Posted by Carrot on November 7, 2010 | No Comments
1 race, 4 contenders, 24 points. That’s all that’s left in the battle for the 2010 Formula 1 World Drivers’ Championship after Red Bull put in a dominant performance in Brazil to force the fight to continue to the final race of the year.
Red Bull were supreme at this track, capitalising on the pack being caught behind pole sitter Nico Hulkenberg in the opening stint, the two Red Bull drivers walked into the distance to dominate the race. The six second advantage winner SebastianVettel had over third placed Fernando Alonso doesn’t tell the whole story, the late safety car wiping out the massive lead the two Red Bull cars had built and maintained over the distance. The 1-2 finish wrapped up the Constructors’ Championship for the team, many congratulations to them for this achievement against legendary teams such as McLaren and Ferrari. Internally the pressure is only going to increase in that team, there might be all smiles in the post-race victory photographs, but with both drivers wanting the crown and now relieved of the burden of having to ensure the team wins the constructors’ battle, it’s going to be a frosty garage in the desert heat of Abu Dhabi.
At the British Grand Prix Alonso told his team that they’d win the championship, I wish I’d asked him for some lottery numbers at the same time. He now goes into the final race of the year with an eight point advantage over Webber. If Alonso finishes second in Abu Dhabi, he wins, regardless of who actually finishes on the top step of the podium. A single second place is all he needs to win his third World Championship. The race today was just what he needed, Red Bull in the wrong order (as far as he’s concerned) and a comfortable race ahead of the McLarens to preserve his weak stock of used engines.
McLaren ended up 4th and 5th today to end their constructors’ ambitions and all but end their drivers’ title hopes. Jenson Button is now mathematically out of contention and 24 points down, Lewis Hamilton needs his three rivals to fall off the track and win in order to claim the championship. For months I’ve spoken about the great McLaren development machine, today proves it has failed. Unable to get back on form with Red Bull’s raw speed and Ferrari’s massive improvement in the second half of the season. Next year on new tyres may be better for the Woking squad, this year is already finished for them.
Michael Schumacher continued his recent impressive form, bringing the Mercedes home in 7th, just behind team mate Nico Rosberg. Mercedes GP are now assured of fourth place in the constructors’ standings. The former Brawn team, who won both titles 12 months ago, will be looking for better results next year. Pole sitter Hulkenberg brought the Williams home in 8th, an excellent performance this weekend from the rookie driver. In recent races there has been talk of him losing his seat next year, after a qualifying session where he was 1.1 seconds faster than the nearest competitor on basis of pure skill in difficult conditions, I wouldn’t want to be the one taking that decision in the Williams team.
Rounding out the points were Renault’s Robert Kubica and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi. Renault seem to be lacking the pace they showed in the middle of the season when they were challenging Mercedes in the standings, with the German concern out of reach they might be considering moving all effort to next year’s car and giving up on the final race of the year. Kobayashi used the same long first stint strategy that worked for him so well in Valencia. Today it worked less well, but even the single point is much more than we expected from Sauber after the first few races of this year.
Every year the racing is exciting in Brazil, and the improvements in drainage that were made after last year’s never-ending qualifying have certainly benefitted the track. Unfortunately the on-track action was overshadowed by events off-track. It’s been well reported in the British press of Jenson Button’s near run-in with an armed gang, but let’s not forget the Sauber mechanics who did actually get robbed at gunpoint. Safety at Formula 1 races is more than run-off areas and tyre barriers, it extends to any situation where personnel who are there to race could be in danger. If the Brazilian government and organisers can’t guarantee the safety of everyone visiting, whether fan, driver or mechanic, then we should be reconsidering if we should go racing there. I love the track, the crowd and the excitement of the Brazilian Grand Prix, but I don’t want anyone to be at risk on their way back to their hotel at night for the sake of a spectacle. The other local incident was the local prosecutor, who shall remain nameless to reduce the amount of publicity he gets, threatening Felipe Massa with prosecution should he move over for Alonso. I might have some sympathy with his stance if he wasn’t just headline hunting and he actually went through with a prosecution for the 2007 where Massa moved over to allow Kimi Raikkonen to win the championship. Let’s hope the Brazilian public remember his hypocrisy and egotism when he (inevitably) runs for elected office.
One week now remains of the 2010 Formula 1 calender. This time next week it’ll all be over and we will have a World Drivers’ Champion. Both Alonso and Vettel have a weakness in engine mileage, but the Spaniard remains in front in the standings. The short time between the races will allow the excitement to build as the drivers head straight from South America to the Middle East for Abu Dhabi’s final year as the season finale. Eighteen races gone, three drivers remain in one of the closest battle in Formula 1 history. Make a prediction, Alonso, Webber or Vettel, we’ll know in seven days.