one of the best ever. GV is definitely the greatest driver to never win a championship.

        Vettel will have to repeat his success at a different team in order to truly solidify his talent in the eyes of many. I think he could probably do this, however until he does, claims of “it’s all the car” will haunt him. He seems to have a personality where he has to prove and show off how great he is.

      5. KRB says:

        Wade, I think Moss is the best to not have won a WDC. But Gilles is up there. There was that one quali in the wet, where he beat others by something like 20 sec’s. Jody Sheckter thought he had done a monster lap, until he saw Gilles’ time!!

      6. unF1innished Business says:

        Totally agree James but I have a feeling even if Vettel has 3 to his belt by Sunday it still won’t be enough for a certain group of fans to accept this.

      7. Julian says:

        I mean he’s already ranked 8th best F1 driver ever by BBC…

      8. Chapor says:

        Yes, and I am one of them… Same as Schumi. Not convinced by any means.

        If Vettel dropped his “princess stompy-feet” act, than maybe I could start to respect him.

      9. [MISTER] says:

        It’s how hard you had to fight your oponents and how well you did against better/equal machinery that makes you a great. Not the number of easy won championships.

        Even if Vettel wins this year, for alot more fans the respect will go towards Alonso.

        Vettel NEVER won The Driver of the Day “award” on this website. Never in 3 years as far as I recall. That shows you what the fans think of Vettel’s performances against the other drivers on the grid.

      10. Joe_in_Miami says:

        A car that is on average 0.5 to 1 second faster than the next competitive one……that is easy James.

      11. James Allen says:

        How many times in the last 40 GPs has that been the case?

      12. GideanYates says:

        Vettel never winning DOTD (did he really never win this?) speaks volumes as to biases a large portion of F1 fans have against him. Not so coincidently, the word fan is derived from fanatic. :-)

        Not sure if its just nationality driven or fed up with another German run on titles or tired of drivers winning in the best car (which is how its essentially been since the start of F1).

        Either way all this hatred for Vettel is tiring and makes it a chore to sift through comments to ones that actually discuss the race without bashing drivers.

        I for one am thrilled that we can see all time greats such as Vettel, Alonso, and Hamilton ply their trade. It’s been a very long time since we had 3 drivers that are head and shoulders above the rest racing at or near their peek….curious has there been another time where we had this many greats racing near their peek?

      13. Miha Bevc says:

        Go read non-english blogs.

      14. goober says:

        Easy won? Golly, 2010 wasn’t easy, and this year hasn’t been easy.

        We may well have a 25 year old triple world champion. Have to respect that.

        Wishing for a great race, and either Webs or Massa for the win. I have a dream :)

      15. brny666 says:

        Yes indeed it shows how far removed from reality they are. Easily won? Please enlighten me how easy it is to win an F1 WDC. Then ponder on the difficulty of doing it three times. Then think on how difficult it must be to do it 3 times in a row.

      16. messrine says:

        Totally agree with MISTER. From looking at other forums most fans, and indeed most professionals, regard Alonso as far superior to Vettel. So even if Vettel does win it will be Alonso who will ultimately be judged as the greatest in the history books.

      17. tim says:

        Seb has had it easy with the car..he has not proven how good he is UNTIL he has a third rate car.

      18. SpiderBrown says:

        Or is it a reflection of his popularity amongst the reader group of this website (or combination of both). Many readers keep saying that ‘I can never vote for Vettel’ and comment on their general dislike for him all the while James continually reiterates what a nice guy he really is. It is an interesting contrast.

        For a 2 time World Champ (and currently leading the 3rd) not to have ever been voted DOTD in that period must be a reflection of some level of bias.

        It would be intriguing to know the outcomes of DOTD polls if they were conducted on websites in mainland Europe (or Germany!).

        Having said that I freely acknowledge that bias is a natural human outcome from the readers – for example – as was reflected in last years poll on James’s “F1 fans’ World Championship” where Di Resta was voted above his team mate, Sutil, in overall driver rankings when his team mate had beaten him on points and IMHO driver ability.

        It is the passion for certain drivers that makes reading all the comments fascinating!

        FYI – in the interests of full disclosure – and coming from Perth – I will always be biased in favour of Ricciardo!

      19. Lynn says:

        Easy wins???
        Not all fans are like you.
        I respect both 2xWDC, Vettel & Alonso.
        And whoever is going to get his 3rd title.

      20. unF1nnished business says:

        Maybe the reason why Vettel hasn’t won DOTD on this site is because it’s mostly British fans in this forum. I’m sure if a German F1 journalist had a site he would fare better!

