Alonso can wrap up third F1 world title in Brazil

Thursday, November 4, 2010

SAO PAULO - Fernando Alonso can clinch a third Formula One world title at the Brazilian Grand Prix Sunday, and by doing so he would upstage the mighty Michael Schumacher.

Alonso won the 2005 and 2006 crown at the Sao Paulo race for Renault and can now provide a happy ending to an at-times chaotic debut season at Ferrari.

Schumacher won five of his record seven titles for the famed Italian team but took five seasons there to get the first.

Alonso takes 231 points into the second from last 2010 race to lead from Red Bull’s Mark Webber (220), Lewis Hamilton of McLaren(210) and Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull (206). Reigning champion Jenson Button of McLaren also has a mathematical chance on 189 points.

A victory is worth 25 points and Alonso would take the trophy ahead of the season-ending Abu Dhabi race Nov 14 if he wins and Webber comes no better than fifth. He can also clinch the title in certain scenarios by finishing second or third.

However, Alonso is taking nothing for granted and despite fond memories of the Interlagos track has never won a race there.

The Spaniard moved on top of the standings with an unexpected win two weeks ago in Korea after Webber crashed out early and Vettel’s engine blew late in the race while he was leading.

“I do not want to think about the chances of history repeating itself for a third time. I know it is theoretically possible, but that does not count for me. I have said it before and I say it again - we will do the maths in Abu Dhabi,” said Alonso.

“We want to tackle this Grand Prix in the same way as all the others, concentrating on ourselves with our feet on the ground, trying to do a good job, without making mistakes and with the aim of beating our rivals.”

Alonso won the season-opener in Australia for a dream Ferrari debut but then went through a drought to trail then leader Hamilton by 47 points after 10 races.

However, he has won four of the seven races since then and made the podium on two others to command the standings into the Interlagos weekend.

Despite being cautious, Alonso cannot hide his delight of returning to Interlagos where Brazilian team-mate Felipe Massa will have to drive in his support.

“Naturally, I have got great memories of this track because it was here that I secured my two titles, in 2005 and 2006. Every time I go to Sao Paulo it is a special feeling,” he said.

Alonso crashed out early in the 2009 race which Webber went on to win, and the veteran Australian will likely have to do the same this time around to keep his title bid alive.

“I obviously have good memories from last year, it was a nice race to win and we will clearly be trying to get another victory this year,” Webber said.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner said there would be no team order for Webber and Vettel, who have had the fastest car of the season but missed many points through mistakes and technical problems.

“We have two fantastic drivers and we will continue to support both equally in line with Red Bull’s credible sporting ethos. As we saw in Korea it is impossible to predict what will happen with five drivers being so closely in contention,” Horner said.

However, Red Bull will have to defy recent history as all world titles since 2005 have been decided in Interlagos, with Alonso top on 2005 and 2006, Kimi Raikkonen (whose place Alonso inherited at Ferrari) in 2007, Hamilton in 2008 and Button in 2009.

The action on the 4,309-kilometres track starts with two rounds of free practice Friday. Another practice and qualifying is Saturday and the race Sunday.

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