Brazilian Grand Prix 2010: Preview

4 Mins read

In less than one fortnight, we will finally know the winner of the 2010 F1 championship. In fact, we may know sooner: Fernando Alonso will be crowned champion on Sunday if he scores fourteen points more than Mark Webber and four points more than Lewis Hamilton, and finishes ahead of Sebastian Vettel.

The last four champions have been crowned in Interlagos, venue for this weekend's Brazilian Grand Prix. Jenson Button secured the championship with one race to spare last year -Alonso can pull off the same feat this season.

In fact, Brazil has provided us with some fantastic memories in recent years. Webber took the race win last season but his celebrations were overshadowed by those in the Brawn GP garage as they celebrated Button's fifth place – and the four points that secured him the championship.

In 2008 Felipe Massa was standing on the top step of the podium at his home race but all eyes were on Hamilton who, in the closing corners of the race, on a drying track, overtook the Toyota of Timo Glock to claim fifth place and enough points for his title. This manoeuvre cut short the celebrations of Massa's family, who thought that the drivers' title was heading to their man. Unbridled joy quickly turned to deep disappointment as they learned of Hamilton's pass.

In 2007, all the talk was of the rivalry between McLaren teammates Alonso and Hamilton. The Brit had an excellent chance of clinching the championship in his debut season.  Kimi Raikkonen led a Ferrari one-two that day, securing a championship win that had seemed incredibly unlikely just a few races earlier.

In fact, Raikkonen's 2007 campaign mirrors Alonso's 2010 season in many respects. Both won their first race with Ferrari, and then didn't win again until the middle of the season. Raikkonen won three of the last four races of that season (and had podium finishes in all of the last seven) and came from behind to take the title. Alonso seemed completely out of contention as he finished fourteenth at the British Grand Prix in July, but has won four of the last seven races (including the controversial victory in Germany) and now leads Webber by 11 points. Will history repeat itself for Ferrari? Can Alonso take the victory (and possibly the title) in Brazil on Sunday?

Alonso won his 2006 at the final race of the season in Brazil. Michael Schumacher was his only challenger, but he started tenth before a puncture dropped the German to the back of the field. Schumacher fought through the field to finish fourth but a second place finish was enough for Alonso to take his second title while Massa took the race win.

And Massa may be crucial in Alonso's battle for the title this weekend. Much has been made of the fact that Alonso has the backing of his teammate this year, whilst his rivals at Red Bull and McLaren are still fighting for intra-team supremacy.

However, apart from gifting Alonso the win in Germany, Massa has not really done much else to help the Spaniard. For most of the season Massa has been woefully off his teammates' pace, has failed to take points off Alonso's title rivals, and certainly hasn't been in a position to gift Alonso any more race victories.

But Massa loves his home race. He has won here twice, and is expected to be very competitive in front of his home fans. There may be a small-scale riot if he lets Alonso past him as blatantly as he did earlier this year, but he can at least be expected to take points off the other championship contenders.

Alonso, then, has a willing teammate, a fast and reliable car, leading on points, and the momentum that can be very important as the title reaches its climax. He is undoubtedly the favourite for the title, but it would take a stellar drive, and a fair bit of luck, to win it in Brazil.

There may be five still mathematically in with a chance of the 2010 crown, but despite any illusions that Jenson Button may have, there are only really four in with any realistic chance. Button will be completely out of contention at the end of this weekend unless he wins the race or comes second.

Even if Button manages to win on Sunday, he needs to hope that Alonso doesn't finish any higher than seventh. If, by some remarkable turn of events, this does happen, he will then have to go to Abu Dhabi hoping for a similar result if he is going take the title – all whilst praying that his other title rivals don't pick up too many points. In summary then: it isn't going to happen.

Sebastian Vettel needs to finish ahead of Alonso to keep his title chances alive – something he could realistically do, especially as he has what is still regarded as the fastest car on the grid. He was driving a faultless race in Korea until his engine let go, claimed a sumptuous victory in Japan, and can't be ruled out in the same way as Button can.

Hamilton is 21 points behind Alonso, but if he does well in Brazil and the Spaniard doesn't, then the F1 title may head to Britain for a third consecutive season. McLaren seem to have upped their game since disappointing results in Italy and Singapore and, if anyone can overturn this points deficit in two races, it would be Lewis Hamilton.

The Brit also has statistics on his side. In his debut season (2007), he finished this race seventh. The next year, it was fifth place for Hamilton in Brazil. Last year, he got on the podium with a third place finish. If we follow this trend, victory will be his in Interlagos on Sunday.

Despite all this, Mark Webber is the challenger with the most to be optimistic about. True, he went from leading the title race by 14 points to trailing Alonso by 11 points thanks to his mistake in the rain in Korea – but the same thing could happen in reverse this weekend, and the Aussie could head to Abu Dhabi topping the standings. Indeed, if he can finish ahead of Alonso in Brazil, especially with him repeating his race win of last season, then the whole title race will be finely balanced for the final race.

There is the prospect of rain in Sao Paulo at some point this weekend, so we could end up with a mixed grid, or even a chaotic race – just as unpredictable as the Korean Grand Prix. This season has provided so much excitement in the previous seventeen races, and there could well be some more twists and turns in store on Sunday.

Qualifying and the race begin at 16:00 GMT this Saturday and Sunday, respectively. There will be plenty of reports, comments, and reaction on this site throughout the weekend.

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David is an occasional contributer to the site on matters related to Formula 1. You can follow him on twitter at @Dr_Bean.
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