      21. James Allen says:

        That is untrue. It’s 45% British fans and the rest are from all over the world. A reader in Vietnam just ordered the JA on F1 2012 yearbook…

      22. Sugar Water says:

        +1
        Like it or not BIG difference driving the best package from the front vs. wheel to wheel ” combat “. Anyone with a ratoinal mind would ready agree. SB still has lots to prove to Many of us. Maybe someday he will swing us over. Lots of talk about Alonso -all fair and valid. I think Lewis got the worst of it this year…..that poor chap had as much bad luck as SB had good luck. What a shame. For me, would love to see Fermado win….just cannot bring myself to root for RB.

      23. Alan says:

        No, Vettel not winning Dotd just shows there are many more keyboard warriors who are fans of Alonso/Hamilton who simply cant bear the thought of Vettel winning (to be fair, not all Hamilton fans are this way)…Seb is a magnificent driver as is Lewis and as is Alonso.

      24. Fireman says:

        Following this logic Alonso doesn’t deserve his 2005 and 2006 championships as others had to fight a lot harder those seasons. Now that sounds just silly.

      25. Peter says:

        The RB cars have a difficulty adjustment on the steering wheel, James. Vettel must be setting it to easy mode! Surely you knew?

        It’s nothing to do with skill, talent, training, discipline, experience, strategy, ingenuity, guile, ruthlessness, sportsmanship, selfishness, team play, perfectionism, temperance, expertise, motivation, awareness or dedication at all.

      26. Aaron says:

        The 2011 title was an easy victory given the dominance of the Red Bul car, but I doubt you will find many people will agree that the 2010 or 2012 (if he wins it) titles were easy victories. The fact both will be decided by the final race of the season is surely evidence enough.

      27. **Paul** says:

        That’s because many fans don’t look at the complete picture. They look at the cars speed in the last 3 or 4 races; they forget that in mid-season Ferrari had a good car, and one that works well in the wet. They forget that Ferrari have had two cars since Australia running to try and get one car the title.

        I don’t forget that; and that’s why this years title is going to be well deserved either way. You don’t win a championship with 6 drivers who’ve won the title; and 8 seperate race winners with ease.

        The fact so many people say Vettel needs to prove himself in a poor car; then cite Hamilton (and FA) as one of the best is ironic to the extreme; he wasn’t the one who had a season in a Torro Rosso.

      28. Craig D says:

        How can you classify this as an “easy won” championship for Vettel. Yes he has had the best car over the last 5 or 6 races now (though mainly in qualifying and McLaren had the better race car in US) but having the best car for 5 or 6 races does not guarantee an easy championship.

        People seem to have selective memories, or weak ones that forget the whole picture. If this season had happened in reverse opinions would likely be different.

        The first 2/3 of the year Red Bull did not have the best car, particularly for qualifying, with the exception of Valencia. Vettel still kept himself in the hunt during this time. Red Bull have done the best job in the back end of this season and you have to credit both the team and driver for getting the job done. If McLaren had done the same and Lewis had strung together 3 or 4 wins on the trot, I doubt there’d be the same chorus of “It’s simply due to the car”. And people who say Vettel’s never proven himself… well…

        To suggest Vettel isn’t one of the best is rather disrespectful. What does that say about Webber? It’s delusional to suggest he isn’t also one of the top drivers in the sport but Vettel is at times able to utterly trounce him.

        Now am I a Vettel fan? No. Do I think he’s driven better than Alonso and Hamilton this year? No. In my opinion Alonso does deserve it more given the performances he’s extracted with the car he’s had and an almost error free year. It must be noted the Ferrari has been good at times this year though.

        But the above doesn’t imply that Vettel isn’t also deserving of the championship and hasn’t been one of the top drivers of the year. I’d rather see Alonso win it but some peoples opinion of Vettel seems subjective and data cherry picking to the extreme. You don’t have to like him but you should be able to acknowledge his talent. Otherwise it just comes across as sour grapes.

      29. AlexD says:

        Even you, James, are not convinced that he deserve this one more than Alonso.

      30. James Allen says:

        I said at the start of the season that whoever won the title this year would really deserve it.

        6 World Champs in the field and certainly ALO, VET, HAM and RAI have really performed.

        8 different race winners meant keeping a cool head all season and racking up the points.

        I’ll be delighted for whichever of them claims their 3rd WDC. It raises the bar for this generation of F1 drivers.

      31. Vinto says:

        James…

        What a mature attitude – surely this comment doesn’t belong on the interwebs. ;-)

        Couldn’t agree more. To the victor go the spoils…a great season and a deserved champion, whichever of the 2 succeeds.

        I can’t wait!

        Cheers,
        -Vinto

      32. [MISTER] says:

        When I said “easy won” I wasn’t referring specifically to Vettel, just in general since you said 3xWDC=all time great.

