Red Bull takes F1 season down to the wire

Monday, November 8, 2010

SAO PAULO - Any hopes Fernando Alonso had of prematurely winning his third Formula One drivers’ championships were Sunday scuppered by the sheer dominance of Red Bull drivers Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber.

Going into the race on the Interlagos course here, Alonso looked overwhelming favourite to win the championship in his Ferrari, but after Sunday’s race the Spaniard is facing much more pressure ahead of the season finale in Abu Dhabi.

Alonso, who stands on 246 points, still has a lead, but it has shrunk to just eight points, with Webber second on 238. Even Vettel, who is on 231 points, still has a very realistic chance of becoming the youngest-ever drivers’ champion.

This season a win is worth 25 points, while the runner-up receives 18 points. A third-place finish is worth 15 points and in the event of drivers finishing on the same number of points the most number of race victories would be decisive.

It is here that Vettel’s chances become higher as he would overtake Webber by winning in Abu Dhabi, irrespective of the Australian’s final placing.

But the German, who has lost dozens of points with engine trouble and driver errors, needs Alonso to finish no higher than fifth if he wants to win his first title.

Arguably Webber is in the best position to win the championship as if Red Bull continue their dominance into Abu Dhabi and secure another one-two for the team, it seems unlikely that Vettel would not allow Webber the victory he needs to win the championship.

Provided, of course, that Alonso is placed higher than fifth and Vettel himself has no chance of winning the title.

After the race in Interlagos, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner once again said that there will be no team orders for the drivers.

“Ultimately it is their decision. Both drivers have a real chance of winning the title ahead of the last race,” said Horner, who saw Red Bull secure their first constructors’ title in Sao Paulo.

“Nobody has a crystal ball and can say what will happen in a week,” he said.

For many observers it would be poetic justice if Alonso would lose the title because Vettel deliberately lets his Australian team-mate pass - after all, Alonso himself won the German Grand Prix after his team-mate Felipe Massa was told to let Alonso pass.

Spain’s El Mundo newspaper sees the lack of direct team orders at Red Bull as an advantage for Alonso.

“Both drivers still have a chance to win the title. But that could help Alonso as he will win the title if he finishes second,” the newspaper report said.

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