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The F1 World Championship Fight: Analysis of the state of play
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The F1 World Championship Fight: Analysis of the state of play
Posted By: James Allen  |  26 Oct 2010   |  6:34 pm GMT  |  319 comments

Fernando Alonso’s win in Sunday’s Korean Grand Prix meant the 8th change of championship leader this season.

Alonso has been on a run of 133 points from seven races and returns to the summit for the first time since the Australian Grand Prix and he does so at a crucial time, with just two races to go. His lead over Mark Webber is 11 points, while Lewis Hamilton is 21 points behind and Sebastian Vettel 25 adrift.

It means he can clinch the title in Brazil if he wins the race and Webber finishes fifth or lower.

Basically it’s about booking your place in the final at Abu Dhabi. Alonso has already booked his place and is the only one who has; Webber, Hamilton, Button and Vettel have one last chace in Brazil to book their place.

Alonso: Delighted with Korea, but much still to do (Ferrari)


He is in the driving seat now, but neither he nor Ferrari are celebrating yet. As we saw on Sunday a lead can disappear very quickly with a non-finish, so Alonso still has a lot to do to win the title in his first season with Ferrari.

Reliability is one key area and it is well known that Ferrari are cutting it fine on engines. Failures earlier in the season mean that he has one engine for Brazil and Abu Dhabi, which has already completed the race in Monza, which he won.

“We cannot really have any problems, otherwise it is finished,” said team boss Stefano Domenicali on Sunday night.

Brazil is quite tough on engines, being at altitude and also featuring the long uphill straight to the finish line. To be competitive in Brazil the drag reducing F Duct rear wing is going to be vital and the more efficient systems will have an advantage.

Ferrari will also be hoping that Interlagos specialist Felipe Massa takes points off Alonso’s rivals. His podium in Korea will boost his confidence and in front of a now sceptical home crowd, he will want to avenge his hurt pride from the shame of letting Alonso through in Germany. Psychologically he will be a very interesting case study in Brazil.

Webber: Second retirement of season (Getty)


Red Bull are in an awkward position after Korea. Starting first and second on the grid they could not have dreamed that they would end the race with no points, giving McLaren a fighting chance of stealing the Constructors’ Championship off them and opening the door to Alonso and Hamilton in the Drivers Championship.

It was their first double retirement since the 2008 Australian GP, and their first failure to score a point in 22 races, showing what a consistent force they have become.

With two races to go, and one driver 11 points off the lead with the other 25 adrift, logic would suggest that the emphasis would go behind the leading driver, but Red Bull has made it clear that this will not happen.

Furthermore team boss Christian Horner expanded on his comments from last week on team priorities, when he said that the team would be built around Vettel for the future. Psychologically that is a tough thing for Webber to hear at this stage of the season.

Vettel hit reliability problems again (Getty)


However it must be remembered that Vettel’s car has now let him down while leading three times this year – Bahrain (where he finished), Australia and Korea. Webber in contrast has had just two retirements and both were accidents, in other words under his control.

Alonso will seek to exploit this uncertainty in the team, although if Vettel is still a similar margin behind after Brazil the situation may change a little in Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull should have an advantage in Brazil so a win there is vital for both drivers. Webber needs to finish ahead of Alonso in both the remaining races with a win in one of them. Vettel could do with winning both races to be sure, but even then he’ll need another car between him and Alonso.

Lewis Hamilton’s second place was surprisingly only his 2nd podium finish in the last 7 races, but it got him back into the fight, albeit needing Alonso to have a problem to get properly back on terms. He seemed very down after the race, disappointed that he let Alonso pass him after he’d nicked second place in the pit stops.

Hamilton: Disappointed after race (McLaren)


McLaren just haven’t quite got the pace at the moment. Hamilton had a run mid season as strong as the one Alonso’s been on lately, but they have not been able to sustain it.

They’ve been bringing developments to the cars, but these haven’t been making the impact they might have hoped, certainly they haven’t been as effective as the ones they brought to the car this time last year.

Button: Not on pace in Korea (Darren Heath)


Button had a poor weekend in Korea, especially on race day, his difficulties in getting the front tyres working in the cold, wet conditions were reminiscent of the end of last season. He is now 42 points behind Alonso, only nominally in the race, as it would take a pile up in Brazil eliminating all the other four contenders for him to get even vaguely back into contention.

Final point is that although Ferrari and McLaren have been here many times before, while Red Bull are in the championship fight properly for the first time, the two grandee teams are both under new management. For both Domenicali and Martin Whitmarsh, the honour of being put in charge of these great institutions comes with a pressure to deliver titles. Neither man will feel complete until he has won titles as team principal and justified his selection.

