The 2012 Formula One World champion is Sebastian Vettel’s to lose. That’s the opinion of Sky Sports F1 commentator and Toyota WEC ace Anthony Davidson when chatting to Badger’s Leigh O’Gorman.
In this non-exclusive, the 33-year-old, who was definitely in Brackley this weekend and not Sao Paulo, indicated that while he believes Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso has been the most impressive driver this year, the Spaniard has tall order to overhaul Vettel.
Alonso initially qualified 8th for the Brazilian Grand Prix at the atmospheric Interlagos circuit; however a penalty for Pastor Maldonado will see the Ferrari hopeful start from 7th, but according to Davidson, Alonso still has a huge task ahead of him.
“He’s not in the fastest car, he’s not even in the 2nd or 3rd fastest car, but they seem to have reliability on their side. It may take an anomaly for him to win the title, which in turn can make you drive more aggressively, take more chances and in a funny way, the pressure can turn to the person who has the advantage.”
Davidson, an ILMC champion with Peugeot in 2011, has also experienced the pain of losing a title by a tiny margin and believes that the final outcome could be incredibly close by the end of tomorrow.
“I lost a championship in Karting by one point and it’s natural to look back on races where you should have done better, because you can’t really control what the driver you are fighting against does or doesn’t do, but you are in control of your own destiny.”
Vettel only needs a 4th place finish to claim his third world title and while the German has performed admirably during the season long slog, many may look to his stellar drive in Abu Dhabi – where he finished 3rd after starting in the pits – as the defining moment of the championship.
“The Abu Dhabi drive from Vettel – that really was a race where many people had written him off from scoring points and even my bet before the race was that he’d finish 8th. However, Davidson was also keen to reference the touch of luck that befell Vettel in the Middle Eastern state. ”It’s not that I want to dilute his efforts, but obviously he was helped out by a few safety cars, but it was still an impressive drive and on a track where it is very difficult to overtake.”
His main rival as also experienced some big moments in 2012, particularly in Spa-Francorchamps and Suzuka, where on both occasions the Ferrari man was taking out on the opening corner.
“He was wiped out of that race by Grosjean and I’m sure he would have scored points and at the start at Suzuka, he was on for a great race there, because the car had speed in the race, so he would have definitely scored points again, but you always look back.”
The pressure isn’t just on Vettel and Alonso though; both drivers may at some point need to call on the assistance of their teammates come the race, in spite of their opinions of the subject.
“Mark Webber is old enough and wise enough to know that Sebastian Vettel is good enough to win a championship by himself and doesn’t really need the help of Mark, but he’ll be there if the time comes.
“From Felipe [Massa’s] point of view, maybe it is a little bit different – it’s clearly a one-car team. Felipe has upped his game hugely since around the contract signing and I think he will have to play second fiddle for the sake of the team and for the sake of the championship, as we saw in Austin.” Davidson continued: “…but for Alonso it is probably increased pressure knowing that Vettel is strong around that track and I think he is facing an uphill battle.”
Regardless of who wins the title, the former Super Aguri driver believes that Alonso’s ability to extract everything from what has often been described as a sub-standard car has been the most impressive feature of what has been an exciting season.
“We all dream of winning in an inferior car, because it makes us look good. He’s really excelled this year and regardless of what happens in Brazil, this has been his finest year ever in Formula One. There’s something (…) making it lap as quick as it does or end up where the predictions didn’t expect and you can say that of all the drivers on the grid once or twice in a season, but Alonso has just been able to do it multiple times and that’s the impressive thing.”
Expanding on that thought, Davidson added: “There have been races on the calendar where he clearly shouldn’t have won the race – Valencia for example, but there were faster cars out there that didn’t finish, but he was there to capitalise and its much harder to keep your nose clean if you are fighting in the sharp end of the mid-pack as he’s been all season.
“It’s much harder to extract a result in that circumstance than to have the fastest car, qualify on pole and win the race, because you’re out of danger. As we saw in Suzuka, even Alonso isn’t immortal to that kind of scenario.
“Time and time again, he’s risen from a lowly position against all odds, kept his nose clean and came away with podium positions. That’s incredibly hard to do.”
Sebastian Vettel starts from 4th on the grid for the Brazilian Grand Prix, while Fernando Alonso will start from 7th. Vettel only requires a 4th place finish to claim his third World Championship; however with rain expected, a steady drive to the flag is anything, but assured.
Leigh O’Gorman is a friend of the Sett at Badger GP and the editor of the motor racing based website TheMotorsportArchive.com. When he’s not dribbling over a laptop at home or in an office somewhere, he is probably spending his time traveling all over Europe covering various Formula 3 championships, as well as GP2 and GP3, while also dabbling in things like Formula Ford. Throughout 2012, he was also the British Formula 3 correspondent for MotorsTV.com
Anthony Davidson is an expert analyst on Sky Sports F1 HD. Watch the Brazilian Grand Prix live on Sky Sports F1 HD, plus follow the race using F1 Race Control via the Sky Sports app for iPad.