The superb 2010 Formula One world championship will go to four-way decider at the season finale in Abu Dhabi after Sebastian Vettel’s commanding win in yesterday’s Brazilian Grand Prix.
The German led a Red Bull one-two that sealed a well deserved constructors’ title for the Milton Keynes-based outfit and kept both himself and team-mate Mark Webber very much in contention for the drivers’ crown. Badger would like to extend a hearty well done to Christian Horner, Adrian Newey and everyone at the team for their success.
Vettel got a good start from second on the grid, passing surprise pole-sitter Nico Hulkenberg in to turn one. From then on he didn’t look back and faced no real challenge for the win. Webber also found his way past the Williams on the first lap and chased Vettel all the way home, but never came close to making a move. We shudder to think what might happened if he had done.
Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso came home a slightly lonely third. The Spaniard took longer than the Red Bulls to clear Hulkenberg and found himself ten seconds in arrears of the Renault-powered cars when he did so. From there he drove a measured race to the final podium spot, pegging Webber in the final few laps but not getting close enough to worry the Australian. He remains in the driving seat for the title.
Fourth went to McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton. The Brit failed to make a move on Hulkenberg and lost a large chunk of time to his title rivals. He eventually leapfrogged the Williams in the pits but did not have the pace to catch those running in front of him.
The result leaves Alonso top of the standings entering the final race, eight points clear of Webber. Vettel is a further seven shy of the leader, creating the possibility of a tricky balancing act for the Red Bull hierarchy at next weekend’s race – though the team have already said they’ll leave such decisions down to the drivers. Hamilton trails Alonso by 24 points meaning he will need to win in Abu Dhabi with the Ferrari failing to score points and both Red Bulls finishing down the order to take the title. Lewis summed up his chances pretty accurately post-race: “realistically, we need a miracle.”
Meanwhile Jenson Button’s bid to retain his world title ended as he came home fifth. The McLaren man actually drove a strong race to finish six places ahead of where he started but his efforts were ultimately fruitless. He now looks certain to end the year fifth in the standings.
Qualifying star Hulkenberg came home eight after losing out during the pit stops but did plenty to boost his reputation. His pole lap on Saturday was impressive, and watching him hold off a pair of world champions in Alonso and Hamilton was one of the highlights of the race. All he needs now is a drive for next year.
Also registering points were the Mercedes pairing of Nico Roberg and Michael Schumacher in sixth and seventh ninth placed Robert Kubica and Sauber’s Kamui Kobayashi in tenth.
The race provided little joy for the local drivers. Felipe Massa was forced to make two pit stops in quick succession following tyre problems and then banged wheels with a number of drivers on his way to 15th. Engineer Rob Smedly was left banging his fist on the Ferrari pitwall.
Rubens Barrichello also endured a delay in the pits and later suffered a puncture trying to pass Jaime Alguersuari’s Toro Rosso, ending up 14th. Meanwhile rookies Bruno Senna and Lucas di Grassi were both out-qualified by their team-mates and made little headway in the race. Senna came home 20th whilst di Grassi was unclassified following a long spell in the garages.
Unusually for Brazil we saw just one crash yesterday, albeit a pretty big ‘un, with Tonio Liuzzi stuffing it in to the barriers as he negotiated the Senna S.
So after 18 races and eight months it all comes down to next weekend’s race in Abu Dhabi. We can call it a four-way battle if you want, but realistically this is between Alonso and the Red Bulls. After one of the best seasons in living memory, the battle is so close and there’s so much to play for – don’t you wish it was Sunday already?