On that level, those two and Horner are all in the same boat.

“We will fight to the last corner of the last lap,” said a fired up Domenicali on Sunday night.

It truly is a wonderful championship battle this year.

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1

Err, James,

You seem t forget about those other two “retirements” of Seb Vet. Certainly under Seb’s control.

2

Red Bull would appear to rather Alonso wins the WDC than Webber! Vettel appears to be the only person thay want to win a WDC for them.

To be honest, if Webber wins, what happens in 2011? The “wrong man” is the defending champion? And the team is “built around Vettel”?

And if Webber doesn’t win, then he is unlikely to be motivated, knowing that if he beats Vettel then the team won’t really support him.

Webber to retire at the end of 2010 whatever?

Neil.

3

State of play

Please Mr. Allen Would you give a look to Autosport Magazine?

Ferrari team orders in Korea? am I wrong when I talk about English lobby in F1 trying to disrepute Alonso in a really bad way?

You only need 5 seconds to review the race to dismiss this lie, but it seems Autosport doesn’t have them.

4

Alonso will only win if the Red Bulls have more mechanical problems and/or Vettel won’t concede to Webber if it comes to that..

5

All you Alonso haters are going to have to face facts and come to grips with reality. Earlier this season, he, and his team, made some crucial mistakes and it put him behind in the championship title run. Lately, he is back in form. The botched pit stop in Korea almost set him back, but Golden Boy’s mistake set things right.

Fernando will only lose this title if he makes a mistake or parts fail.

6

The last two races will be very interesting. I’m quite disappointed at Hamilton’s lackluster performance this 2010. I’m still a fan though. Hope he gets more points and more confidence at the Brazilian GP.

7

Jack Brabham,one of Webbers biggest supporters has said Mark has blown the WDC.

I still can’t believe he would make such a rookie mistake in such an important race.

He may start driving like he did earlier in the year now the pressure is off him.

I still can’t bring myself to watch the rest of the race yet, I’m still mourning.

8

I am glad to see James pointed put that Vettel’s car has died 3 times on him mechanically. Whereas, Webber’s 2 DNF’s have both been his own doing by wrecking.

9

What difference does it make…..

10

vettel also has 2 non finishes via his own mistakes – turkey and spa.

11

Interestingly…

If both remaining races end as:

1) Vettel

2) Webber

3) Alonso

Then Alonso takes the title. But if the RedBulls get two 1-2’s and each driver wins once, Webber gets the WDC.

It would be interesting to see if RBull can keep their ‘No Team Orders’ philosophy under such circumstances..

12

James just a quick one. If Webber weighs the same as Vetell do you think that he would have out qualified him in Suzuka and Korea as they were that close in times? The cars are the same weight but being lighter and smaller was always a bonus I ma lead to believe.

13

The margins are so small, he believes that this is the case

14

Funnily enough I was looking at the picture of the five of them sat on the pitwall for that picture.

Jenson is pretty tall compared to a lot of the drivers, and Mark is like a giant isnt he.

Presumably even though the total weight is no more (as Mark has less balast in his car), being able to place it low down and where you want it must offer a better balance opportunity.

I’m putting my neck on the line here…. Webber is going to be WDC. Come on Mark!

15

another person putting their neck on the line, we have a comment section full of brave warriors

16

I read something that MW is six foot two inches and weighs in at 158lbs…not sure if that is correct, and cannot for the life of me remember where I read it…..wish they would print the drives specs in NONE metric…once:)

17

I have a feeling Hamilton is going to payback Ferrari for stealing the championship in 2007. I had this situation in my mind from mid season and could not see it happening but it looks like everything is playing into his hands…. Watch this space everyone who thinks it’s between the red bulls and Alonso

18

The only problem with your theory, it means LH must catch the Ferrari.

19

Not a problem, it’s been one of those seasons and what a spectacular end that would be (even more spectacular if Jensen did it)

20

That would be good for him.

21

If massa is in a better position regarding engines, what is to stop alonso & massa swapping cars ? I believe engines are alocated per car number for the season … . .

22

That would be dumb. Each driver is given 8 engines, period. And drivers can switch car numbers

23

Earlier in the season Ferrari gave Massa a new contract and then moved him over for Alonso.

Does any one think that Horner was codedly saying we will build a team around Vettel in the future but for the next two races he is Webber’s wingman? A carrot for him to be able cope with having to say goodbye to the championship this year.

Just a thought

24

That’s an interesting theory. I hadn’t even thought of it that way.

Not if good old helmut has anything to do with it.

I think Dietrich wants to win at all costs behind closed doors, so it will be fascinating won’t it.

The intrigue of it all. And having so many team mates in the title mix just makes for great debate on this forum.