        But Vettel did had a better machinery than most of his rivals in the past 3 years, and every race in the past 3 years, somebody had a better performance than him, accordingly to the poles on this website.

        Anyway, lets hope for an epic battle this weekend.

      33. DB says:

        I think more important than 3 WDC is 3 WDC in a row.

        There have been 32 world champions. 8 of them have 3 or more WDC: 25%. But (currently) only 2 have 3 in a row: 6.25%.

        That’s even rarer than winning 4 or more WDCs: 3 drivers, or 9.38%.

        Of course, if the total number os drivers who have competed in WDC is taken into account, winning just one WDC is an impressive achievement: 32/876 = 3.65%!

        Sources:
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Formula_One_World_Drivers%27_Champions#By_driver
        http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Formula_One_drivers

        PS: Discounting 1950s and 1960s Indy 500 drivers, the champions percentage is still very low, around 4.4%.

        PPS: Take an average grid of 20 cars and the uniform chance of each one winning the WDC is 5%. Perhaps the historic average grid could be around 22 cars for that chance to be 4.5%? Either way, isn’t it a funny statistical fact how close that is to the 4.4% above? O the law of large numbers!

    2. Mansfield says:

      Vettel’s famous words over the radio if he wins the WDC:

      “Ringa-digga-digga-digga-digga-digga”

  13. Rockie says:

    I wonder how all the journalists and commentators have all come to the conclusion that if its wet then definately Alonso would win I think they are stuck in the early part of the season where teams didnt understand the tyres is this the same Ferrari that couldnt heat up its tyres in the dry that would heat it up in the wet? other than a DNF for Vettel I dont see how Alonso is going to wwin as its always proven in F1 the fast car going to the championship showdown always wins the race Kimi 2007 Button 2009 Vettel 2010

    1. James Allen says:

      Not saying that

      Saying that if it rains, then there are no certainties for Red Bull. And Alonso has nothing to lose, starting where he does

      1. Rockie says:

        I can relate to that, but dont understand the statement he doesnt have anything to lose? he might as well not turn up for the race its just the assumption that if it rains then advantage Alonso and Ferrari which I doubt.

    2. Martin says:

      I’ll claim even less knowledge about wet set ups than I do about dry (where I’m happy to hand out opinions with some confidence), so I’ll just note a comment Mark Webber made in 2010 when he said that Red Bull made some design choices that reduced the cars performance in the wet compared to the 2007-2009 car that starred in Fuji, Monza (particularly as a Torro Rosso), and China in those three years.

      If I was to guess, I’d suggest the rake of the undertray might have something to do with it as the plank, which can act as a bit of a rudder, acts more at the front than the rear.

      It could be a more difficult race for McLaren than it has had for some time in terms of pace given the team’s recent history of running hard springs for aerodynamic pitch and ride height control and Interlagos’ bumps. None of that helps in the rain either.

      Cheers,
      Martin

  14. Andrew says:

    “Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has been the form driver in the final part of the season”

    Surely Hamilton is the form driver?

    1. James Allen says:

      He’s driving beautifully, yes.

      But 4 wins in 5 races September/October is pretty decent form!

      1. Chapor says:

        Decent form from a dominant car… Newey’s car… And nothing will ever change that for me.

  15. jay harte says:

    james
    who is you money on for the race win
    wet and dry predicitions if possible ,
    cheers

  16. JamesD says:

    I suppose if it rains then the teams can use whatever tyres they like and the pit-stop calculator goes out of the window.

    I would love to see Lewis sign off his “first stint” with McLaren with a win.

    I never like to see a championship sewn up due to someone having reliability problems so, while I would like to see Alonso win it, I hope it’s not through Red Bull unreliability although I realise this scenario is very unlikely!

    1. Brace says:

      Would you prefer it then that Grosjean takes Vettel out like he took out Alonso in Belgium? Just to even it out.

      1. Vinto says:

        Brace:

        How about Grosjean taking Vettel out early, and then in the last few laps Alonso’s alternator failing while leading??? Just for something different!

        Cheers,
        -Vinto

      2. stickymart says:

        Ten metres from the line….oh that would be cruel….

        I am looking forward to this weekend, anything can happen and we’ll all have that in the back of our minds. Qualifying should be hum-dinger.

  17. Onko says:

    One sense that the fickle fate will be the
    arbiter this Sunday F1.
    In 2010 all Alonso needed to finish fifth
    or better to ba a WDC
    This sunday they are to many drivers want to finish in Neon lights,Hamilton, Shue,Kimi
    Massa to name a fiew, and Vettel singing oh
    don’t let the rain come down.
    I think it will be fascinating race.

