Fernando Alonso has F1 title in his own hands

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

BERLIN - Fernando Alonso has the championship lead on his side as he aims to clinch the Formula One (F1) world title in a historic finale Sunday in Abu Dhabi.

But in a season of roller-coaster rides for all the stars, Red Bull drivers Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel and McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton are also in the frame.

It is the first time in F1 history that four drivers are in the title race ahead of the season-ender.

A simple engine failure in Alonso’s Ferrari could for instance open the door for the others, he may be shunted off the track by another driver, make a mistake himself or have yet another negative experience with the safety car as has happened already three times this season.

However, Alonso has a third career title in his own hands as championship leader. He has amassed 246 points from 18 of 19 races, with Webber on 238, Vettel on 231 and Hamilton on 222.

Under the current system, the top 10 drivers get points in a 25, 18, 15, 12, 10, 8, 6, 4, 2, 1 format.

Alonso has done his maths and says “I just need to finish second. It does not matter who wins in Abu Dhabi if I finish second”.

The Spaniard can also afford third place if Webber does not win, and fourth or fifth if Webber and Vettel do not win.

Webber will secure the trophy if he wins and Alonso comes no better than third. A team order of sorts may be used if Vettel leads from Webber and Alonso in the final lap, as Ferrari also ordered Felipe Massa to let Alonso pass for victory at the German GP.

Vettel is on top if he wins ahead of Webber and Alonso places fifth at best.

This scenario would in fact produce a remarkable three-way tie on 256 points and Vettel would win the trophy because he has one fourth-place finish more than Alonso.

The podium place list of the top three in this case would be as follows: Vettel and Alonso 5-2-3, Webber 4-5-2.

Webber’s lead in overall podium finishes would be to no avail due to his lesser amount of victories. Alonso and Vettel would be tied but the German has three fourth-place results to Alonso’s two - from the Italian Grand Prix after a last-lap pit stop.

There are further possible scenarios of a first ever title decision by tiebreak, with Niki Lauda’s 1984 title by 0.5 points over McLaren team-mate Alain Prost the closest decision up to now.

Hamilton, meanwhile, appears too far off the pace, 24 points behind Alonso.

The Briton would only add the 2010 crown to that from 2008 if he wins, Alonso does not pick up points, Webber places no better than sixth and Vettel no better than third.

“We have seen many times before that almost anything can happen in the last race of the season. It will take a miracle - but miracles can happen,” said Hamilton.

Hamilton has seen both sides of the emotional spectrum in a season-ender, both times in Brazil.

In 2007, he and then team-mate Alonso were stunned by just one point by Ferrari’s Kimi Raikkonen.

The next year Hamilton pipped Ferrari’s Felipe Massa by one point when he salvaged the required fifth place by overtaking Timo Glock late in the final lap.

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