As an aside, and as someone who had followed this forum pretty much from the beginning of this site, it would be great to see the moderator not have to spend their time deleting offensive nicknames and words that some people seem insistent on putting in their posts….let’s keep the debate at a higher level than name calling. That’s why most of us enjoy this forum.

25

It didn’t sound like it from what i heard but it would seem a reasonable deal IF it had been dne earlier.

Mark is no idiot and knows vettel is the rising star and that he has for himself 2010 and 2011. in 2012 Redbull has to promote one of their young driver program otherwise that programs is pointless if it’s just to end up at toro rosso(much like if ferrari drivers academy would only lead to Sauber with no hope of driving an actual Ferrari)

So a deal like this would seem acceptable to me :

“ok mark, you are leading this year so seb will help you in 2010 and you will help him in 2011 in return”

the only problem is that such deal is accepatble if it means the team trusts you and not when it has no choice. Proposing this after brasil will not be a deal, it will be an insult (actually it was after SPA that this deal would have been ok)

now, they(RBR) can only hope Mark or Seb end up in front of Fernando , the only scenario that makes the “no number1” choice a good choice.

26

I’ll put my neck on the line and proclaim Webber the 2010 champion.

27

that is the bravest thing i have ever seen

28

James,

Do you think there is anything in the talk about about a possible link between group lotus and Buying Renault f1? I believe the link I’d through one of geniis stakeholders in petrochem.

Four lotus renaults on the grid next season 🙂

Probably also adds to the high court battle over team lotus! Anybody know the date at which that is due to be settled?

29

Not really. But I hope to have more on the Lotus story in a few weeks

30

I thought it was unlikely.

To me it seems fairly clear that lotus racing now own the rights to ‘team lotus’. The legal title was sold.

But then the high courts judgements can swing like a pendulum.

It will be good for both parties if it is resolved.

31

Jenson Button: “I’ve always said I’ll fight until it’s mathematically impossible for me”

He is 42 points behind. It seems to me that Button’s logic is that “this is less than 50, so I’m still in it”. Actually, to get the 43 points he needs to win means a second and a win with Alonso (and the others scoring no points). This is his minimum. A tie would of course see him with two wins less than Alonso, so he can’t win it that way either.

The sooner he accepts he is out of the championship, the better for McLaren. I’m amazed Button has hung on for so long, to be honest.

I don’t think he can help Hamilton, particularly; for the same reason Massa can’t really help Alonso: he’s almost guaranteed to be quite far behind him on pace and on the racetrack.

32

As many others, you are thinking that the only way for a teammate to help is by letting the championship contender driver (Alonso/Hamilton in their respective teams) through.

The fact is that if Massa/Button were to help their teammates, it would even begin in the factory.

Then the tests they carry out on Friday would be to help the driver in contention, from trying bits, to testing and choosing setups, to usage of tyres (the one not contending for championships would be using the most rubber, if needed).

Then Quali saturday is everyman for themselves.

The help a teammate out of contention would provide is more or less the one we see on the TV feed: try to get track position over rivals to disturb their race, and same for Sunday.

So, my point is that the help Massa or Button would be able to provide far exceeds what many are pointing out.

I am not sure how much it would be worth over a race distance, but I guess a lot.

That is why many are still ok with having a #1 driver in a team, it betters the show as in the years of Mika/Schumacher.

33

Hi James!

Off topic but just wondering if there is any truth in Jonathan Legard leaving the BBC team at the end of this year..

Cheers,

Rich

34

Yes, there are quite a few blogs on other sites about the Beeb replacing him, based on the fact that people find his commentaries both boring & annoying at the same time!

The main criticism is that he is more of a general sports commentator (I believe he did football) without specialised knowledge of F1.

Certainly his manic shouting (IT’S JENSON BUTTON, JENSON BUTTON IS GOING TO COME FIFTH/ TWELFTH,JENSON BUTTON HAS BEEN FORCED OUT BY VETTEL. or IT’S HAMILTON !!! Etc.

Names in the frame are Anthony Davidson, Karun Chandhok, but both are drivers & that’s Martin Brundle’s job. The most likely would be David Croft from FiveLive who is nearly always factually correct & doesn’t panic.

Others have been mentioned, although without much enthusiasm!

35

Sorry. P3 Certainly his manic shouting……..

is extremely annoying.

36

There seems to be a lot of fuss over Alonso and his engines. Such as his engine will suffer because of the altitude and the uphill straight.

At altitude the air pressure is lower. This means that the engine gets less air into it’s cylinders each revolution.

The air/fuel ratio must be kept constant otherwise the engine will not get it’s optimum performance. So less fuel is fed in.

