Monday, 19 November 2012

F1 Finale: Vettel vs Alonso

Things sure look interesting this weekend for the Brazilian F1 GP race at the Interlagos circuit. Sebastien Vettel is leading the championship by 13 points over Fernando Alonso. With the reliability and speed of his Red Bull, finishing ahead of Alonso should be a certainty and being crowned the youngest triple World Champion. However, unpredictability always plays a significant role in F1. Remember how Kimi Raikonnen won his world crown in 2007 at Ferrari at the last race, despite being the heavy underdog going into the last round of the championships, and Lewis Hamilton winning his world title practically at the last corner of the race to usurp Felipe Massa in the 2008 overall standings, and becoming the youngest world champion. Even while Jenson Button was with Brawn GP and having the fastest and most reliable car in 2009, he could only finished in the midpoints, being unable to overtake Kamui Kobayashi for most part of the race, ensuring the minimum points that was needed to crown him a world champion. 

Following into 2010, saw yet another world champion crowned in Vettel and at the same time replacing Hamilton as the youngest ever. He had an outstanding and commanding drive in 2011 which saw him overtake Alonso in being the youngest double world champion. Not satisfied by his own record being broken, Alonso challenged Vettel to see who will emerge the youngest triple world champion. And that leaves us to this weekend, where the coronation will take place.

The season started off with lots of unpredictability with as many as 7 different winners in as many race, no team was having any clear advantage to the new season. Ferrari was clearly off the pace but was still able to chalk up one race win in Malaysia where Alonso drove superbly in the wet. Moving into the European leg, Ferrari improved on their aerodynamics and gain ground on the big teams. Winning another 2 race in Europe put Alonso in the lead in the topsy turvy season. Mclaren had always had a better car but reliability issues kept forcing them out of contention until the last 3 races in Europe. While Red Bull was also plague by reliability issues, they still managed to gather important points along the way to put Mark Webber and Vettel in the running. Despite not having a competent car, Alonso’s consistency saw him maintain his championship lead going back to the Asian leg.

Moving back to the Asian fly away races, Red Bull found the sweet spot in their cars, especially Vettel, by winning four straight races to lead the current standings. Other than Hamilton having problems in bringing his car to the finishing line consistently, Vettel truly dominated the races in Asia. Point to note for Abu Dhabi, no doubt he did not win, he drove cleverly to drive from pit lane to finishing on the podium, thus only limiting minimum damage to his lead over Alonso. 

Speed and reliability may be the major factors in F1, however consistent driving and the willingness to take risks is what makes a driver great. Silently finishing third in the driver’s championship is Kimi, where he had managed to stay in third place since the second half of the season. He did not win any race until the Abu Dhabi, it is his consistent driving and aggression in race that won him consistent points to keep him in the hunt for world champion, until Vettel took over the lead from Alonso. Years back when Kimi was still with Mclaren, there was one season where he was challenging Michael Schumacher for the world title right up to the edge, and in that particular season, Kimi did not win any race at all. 

Vettel has been lucky with a good car for the past 3 years. He had also shown tremendous skills in getting the best out of the cars with his world title to show. Alonso is the experienced guy who can make a slow car go fast. The odds are stacked against Alonso, however will there be another thriller to the last race of the season? When Hamilton overtook in the last corner to deny Massa a world crown in 2008, it broke my heart. I do hope some dramatic finish will happen and this time I won’t be heartbroken with Alonso painfully missing out.

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