The 2012 F1 season has gone down to the wire in the Brazil where either Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel will take the title. Both are currently two-time world champions and whoever wins the title will have more titles to his name than any other driver on the grid in 2013. We do some maths for you to tell you how both the drivers can win the title, and we also relate this final race battle with previous seasons.
Currently, Vettel leads the standings with 273 points as compared to Alonso who has grabbed 260 points. . The gap between the two drivers is 13 points with a maximum of 25 available to a driver in the final race.
How Vettel can win the title
1) If Vettel finishes 4th or higher, he will win the championship irrespective of Alonso's result. If he finishes 4th and Alonso wins the race, they will tie on 285 points but since Vettel would have won more races(5 compared to Alonso's 4), he will win the championship.
2) If Vettel finishes in 7th place and Alonso finishes 2nd or lower.. In that case, Vettel will have 279 points as compared to Alonso's 278.
3) If Vettel finishes in 9th place, and Alonso finishes 3rd or lower, Vettel will take the title. In that case Vettel and Alonso will tie on 275 points but the former will will win the title on account of more victories.
4) If Alonso doesn't finish on the podium, Vettel will still grab the title as maximum points for a non-podium finisher is 10 while the gap between the two drivers is currently 13.
How Alonso can win the title
1) If Alonso wins the race and Vettel finishes 5th or lower. In that case Alonso will have 285 points as compared to Vettel's 283.
2) If Alonso finishes 2nd and Vettel finishes 8th or lower. In that case, Alonso will have 278 points as compared to Vettel's 277.
3) If Alonso finishes 3rd and Vettel finished 10th or lower. In that case, Alonso will have 275 points as compared to Vettel 274.
How the title fight might go
Looking at 13 points difference between Vettel and Alonso and the difference in pace between Ferrari and Red Bull, Vettel is likely to win his 3rd consecutive title. In dry conditions, Red Bull have been dominant in the recent past. However, there's a 40% of chance of rain on Sunday and that might play in Alonso's hands. In 2010, Vettel overcome a margin of 15 points to Alonso in the final round to take the championship. So is it time for Alonso to take revenge?
Recap of previous final race title deciders
2010 - Vettel vs Alonso at Abu Dhabi
In the past, we've seen many titles decided at Brazil and it's not always the driver who leads the race going into the final round wins the world championship.
In 2010, Alonso was leading the championship going into the final round in Abu Dhabi. Vettel was down in 3rd place, 15 points behind the Spaniard. Vettel qualified his car on pole while Alonso was only 3rd fastest. Had they finished in the positions they've started, Alonso would have won the title. But as we now know, that didn't happen thanks to a major strategy mistake by Ferrari.
Ferrari were concerned about the wear of soft tyres on Webber's car who had pitted on lap 12. They tried to cover the Australian with Massa but the latter came out behind Webber. Ferrari then instructed Alonso to pit on lap 15 and he did come out ahead of Webber. However, they had underestimated the life of soft tyres and the leaders could do nearly 10 more laps on the same set of tyres.
Though Alonso came out ahead of Webber, he was behind Petrov's Caterham who had pitted on lap 1 under Safety Car and was going to go all the way to the end on the same set of tyres. Alonso failed to overtake Petrov for whole of the race, the Russian was very defensive and had higher straight line speed than Alonso. In the end, Alonso finished in 7th place while Vettel on a normal strategy went on to win the race and the title. By doing so, he became the youngest ever world championship surpassing Lewis Hamilton's record by 166 days.
The error can be concluded in this way - Ferrari were too much into Webber and his strategy and in this process failed to look at the bigger picture.
2007 - Raikkonen vs Alonso vs Hamilton
Vettel isn't the only driver who won the title without leading the championship going into the final race. Kimi Raikkonen did the same in 2007 where he won the title from 3rd place in the standings. At that time, it was Lewis Hamilton was leading the championship going into the final round but a gearbox problem cost him 30 seconds and he slipped to 18th place. He recovered to finish in 7th but that wasn't enough as he lost out the title by a single point. Alonso, who was his teammate in 2007 tied with him in the championship in 2nd place.
2008 - Hamilton nearly loses the title because of Vettel
Hamilton approached the final race of the season leading the championship from Massa by 7 points(note: points scoring system was different in 2008). Hamilton had to finish in 5th place irrespective of Massa's position. Massa qualified on pole while Hamilton qualified in 4th place on Saturday. During the race, Hamilton was running 5th on a wet track in Brazil but with just 2 laps to go he ran wide and was overtaken by Vettel. Had Hamilton finished in 6th place, he would have lost the championship by 1 point, just like in 2007. But on the very last corner of the last lap of the last race of the 2007 season he overtook Glock who was struggling on dry tyres to move into 5th place and take the championship by 1 point.
By Rachit Thukral