Alonso or Vettel for 2012 WDC?
After the result of the Singapore Grand Prix, it looks like the challenge for the World Driver’s Championship is a two-horse race, but is it that simple?
Alonso has a fairly commanding lead of 29 points from Vettel now, but the Ferrari’s pace in recent races must be worrying for the team from Maranello.
With 6 races still to go Vettel needs to take 5 points on average out of Alonso’s lead at each of the remaining races to be crowned champion for a third successive season. That’s a tough proposition but with the way the development race is going towards the end of the season it’s far from impossible.
Alonso hasn’t won a race since the German Grand Prix back in July and the team has even struggled to be the second quickest at many of the races since then, Alonso’s podiums at Singapore and Italy were largely down to other people retiring ahead of him.
Luckily for Alonso, the Red Bull hasn’t looked the quickest car at several tracks either and it is really struggling with a low top-speed on the lower down-force tracks.
Had it not been for the botched pit-stops, mechanical failures and other drivers crashing into him then Alonso’s main rival, indeed championship leader would be Hamilton. The only other driver to have won three times this season, he has lost more than the deficit of 52 points he has currently to Alonso but he still has a chance of the title, albeit slim. The McLaren has shown itself to be the class of the field over the past four races, if only it were more reliable.
McLaren have apparently solved their problematic pit-stops and since Hungary they have been practically flawless and the quickest team on the grid to turn their cars around. The gear-box failure that Hamilton suffered while leading at Singapore and Button’s Hydraulic problem at Monza could conceivably be “one-offs” and it’s entirely feasible neither driver will suffer any more mechanical issues over the remaining races.
Alonso has yet to suffer a mechanical failure this season, Vettel had his at Valencia and so perhaps it’s the Spaniards turn for some kind of issue. The fact is that Alonso has never suffered a mechanical DNF during his entire 3 season career at the Scuderia so perhaps it’s now overdue.
Ultimately what will decide this season is how many points Alonso can salvage from each of the remaining races. I expect McLaren to continue to dominate as they have shown they are capable of winning at a variety of different tracks from the slow twisty Hungaroring to the flat-out straights of Monza. The question mark is how many other teams can beat the Ferrari, it’s unclear if Red Bull can mount a consistent challenge as they have shown weakness at certain tracks.
Lotus have gone backwards a little of late and not shown the form they did in the first half of the season, Sauber have shown flashes of genuine pace with Perez but Mercedes have been rather poor.
The title will be decided by the likes of Williams with Maldonado, Lotus with Raikkonen and Force India who genuinely pressured Alonso in the shape of Paul di Resta, if these people and the other usual “midfield” teams can regularly take points away from Alonso then that may allow Vettel and even Hamilton to catch him up.
I expect the season to go down to the last race at Brazil where Alonso will have a lead of somewhere approaching 15 points so while we won’t get a grandstand finish it should be interesting. Expect Massa to win that race as a fitting farewell to Ferrari and probably F1 with Alonso lifting the title at the end of the longest season in the sport’s history.