Sunday, 7 November 2010

Brazilian GP Report: Red Bull make good their escape to set up last race showdown

Normal service was resumed rather rapidly on race day in Brazil. After the double six thrown by Nico Hulkenberg by taking a surprise pole ahead of the four main title contenders in a wet-dry qualifying session, the potential for him to add an extra variable in the race waned rapidly after the red light went out.

The story of the race was how quickly you could clear Hulkenberg's Williams. Vettel did this off the line, and Webber followed suit a couple of corners later at Descida do Lago. The Bulls then scampered off into the distance and were gone for the day. Alonso eventually followed past the Hulk at the same spot as Webber on lap 7, but even by this time he was upwards of ten seconds down on Seb at the front. Lewis, who seemed to be having some sort of crisis judging by his radio communications, didn't manage to pass the Hulk until the pit stops, by which time he wasn't within ten seconds even of Alonso.

Seb looked utterly in command throughout, and swept to victory from the front in that way he does to a nicety. Webber pedaled hard to keep up, but just didn't have his team mate's legs. Alonso did his usual formidable best to put them under pressure, but the Bulls always seemed to have something in hand, and Fred had to settle for third.

No team order switch of the Bull drivers was done, even though that would have made the mathematics of Alonso winning the title in the last race a bit more tricky. As things now stand, second place in Abu Dhabi will give Fred the crown, as will third (or even fourth) place if Seb wins. Would Seb cede to Webbo if they're running one and two with Alonso third in Abu Dhabi? You'd think he probably would, and Christian Horner seemed to suggest this would be done, even if framed as a 'driver decision'. But there's clearly a bit of water under the bridge between the two drivers (did you see Webber's face after the race?), and what about up until that point? Will they be allowed to race and push each other? What if they one pushes the other into a mistake and retirement or delay? That'll hand the title to Alonso in all probability. I'm glad it's not me managing that situation.

Lewis is still in the championship hunt having come home fourth, but it's strictly mathematical as he's 24 points behind with 25 on offer in Abu Dhabi. His main role in the last race may be as a spoiler for someone else's title bid - Lewis was comfortably fastest there last season after all. Jenson drove well from starting in P11 (and being the victim of a hold-up on Saturday evening), leapfrogging a few cars by pitting early, making a few nice overtakes, and coming in fifth not far behind Lewis. He is, however, no longer in title contention.

The Hulk, meantime, faded somewhat to finish a lapped eighth, behind the Mercs. Schumi again impressed, and was a bit unlucky to finish behind his team mate. Schumi may be getting to grips with F1 after all.

A big well done to Red Bull on clinching the constructors' crown. Yes, they're not always everyone's cup of tea, and they have made rather heavy weather of this season one way or another, given the potential of their car. But no one can deny that they have made amazing strides in their six seasons in the sport, have taken over a middling team at a low ebb.

We'll now all need to put our hands together for next weekend when the drivers' title will be decided. No fewer than four drivers still have a chance, which is a record (unless you include 1982, though including that is dubious as one of the four drivers was in hospital with smashed legs, and one only had a chance if an appeal against a disqualification was successful!). Don't let anyone tell you F1's getting boring.

Brazilian GP results on the Autosport website

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