  18. Simmo says:

    Pre 2012 record for most non finishes: 18:
    Monteiro (2005, out of 19 races),
    Heidfeld (2008, all races),
    Massa (2010, 19),
    Vettel (2011, 19),
    Webber (2011, 19),
    Alonso (2011, 19),
    di Resta (2011, 19).

    Current record: 19:
    Raikkonen (2012, 19 (all races) so far).

    It’s amazing how reliable Raikkonen is this season, and the record of 18 has been matched by so many others this year; Massa (again), di Resta (again), Ricciardo, and Kovalainen! So also a reliable Caterham!

    Just thought I’d mention how good this season has been! New records being set, even by Kimi, who just returned!

    Also, suppose it rains, and Alonso wins. On the second to last corner Vettel makes an overtake up to fourth… reminds me of 2008! I really hope it rains! Alonso to win WDC!

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      I’m not sure where all the wet weather praise for Alonso is coming from.

      Yes his advantage in wet is quali, he tend to get more out of the car. His wet race performance is far from spectacular, there are plenty of drivers on a grid who are much better, even Vettel is very good wet weather driver.

      The only thing that pops out of my mind when I hear “Rain and Alonso” is endless crying about track being to wet to drive or it is too dark to drive.

      1. puffing says:

        “The only thing that pops out of my mind when I hear “Rain and Alonso” is endless crying about track being to wet to drive or it is too dark to drive.”

        This is an unnecessary remark, not based on facts and disrespectful to Alonso.

      2. Mylesw says:

        Actually, it is based on facts. Feel free to listen to the radio feed from Korea 2010, specifically. But more to the point, listen to any radio broadcasts during wet weather safety car periods, and you’ll most likely hear Button/Alonso complaining about the conditions, and Hamilton complaining that the race hasn’t yet restarted.

    2. Martin says:

      Pity Lotus stretched the tyres too far in China otherwise Kimi would have scored in all of them too.

  19. DMyers says:

    James, you forgot about Imola – meaning there were two anti-clockwise circuits on the calendar ;-)

    1. Dave Aston says:

      Isn’t Imola clockwise?

      1. Dave Aston says:

        Good grief, my mistake…

    2. JohnBt says:

      The word Imola kinda saddens me, I think you know why.

  20. Andrew Barker says:

    All these people who want a wet race remember this is Brazil !! you never know it could be a total washout what an anti climax that would be.

    Kind Regards

    Andrew

    1. JohnBt says:

      Interlagos has always been exciting somehow.

      1. Andrew Barker says:

        It has always seems to be plenty of action there just like in Canada 2 great circuits with a brilliant atmosphere.

        Kind Regards

        Andrew

  21. Ben G says:

    Go Fernando…

  22. Chromatic says:

    James can I ask a question-
    Does a new gearbox give a performance advantage over one already used in several races? What’s the average life span, and how many gearboxes are allowed in a season ?

    1. Andrew Halliday says:

      That’s 4 questions!

    2. Darren says:

      Don’t know if it gives an advantage, I wouldn’t have thought so. A gearbox has to last 5 races so 4 are allowed over the course of a season. I had a read of the rules after the Massa debacle from what I gather a gearbox has to last 5 consecutive races, if it requires a replacement before it has done 5 then a 5 place grid penalty is imposed, apart from the first time you need a new one, you get that without penalty. Theres something about a “race” counting as a P3, quali and the race, so I take that to mean that you can change it in P1 and P2 without penalty. Heres the rules.

      http://www.formula1.com/inside_f1/rules_and_regulations/sporting_regulations/8689/fia.html

      I think it is a ridiculous rule, fair enough your allowed 5 a season but the teams should be able to put in a new one any time they like without penalty (like they do with engines) so long as they dont go over their allocation for the season of course. If it breaks during quali then they should be able to put in a new one for the race providing that they use the same ratios etc so they cant gain an advantage, that cant be too hard to police.

    3. Martin says:

      The gearboxes are meant to last four race weekends as the teams are allowed five per car over the season. Most teams just run them consecutively through the races. If there is a failure the five place grid drop allows you to add another gearbox. I’m not sure if an exchange is required or if in Massa’s case he has a choice of fresh gearbox for Brazil. The teams have to nominate 30 gear ratios to get them through the season, so the gears within the gearbox can be changed.

      As gears wear, you can get fractional power losses through increased friction, but with new gears within the gearbox and fresh oil for the bearings, the drop would be minimal to immeasurable in terms of lap time.

      Cheers
      Martin

      1. Chromatic says:

        Thanks Darren and Martin. I note from your last para that a slight loss, however small, can be incurred.
        So far as I know ALO and VET, and Kimi, are on their last allocation with no recent changes … unless Vettel had a new gearbox installed in Abu Dhabi

  23. richardc says:

    I really don,t know why everyone thinks Alonso is doing so great???? He had the run of the green at the start of the season and has managed to lose a large points advantage! Ferrari have one of if not the largest budgets and have failed to develop their car at the rate of the others. Is this the record of a championship winning team, I think not! Hope it pours down and LH wins the race with Jb bringing home another 2nd place.