Less fuel, less air means lower torque and lower horsepower, leading to less stress on the engine.

Less stress on the engine means less likelihood of it blowing up.

I am sorry if this upsets McLaren and Red Bull fans, but I would much rather see a clean run-in to the end of the championship than have it settled by whose engine blows up.

37

“I am sorry if this upsets McLaren and Red Bull fans, but I would much rather see a clean run-in to the end of the championship than have it settled by whose engine blows up.”

Engine blows up have already had an influence, not least in Korea so any more engine blow ups at either of the last two races is par for the course. That would still be a “clean run-in” more so than driver swaps mid way through the season when BOTH drivers still had a realistic chance of winning the WDC.

38

“Brazil is quite tough on engines, being at altitude..”

Is that true ?

I thought that running at altitude limited the amount of air you could get into the engine, and therefore the maximum power, so if anything, the engines are less stressed.

39

I’d assume less atmospheric pressure and air density would mean less effective air cooling in radiators?

But if I’m wrong someone will tell me 🙂

40

James,

As your banner changed before Korea ….

Are you still happy with your banner of Alonso / Webber / Vettel as the 3 contenders left in race ????

41

We have a very different one for Brazil..

42

Can I hazard a guess that the next banner for Brazil will feature Massa with Alonso?

43

Nope.

44

Am exited,

Can’t wait, I check banners every week 🙂

45

“Webber in contrast has had just two retirements and both were accidents, in other words under his control.”

Sorry to correct you, there has been three retirements. The accident with seb, the accident with kovalainen and the last one in corea.

46

My mistake guys, Web did finish the race. That’s makes only 2 retirements. Thanks for the correction.

47

Sorry to correct you, Webber finished in Turkey with P3.

48

Thats what i call a correction bombarment!!! hahah by the way, webber finished 3rd in Turkey

49

Webber survived the accident with Seb and finished 3rd in Turkey.

50

He didn’t retire after his “accident” with Seb in Turkey. He dropped from first to third behind the two McLarens and Seb retired from the race.

One of the most exciting races for the season at that point.

51

if you think turkey,i believe he did not retire :

http://www.f1-pics.com/turkey2010_race.jpg

52

Hi James,

Two of vettels issues were crashes too. When he drove into the side of messrs webber and button.

Had he not stuffed up those moves he would also be in a lot better shape.

I am massively looking forward to the races now.

P.s how was the Joe saward meeting. You said you were meeting him for a coffee in Korea.

53

very well said !

54
malcolm.strachan

Regarding team tactics, I was thinking about it the other day…

What is Red Bull’s main objective? To sell cans. The method they aim to achieve that objective is partially to win, but also to gain fans. Therefore, even if they let their drivers race each other to the end, and ensure there are no team tactics, there are many fans that would prefer that.

Assume Monster Energy Drink had an F1 team as well, but they were solely focused on winning both titles, and used team tactics from the fourth race of the season. That would anger many of people, and more fans would likely cheer for Red Bull over Monster. From that, Red Bull would likely sell more cans because their F1 involvement than Monster would. The principle works for any team, and their respective sponsors, even in non-competing industries. The basic fact is that if you gain more fans, your sponsor will sell more products or services.

Beyond the popularity aspect, I believe Red Bull should back both drivers. Given how Red Bull have had many DNFs from excellent starting positions this season, it would be silly for them to pull one driver aside for the other, as it would put that driver at risk of losing more points. With the larger gap in points between first and second, comebacks are easier now. If Webber screws up twice more, Vettel could win the title. If Vettel screws up twice more, Webber could win. If both screw up, Hamilton and Alonso could win.

With such uncertainty, why hurt one driver by preferring the other when that other driver is just as likely to throw it into a wall, crash into someone else’s sidepod, take out his teammate, or grenade his engine? It’s not like the Schumacher/Barrichello days, or late 90’s Hakkinen/Coulthard days, where they knew they were both going to finish, and they knew both were likely to be on the podium and definitely in the points for the next several races. Red Bull has had some serious ups and downs this season. Given that their drivers are so close, why make the mistake of backing the wrong driver if he ends up crashing or having a failure?

James, I agree with you that this year is awesome. In relation to the old points, the current tally is like the top four being within a mere TEN points of each other, and there are two races to go! I believe the shift to 25 points for a win has made many people think the gap is bigger than it really is. Kimi was 20 points behind with two races left in 2007 and won (which is the equivalent of 50 points in today’s scheme), so any of the top five have a shot, and the top four are all in a great position for the title.

55

I have a question regarding the moderation in this blog.

If a posting is deemed unfitting (i assume James is doing the moderation himself?), will i get notified via email?

I miss one of my postings in this thread…

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