Home »  Sport

The last two F1 races could get dirty

Tuesday, 6 November 2012 - 6:42pm IST | Agency: The Daily Telegraph
'Fernando Alonso is a teak-tough competitor and I have a feeling these last two races could get a bit dirty; a bit more street', writes David Coulthard.

And they said Abu Dhabi was a boring venue. Try telling that to my ticker. It is only now that I have got home, showered and had time to reflect on the extraordinary scenes that unfolded on Sunday night that my pulse has returned to something approaching normal.

What a weekend. What drama. And what a couple of races we have coming up in the United States and Brazil to decide the destination of this year's drivers' title. Sebastian Vettel, in my view, is the marginal favourite, and I say that without any bias given my connection to Red Bull. He has to be. Not only does he hold a 10-point advantage over Alonso, Red Bull have generally had the faster car all year.

But it is only marginal. Fernando Alonso is a teak-tough competitor and I have a feeling these last two races could get a bit dirty; a bit more 'street'. The Spaniard is as streetwise as they come. Fernando wants to go to war, wants this to become a battle of wits as much as machines. He is trying to unsettle Seb, while at the same time exuding confidence and serenity. He has even taken to quoting Samurai philosophy in his post-race interviews.

There is another reason Fernando may feel encouraged. The return to form of Lewis Hamilton and McLaren in Abu Dhabi means Red Bull are no longer guaranteed pole. We don't know whether that will still be the case in Austin next week, since the Formula One circus has never been there before, but we do know that Seb's success in recent races has been based on him getting out in front and controlling the race. If he is further back, not only does he risk getting caught up in an incident, he is also more vulnerable to attacks from drivers using DRS.

One thing is for sure, whichever of them prevails he will have earned the right to be called a triple world champion: Fernando for having maximised every single opportunity available to him this year, for making virtually no errors, for consistently outperforming the car, for never giving up; and Seb, for withstanding the pressure Alonso is applying by the bucketload and for proving himself time and again.

Sunday's race was a prime example. To be relegated to the back of the grid, through no fault of your own, with all your detractors saying you can't race and it's all about the car, and then to battle back and finish on the podium, is pretty special.

I'm not buying this 'he got lucky' baloney. Yes, things fell nicely for Seb with the two safety cars. But Jenson Button had similar fortune in Canada last year and everyone agreed his was a brilliant drive. Seb had such a positive mindset on Sunday, he was so aggressive, it was a case of luck favouring the brave.

Nor am I buying this argument that it was unfair because Red Bull were able to make substantial changes to the car's set-up after qualifying.

The rules are the same for everyone. Other teams could have pulled their cars out of parc ferme and started from the pit-lane. McLaren had the same choice in Barcelona in May when Lewis was relegated to the back of the grid.

So yes, Vettel's drive was brilliant, as were a number of others on Sunday. There were also some pretty shoddy displays and some very avoidable collisions. The action was fast and furious and a little bit all over the place. But what it did deliver, I thought, was a perfect illustration of the contrast between the 'greats' and the 'goods' in Formula One at the moment.

Jenson's awareness during his scrap with Seb over the final podium place, knowing when to concede the corner, being an example of some world-class driving; his soon-to-be McLaren team-mate Sergio Perez forcing Paul di Resta off the circuit at the same corner earlier in the race being a little more average.

It was no surprise that the top four places all went to world champions. Had Lewis not retired it would have been five world champions in the top five. The cream, as ever in Formula One, rises to the top. The race for the drivers' title could hardly be closer or more tantalisingly poised. My money is on Seb, but only just.




Jump to comments