    1. Benalf says:

      he’s done a very good racing job…that’s why he’s getting paid for. Regardless of what’s going to happen in Brazil, I think Fred excel this season and he’s a deserving runner-up. He did a superb job during most of the season and his incredible 40pt advantage should have been more than enough to clinch the DWC even though he never had the fastest package. Unfortunately, Ferrari’s disgrace has not only been his incapability to solve the DRS-aero unstability during qualy, the lack of downforce, and problems with certain type of tires. Surprinsingly for me, the engineers have been unable to solve ANY of those problems. Vettel has dominated the season so far, the only problem has been reliability. Fred, on the other hand has enjoy reliability but the two DNFs screwed his season very badly and to top it off, since Spa, the uncommon trend of many drivers winning races stopped opening the door for Vettel’s comeback.
      It’s not about loving or hating a driver; negative comments against Fred, Seb or Hamilton are totally unfounded and very likely unfair. . . juvenile at least

    2. yugin says:

      Alonso’s been doing a fantastic job in an underperforming car; why his car can’t match the Red Bulls is another matter. No one’s saying that Ferrari deserve the constructor’s championship.

  24. Thanks for all of the good stuff. On another ilssue, though, haven’t seen any comments or questions about this issue from back in Austin: When MS nearly ran JB ino the fence (perhaps the “true character” showing yet again ?) was there any review or scrutiny of that manuever going into T-1?

    Thanks again for a great season.

  25. Robert N says:

    James,

    are you already in Brazil? What is the local weather forecast? f1.com currently seems to think it will be dry on Saturday (33 degrees) with rain possible on Sunday (20 degrees).

    Cheers,
    Robert

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, It’s a lovely day here, very warm,

      It’s forecast rain Saturday and Sunday but it could come at any time and as I said in the preview, the timing will be the key as to whether it’s a lottery or not

  26. Methusalem says:

    I think we’ll have 2010-final-reloaded in São Paulo. Only this time Alonso surprising us — who will be indirectely assisted by Hamilton, Petrov and Kartekyan.

  27. All revved-up says:

    I’ll be happy to see either driver win. Both are great drivers. Both are self absorbed – Seb and his Narain comments, Alonso and his McLaren tantrums – parking his car in the pits so that his teammate misses qualifying!!

    I look forward to an exciting finish to the great season. It would be a real shame if it ended under the safety car. I’d like to see a rule like in tennis. This is the fifth set in a grand slam – no tie breaks. If there is a safety car, the race will not end behind the safety car. Everyone gets to refuel, and the whole field reassembles for a 10 lap shoot-out!

  28. Tim B says:

    Should be an interesting weekend :-)

    Surprised RB didn’t run the new alternator in Webber’s car at Austin. The alternator seems to get hotter in the RB (presumably due to packaging), so the fact that the other Renault teams have used it successfully isn’t a guarantee.

    James – do you know if any of the other Renault teams have had alternator failures this season?

    Vettel definitely in the box seat, though. RB have been better than Ferrari on strategy the last couple of seasons, and since they only have to cover Alonso you’d back them to get the calls right in changeable conditions. Ferrari will be hoping Pat Fry gets an opportunity to do what they hired him for.

    Let’s hope for a tense race where Vettel gets out of position and has to work to get into the points position he needs.

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I recall Lotus had one not long ago

    2. David Goss says:

      It was Grosjean in Valencia, not too many laps after the same thing happened to Vettel.

      1. Tim B says:

        Thanks!

        Chances are it won’t be an issue, but no doubt RB will be very nervous.

  29. stefan says:

    Hello James, sorry for this off-topic question, but could someone tell me what is the precise distance between each starting position on the F1 grid? There must be official FIA’s regs sorting this topic, aren’t there? Thanks!

    1. James Allen says:

      Off the top of my head it’s 9 metres +/- 1 metre

      1. stefan says:

        Thanks a million, James.

  30. JR says:

    And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard,
    it’s a hard, and it’s a hard,
    And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

    :)

    Just hope Alonso can do it, his 3rd WC has been well deserved for a long time now.

  31. Andy says:

    James, I have heard that the HRT factory closed this week, I am assuming HRT will be in Brazil. Is the team in that much trouble?

    1. James Allen says:

      Yes, I’m afraid so. Looks like the game might be up. Redundancies etc

      I don’t think you will see them on 2013 entry list

      1. Simmo says:

        Bring in Lola Cars then?

