Vettel vs Alonso: May the best man win
25 November, 2012
Nov.25 (GMM) Although McLarens hog the front row for the Brazilian GP, the focus is further down the grid as the 2012 Formula One World Drivers’ Championship reaches its zenith on race-day at Interlagos with a showdwon between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel.
“It was not a perfect lap,” Dr Helmut Marko told German RTL television, “but we don’t absolutely have to win this race, we need to look out for Alonso.”
Triple world champion Niki Lauda said that he senses a “slight nervousness” about Vettel in Brazil.
But Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, who needs to finish several places higher than his rival to have any chance of winning the title, qualified just eighth, three places behind his teammate Felipe Massa.
The Spaniard has however moved up to seventh due to Pastor Maldonado’s penalty, and it is now rumoured that Ferrari could pull out its Austin-style gearbox ‘trick’ to penalise Massa again and promote Alonso to sixth.
“That is not one of our decisions, so there is no need to lose a thought on it,” said Vettel.
It is however rumoured that Alonso has gambled on a more rain-oriented car setup, given the weather forecast for Sunday and his hopes for ensuing “chaos” at Interlagos.
“If I am to have any hopes for the title, it’s more plausible to count on a retirement for Vettel rather than for him to finish in a position where I can get ahead of him in the classification,” Alonso said.
He, and also Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali, denied that Massa could be tasked with taking team-play to extreme levels by ‘taking out’ Vettel.
“I’ve always been an honest person and an honest driver,” said Massa. “My limit is the limit of the regulations.”
And Vettel said he is not worried about being so close on the grid to Massa.
Vettel did admit that he is not expecting any help from his teammate Webber.
“We both drive our own races,” said the German.
To the dying moments, Alonso is still deploying ‘psychological’ tactics; the latest is the suggestion that Lewis Hamilton would be a tougher title challenger than Vettel.
“Winning against Hamilton in the same situation would be virtually impossible,” the Spaniard told Brazil’s Sportv television.
“Not only this year but throughout his career, he has showed that he can win both with a good car and a not-so-good car. But when Vettel is first, Mark Webber is second,” he added.
But at the end of the day, Vettel is the overwhelming favourite for Sunday.
“We don’t need good luck to win the title,” Red Bull team owner Dietrich Mateschitz told Salzburger Nachrichten, “we just need to not have bad luck.”
The title permutations are:
- Vettel need finish only fourth to be champion even if the Ferrari driver wins.
- Vettel can be champion before the race is finished if Alonso crashes out or retires at any point.
- Vettel has won five races so far this season to Alonso’s three, which means that a tie on points will hand the title to the German on race wins.
- Alonso must score at least 14 points if he is to be champion, which means he has to finish on the podium even if Vettel draws a blank.
- Vettel Wins if he finishes in top four.
- Vettel will be champion if he finishes seventh or higher and Alonso does not win.
- Ninth place will do for Vettel if Alonso is no higher than third.
- Alonso must finish on the podium to have a chance.
Subbed by AJN.