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So whose championship is it anyway?

by SK

One couldn’t have asked for a better end to 2012 F1 championship. In what was touted as one of the most anticipated championships in recent times, with six world champions fighting it out for the top honours, we have seen seven different winners, thirteen different drivers in the podium and one of the most unpredictable championships of all time!

Though Red Bull seems to have the constructor’s championship in the bag, the drivers’ title has been hanging precariously in the balance since the beginning. Fernando Alonso had a comfortable lead in the first half of the season, but it has been reduced to a deficit of ten points by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull, thanks to a great car, superb driving and some other drivers finding the Scarlet Ferrari of Alonso simply irresistible during the race! After Abu Dhabi, the championship has been reduced to a two way fight to the end.

The Tifosi may argue that Alonso was undone by the accidents for no reason of his own at Belgium and Japan, but then the ardent Vettel fans would say that they too, had their fair bit of ill luck at Italy and European GP. Whatever said and done, lady luck did show up at the Bulls meadow at Abu Dhabi with both the safety car incidents adding to Vettel’s advantage. But one thing that stood out in this year’s championship, was the ability of Vettel and Red Bull to raise their game each time they were challenged and Alonso pushing the car to the limits, to extract the best out of it and making it quite handful in a couple of circuits. An error in their wind tunnel may cost Ferrari dearly this time around but the way both Vettel and Alonso raced over these last few races, showed us why they are double world champions and fitting enough to be crowned champion a third time.

Sebastian Vettel gave thumbs up to his challenger after the race last weekend, showing how well he had enjoyed the fight. And why not? After the penalty he incurred post qualifying, it was nothing short of a miracle to see him on the podium at the end of the race. Given the current form he is in and the nature of the upcoming circuits, it seems Vettel is well on his way to being crowned the youngest triple world champion of all time. Vettel truly deserves it too. He is fast, has a good car and is in a very good form too. But his Achilles’ heel could be his pit team which has time and again made mistakes. Though none of them have cost him any points, it remains to be seen if they can stand the pressure of retaining the championship over the last couple of races. We have seen even consistent teams like Ferrari make blunders, like sending out Felipe Massa with a refuelling rig still on, in 2008 Singapore GP and the Lotus team, previously Renault, missing to put a wheel nut in Alonso’s car in 2006 Hungarian GP. But for the time being, the German is the bookies’ favourite to retain the championship.

On the other hand, Alonso and his team are feeling the pressure, which is evident in the way they switched over their conversation to Italian from English during crunch time of the race. Alonso had insisted time and again that he had one of the best teams in the circuit and they would stop at nothing but the championship. But given the current pace of the prancing horse, it would take a herculean performance by Alonso and his team to take it down to the wire. Considering the way races have gone this year, it could be all over for Alonso by the time he leaves Austin in two weeks time. He has a ten point deficit and it will be rather difficult for him to pull it back in case he finishes behind Vettel at Austin. Hence, Alonso has everything to play for. The big positive going for Alonso has been his consistency and the reliability of the car, something that has been haunting McLaren for quiet some seasons now. Hopefully, the team wouldn’t make any more strategic errors as it did back in the last race of 2010, costing him the championship.

Then there is the threat of other drivers driving as if there is no tomorrow! As was seen at Yas Marina last weekend, there were at least half a dozen drivers on the track, driving as if it was Go Karting! This only makes the proposition difficult for Vettel and Alonso in case they end up in the midfield. It goes on to show why Vettel’s drive at Abu Dhabi was top class. All said and done, Vettel and Alonso thoroughly deserve all the accolades, the winner being the world champion and the runner up, the people’s champion!

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