      2. Andy says:

        Bad times :-(

        I always feel sorry for the underdog. Could Stefan GP be making an appearance? maybe Pro Drive?

  32. JB says:

    I want Vettel to win this because I believe he deserves the title. I could go on about the endless number of reasons but there is only one that matters, my heart tells me Vettel FTW.

    All I wish for a fair race this weekend. No dirty tricks from Ferrari or Alonso and that includes summoning Massa to help out. If you want to win, win it like a genuine champ.

    1. JR says:

      If you want a fair race so desperately please don’t forget to tell the Toro Rossos to race Vettel too, just in case.

  33. Jey says:

    “Especially with his record of making things happen for himself”

    Really???Well the recent history doesnt augur well for him,isnt it.Two times before he was almost in a similar situation.2007,when he was behind the championship leader by 4 points.2010 ,when he was in a much better position leading by 8 points.

    Both times,we all knew what happened.

    Yes,he is a very good driver,but sometimes cant help feel if the media(you included)have projected him much larger than he actually is.And he isnt inspiring any confidence after the show he put up at COTAS.He was completely outdriven by Massa.

    Well one can argue,he ended up in the podium.Even with entire Ferrari throwing its might behind him,he still couldnt muster a drive that is worthy of a championship contender.Massa was outstanding there.And now we go to Interlagos where Massa normally does very well.My money is on Seb,if it comes just to the drivers.But if that Renault alternator decides to have a say,maybe,just maybe :-)

  34. anon says:

    I’ve got to think that there’s a 75% chance that Vettel has this thing in the bag, a 15% chance that Vettel retires (and Nando will undoubtedly be on the podium), and a 9% chance that weather wrecks havoc enough to shuffle the order around _that_ significantly (for Vettel to lose the title). And the last 1% chance that Massa (or Lewis, or god forbid, Webber) screws up the party for Vettel, hah.

  35. Adrian Newey Jnr says:

    James – out of interest, how do you compare the RBR run over the past few seasons to Williams at its peak?

    I think this is where Sebs detractors are coming from.

    1. James Allen says:

      Look back at 1992/3 and Williams had a much bigger performance advantage than RBR have had. Last year they executed a tactic very well, but the gap to the next car was usually only a few tenths. The Williams active car was on a different planet

      1. Peter C says:

        Yes, that Williams was amazing……..But people then (from my recollection anyway) didn’t rubbish drivers & say ‘Useless driver, but had the fastest car’ as is happening so musch now.

        Those comments are so tedious & I think it’s very encouraging that you are taking a firm line on moderation.

        Since you have mentioned the ‘active’ Williams, I think that one of the problems is that many commenters have little or no interest in F1 even 10 years ago, so the 80′s & 90′s don’t exist for them, although the cars of 2012 were directly developed from those years.

        The main difference in opinions about 92/3 and today is that there was no internet then. Now everyone has an opinion, often stated as FACT.

      2. Liam in Sydney says:

        The difference is that Mansell had an entire career to display his prowess as a great driver, who also lucked into driving the ’92 car that was ‘on another planet’.

        Seb? We have not seen him do too much that special while driving in a STR. Particularly in the dry.

        Seb still has plenty to show us when his car is not that great. Look at this year… he hardly set the world on fire for the first half of the season. Alonso was far better in a similarly performing car.

  36. Mansfield says:

    Over the past two races, BBC and SkyF1 TV commentators (post race) have said how great Fernando is etc.

    Now, with Seb’s 13 point lead going into the final race, I noticed that all the praise is now for Seb and how great a racer he is. Little mention of Fernando.

    All the pundits, KNOW, that based on Sebee’s lead, plus recent form, he will win the championship. Despite Damon’s attempts to add some spice to what seems to be a foregone conclusion.

    Fernando will be second, and ppl are already starting to forget who was second.

    It’s not looking good. The glass is half empty for this Ferrari fan up until the start of the race. And probably empty by the end of it.

    1. Kimi4WDC says:

      Build a Championship worthy car from the start of the season, that would be the answer for Ferrari. They build a reliable car, which gave them most benefit when “leaders” were not scoring the points. But not fast enough to start closer to the front to have the best shot at the wins.

  37. JohnBt says:

    Now that the race is down to the wire it would be awesome with some rain thrown in, one or two safety car periods and lots of mayhem and rushing especially for Vettel and Alonso. I’ll be watching out for Massa too as SD said he could be vital for Nando’s championship. Also not forgetting the ticking time bomb.

    BRING IT ON BRAZIL!!!

  38. Eduan says:

    In the midst of all this championship battling which is great to watch , we must not forget that one of the greatest drivers is leaving us. If the weather forecast is correct and it rains i really hope Schumacher will be sent off with a good result.

    If it is dry i doubt it

    James are you going to do a piece on Schumacher?

