As the Formula One season coming to a close, Amy Eustace takes a look how the championship has unfolded
With only two races left in the Formula One calendar, the battle for first place is already boiling over. The Brazilian Grand Prix takes place in Sao Paulo this weekend, before the championship comes to a close in Abu Dhabi in a fortnight.
Presently, Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso leads the pack off the back of his impressive victory in Korea, followed by Red Bull’s Mark Webber, whose crash in Yeongam, South Korea, saw him slip behind first place by eleven points.
The title race swung dramatically in Alonso’s favour in rain-soaked Yeongam on October 24th. Webber crashed out early and his teammate Vettel’s engine blew, leaving the Spaniard free to take full advantage of Red Bull’s double DNF. Alonso’s fifth win of the year puts him top for now, but not comfortably, and Ferrari will surely look to take advantage of the Red Bull team’s strained relationship this year.
Vettel and Webber are both challenging for the top prize and although the Australian has the upper hand, the Red Bull technical team have made it clear that they will continue to support both drivers equally. Ferrari, on the other hand, seemingly have all their hopes pinned on Alonso, as his Brazilian cohort Felipe Massa languishes behind in sixth – a massive 88 points behind the championship leader.
McLaren, too, are more than up for the title fight. Hamilton’s second-place finish in South Korea sees him keep third place in the overall standings and more than capable of mounting a title challenge.
The apparently united stance he and fellow Englishman Jenson Button maintain could prove invaluable in the final stretch. Despite that, however, Button could only achieve a disappointing twelfth place in South Korea, and will no doubt seek to rectify the dent that this lacklustre performance has placed in his championship ambitions.
The two Britons, former and current world champions, have been subject to much comparison over their careers. Their first year as teammates has been largely successful for both, but it is Hamilton who has the edge over his older countryman, affirmed by a number of stunning displays over the course of the championship.
The competition this year has seen much change to whet the appetites of F1 fans – the departure of some old favourites, the arrival of new blood, and even the return of a bona-fide racing legend.
Michael Schumacher returned to the grid with Mercedes GP after a three-year absence. While he has by no means set the championship alight as he once did with Ferrari, the 41-year-old German currently stands in ninth place – a respectable position despite being 56 points behind teammate, Nico Rosberg, and out of title contention for some weeks.
At the tail end of the table, three newly formed teams have demonstrated just how difficult it can be to compete in Formula One, by failing to put a single point on the board to date. Lotus, Virgin and Hispania Racing have all struggled with mechanical woes in their debut season.
The always-dramatic F1 finale is set to take place in Abu Dhabi’s impressive Yas Marina Circuit on November 14th, and as things start to really heat up, it is sure to be a close and gripping contest.