  39. Matt W says:

    I wonder if it is really wise to have the final race held at Brazil where quite often the race becomes a bit of a lottery. Don’t get me wrong, it provides for an absolutely thrilling race but after 18 or so races it feels a bit bizarre to have the championship decided on something akin to the flip of a coin. I’d much rather the championship be decided at a more standard venue, and perhaps Austin would be better placed in future years to hold the finale.

    I love Brazil and at any other spot on the calendar it is an excellent venue, but the problem you get with the lottery finale is that you can only really get the championship tarnished like in 2008 where people claim Massa was robbed or that Lewis was lucky.

    1. Simmo says:

      No, it is right, otherwise we have Abu Dhabi, where nobody could overtake, or US, which is good, but again, overtaking is interesting.

      In 2008 the fact that it was still a mystery with 5 laps left of the race was amazing!!

      1. Simmo says:

        OOPS! *Overtaking is difficult in the US.

  40. bav says:

    I’m not a huge fan of Vettel but there are way too many people hating on him, including some of the other drivers. Yes he may have the quickest car but end of the day he damned if he does, he’s damned if he doesn’t. All this talk about what Alonso would do if he was in the red bull. He’s not and you have no way of proving he would do a better job. We all know he can’t do battle with a competitive team mate (2007). No doubt he will bark on about how slow his car is for the rest of his contract with Ferrari.

    1. Duncan says:

      +1 mate

    2. Darren says:

      I agree with you to a certain extent, your absolutely right we have no way of proving what Alonso would do in a Red Bull. The only people you can compare them to are their team mates. Alonso has comfortably beaten every team mate he has had apart from Lewis Hamilton which I think says more about how fast Lewis is than Alonso. Vettel usually beats Mark Webber who has also beaten his previous team mates and is generally regarded as being pretty fast. From that I think it is fair to deduce they are both pretty quick.

      I think Alonso is driving now better than he ever has done, a brilliant combination of speed and aggression with calculated racing reminiscent of Senna in his later years. Vettel has an uncanny ability to go faster than anyone else on cold tyres which allows him to build a lead at the start or after a re start, get out of DRS danger and manage the gap from there. He has also shown that he can race. I don’t understand the people that say he can’t race, Jim Clark was renowned for preferring to win from the front and being uncomfortable chasing people, was he a bad racer? No I didnt think so.

      I don’t subscribe to the Alonso can’t handle a fast team mate nonsense either, Lewis did not beat him in 2007 they drew on points and both had a very strong season. What Alonso couldn’t handle was that he went to Mclaren expecting no1 status, to be fair to him that’s not entirely unreasonable is it? He was a back to back and reigning world champion and his team mate was to be a rookie, abliet one with the finest talents of this generation but we weren’t to know that at the time. He then spat the dummy about this over the course of the season about not even getting preferential treatment but about Hamilton getting the preferential treatment (remember the “We are racing Fernando”) he thought this was hurting his championship chances, which to be fair it was. However Mclaren remained supposedly fair to both drivers and as a consequence lost the championship. He didnt do himself any favours over his threatning to blow the whistle over “spy gate” though. Im rabbling but either way I don’t think its fair to say he cant cope with a fast team mate, I’m pretty sure he has said Lewis was his favorite team mate as he was such a challenge to beat (or was that Lewis)?

    3. JR says:

      “We all know he can’t do battle with a competitive team mate (2007)”
      If you consider losing the WC by one point and scoring the same points as your team mate despite having your team racing against you (as confessed by Ron Dennis) is not battling enough…

  41. AENG says:

    James,
    If bad weather hits racing day, do you think it could favour RBR alternator? i mean lesser overheating, or I don’t know whether it does have something with temperature to do?

  42. Antti says:

    How upsetting would it be for there to be torrential rain, causing Vettel to retire, Alonso winning, but the race being stopped before 75% of the distance has been covered, only giving Alonso 12.5 points…

    1. Lewis says:

      In an ideal world, that would be Karma.

    2. DK says:

      Brilliant !

  43. Jim says:

    Nice article. It would be nice to see the legends and Y axis units in the chart (it’s NOT a graph, as referred to in the article) so we can understand the data more fully.

  44. David Newsome says:

    James, recently you did a brilliant analysis of the German papers on Schumacher, and I seem to remember one about the Italian papers on Ferrari.

    I’d love to know what the respective press are making of the title decider. Can you put some choice Italian ones on here?

    Thanks for another season’s worth of everyday reading!

    David

  45. Jake says:

    As I am not an Alonso fan nor am I Vettel fan. I will be able to sit down and watch the race totally chilled out and relaxed.
    Hamilton for the win-only fair given his terrible luck this year.
    Alonso second.
    Massa enters the home straight seventh with Vettel close behind but slows down just before the finish line to let Vettel take seventh place. Massa drives past the Ferrari pit wall with his finger up, Vettel style, only a different finger.
    Pure class.

  46. Gul says:

    I predict Hamilton will split Vettel and Alonso, then his car will break down and then well we shall see :) ….I cant wait for the race! Hope it is a deserving final to a fab season!

  47. Robert says:

    We know for a fact that Massa is running in this race to help Alonso.

    But what about Webber? Will Webber pull to the side to let Vettel through if that will win Vettel the title?

  48. Mike says:

    I have to be honest from the start and say that I would prefer the title decider to include Lewis. I think he has done enough, as a driver, to deserve to be in the mix this weekend. It is, though, down to the the number 1 drivers sitting in the cars built by the teams who have done a better job, one way or another, this season to fight it out. Of the two, whoever walks away with the most points after 20 races will deserve the title. There is more to winning a WDC title than qualifying pace, driving and racing ability. They have to play the whold game: Being in the right team, preferably with a number 2 driver (by choice or not), the right car, designed to maximise any advantage from that years changing F1 rules. They have to have a little more luck on their side over the 20 races. The best driver doesnt always win, but that is what makes it interesting, exciting and frustrating to watch, in my opinion. Every driver on the grid would like to be sat in the fastest car, designed by the best designer and with the best team around them, including an inferior team mate. It has always been that way. At the moment Vettel is the one who has that position, next year it could be him again, maybe Alonso… 2014?

    All that said, if it is possible I would like to see Alonso take his third WDC this weekend. It is a long shot and will need some mistakes from Redbull but strange things can happen under pressure when the winning line is in sight.

    Lewis for win 22 this Sunday.

  49. Zlatac says:

    Funny (maybe) twist on the article title-”You all need to know about crucial Brazilian F1 title decider”

  50. Nuno says:

    As an F1 fan I’m just looking for another great (and competitive) GP, if possible as a good one as we had in Austin. Every race was crucial, and that means that we had a really competitive championship. And there was more than Alonso, Hamilton and Vettel, and that was good. I like the action in the middle field. More often than not the best racing is just there.

    It doesn’t matter mush who will win, even if I think that RBR should take both titles.

    Ferrari suffered with a slow and tricky car during all the season. McLaren had a nice car but they had too many failures due to poor reliability, bad pit stops, etc.

    RBR victories in both championships is a logical result and a deserved one. Again…

  51. Elie says:

    I would not at all be surprised if Lewis wins this race. What better way to finish his career with Mclaren.

    I would wet myself if Fernando finished 2nd and Sebastian just jumps into 7th on the last corner.

    I’m sick of Ferrari and Fernando continually complaining about how slow their car is..and rightly or wrongly how great driving has kept them in the hunt. I would add Fernando had his fair share of luck in the start of year and full credit to both he and Ferrari for taking every opportunity when they did.As much as I’m no fan of either team. I really believe Red Bull got on with the job far better & fully deserved the constuctors title. I think Lewis after this weekend may prove to be the guy that deserved this years championship more than both in team that performed 3rd best.

  52. Anup Kadam says:

    Hi James,
    According to you who should win the championship…Vettel or Alonso…
    I was is and always will be Fernando Alonso supporter…but just wanted to hear from you…
    Fernando has always proved why he is the best driver on the grid..Even most of the pundit`s of F1 rate him the best..

    1. James Allen says:

      Both deserve it, it’s a massive one : 3x WDC, major bragging rights for whichever gets it.

      I think most people in F1 have been amazed that ALO has got himself in this position given how bad the Ferrari was in winter testing and early races.

      But you have to admire VET & RBR – the man and the machine because at the end of the day maximising that combination is what it has always been about

      So I don’t mind who wins and will be very happy with either

  53. Peter C says:

    Isn’t the alternator on the Renault F1 engines made in Italy (Magneti Marelli)?

    This may suppose ANOTHER conspiracy theory.

    I had various Renaults, but I don’t remember them being F1 – anyway, none of them worked properly in the wet. Electrical problems.

    What electrics do Ferrari use? The same,I imagine.

  54. F1addicted says:

    Why would anyone bother with this ‘you can’t say this about Vettel’?

    Even if you love Vettel, let them say what they want.

    I love Hamilton but I won’t stop – or disagree with – anyone who says he is not good in any way.

    That is a magical thing called THEIR OPINION.

    To the race – it is all valiant to mention the possibilities but anything that can happen to A can happen to V.

    The Ferrari has been reliable but it doesn’t mean a simple puncture can’t take Alonso out.

    The weather or race incidents are totally 50-50 and shouldn’t be seen as something that could help Alonso to the tune of 14 points.

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