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In the balance in the desert

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Andrew Benson | 20:35 UK time, Sunday, 7 November 2010

Sao Paulo

Once the euphoria of victory, in both the Brazilian Grand Prix and the constructors' championship, wears off, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel has six days to prepare for the most agonising decision of his 23 years.

On pure performance, the German must be considered the favourite to win the final race of a brilliant, marathon Formula 1 season in Abu Dhabi next Sunday, but he knows that is not enough on its own for him to win the world title and become the youngest champion in history.

Vettel also needs the results of the other title contenders to go his way. The championship leader, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, remains in a very strong position despite finishing third behind Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber here at Interlagos.

McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, a distant fourth, is still in with a mathematical chance, but at 24 points adrift of the Spaniard with only 25 available, his chances are almost over, just as his team-mate Jenson Button's were before arriving in Brazil.

Despite an excellent drive from 11th on the grid to fifth, Button is now too far back to retain his crown.

The maths are relatively simple - if Vettel wins in Abu Dhabi, Alonso needs only to finish fourth to win the title, a relatively simple task on paper in the second fastest car; but if Webber wins, Alonso needs to be second. And that is where it starts to get interesting - and where the heartache potentially starts for Vettel.

The Red Bull is the fastest car, and Vettel tends to have the edge in qualifying over Webber, by a margin that is often less than a 10th of a second. And on paper, Alonso should be third fastest. So it is quite possible that Vettel will find himself leading in Abu Dhabi from Webber and Alonso, just as he did in Brazil.

As far as Red Bull are concerned, the correct action for Vettel in those circumstances would be to let Webber through to prevent a Ferrari driver winning the title.

But would he? I asked him exactly that after the race.


Vettel celebrates victory in the Brazilian Grand Prix

Team boss Christian Horner says Red Bull are committed to treating Vettel (left ) and Webber (right) equally. Photo: Getty

"I go to Abu Dhabi and try to do my best and then we see," he said. "What do you want to hear? I can only tell you that in the scenario you are talking about, it is something you will think of. I think it's clear."

Was that a 'yes', someone else asked?

"It is one week," Vettel replied. "As a kid, I never liked (it) when my parents teased me for something and didn't answer my questions, so now I am in a good position to tease you, so you will see."

The inference I took from that is that he will let Webber through if necessary, but one can only wonder at how hard that would be for Vettel to do.

Both Red Bull drivers have made high-profile mistakes this year, Webber arguably slightly more than Vettel, but Vettel has had far more mechanical problems than his team-mate.

Four times Vettel has lost major points with a retirement or other serious problem that has dropped him down the order, and without them he would be world champion already, regardless of those errors. Webber, by contrast, has basically had no serious mechanical issues at all.

For Vettel, then, letting Webber through in Abu Dhabi would be handing over a world championship that he probably - and with some justification - feels should be his.

It would be bad enough losing the title to Alonso, but to do it to a guy in the same car, with whom you have had a fractious relationship all year, and who has had less bad luck than you, would surely be excruciating for him.

But that is only if the race is straightforward and predictable - and how many times has that happened this year?

Alonso's Ferrari has beaten the Red Bulls three times in the last five races. The Spaniard is a formidable competitor, and there must be a more than decent chance that he will get in between the two Red Bulls either in qualifying or at the start.

With overtaking so difficult, then, qualifying on Saturday will take on a special significance, and the pressure on all three will be intense.

And if Alonso is third on the grid behind the two Red Bulls, he still might be second into the first corner because, being in the desert, Abu Dhabi has a dirty side to the grid, where the even numbered starting positions are, and the man who is second on the grid could easily lose a place at the start.

Imagine, too, if Alonso for whatever reason has a major problem that puts him out of contention. Then the battle for the title would be a winner-takes-all fight between the two Red Bull drivers.

There would be no team orders and if one of them had a problem - as Webber did with a lack of water pressure in his engine in Brazil - there would be no backing off this time.

In that scenario, Webber could afford to finish fifth, and therefore could afford to be more aggressive with his team-mate than Vettel could with him.

And there is another, delicious, prospect. If Vettel wins from Webber, and both McLaren drivers manage to push Alonso down to fifth place, then the race would end with Alonso, Vettel and Webber tied on points. In those circumstances, Vettel and Alonso would be tied on five race wins each and Vettel would be champion on countback by virtue of having more fourth places than Alonso.

It could hardly be better poised. The chances are the fight will go down to the last corner of the last lap of the last race, which is exactly the way it should be after one of the greatest F1 seasons there has ever been.

Comments

Page 1 of 3

  • Comment number 1.

    So much for the new points system ..... not a ha'porth of difference
    DRIVERS Pts "Old"
    Alonso 246 99
    Webber 238 96
    Vettel 231 94
    Hamilton 222 92
    Button 199 81
    Massa 143 57
    Rosberg 130 50
    Kubica 126 48

    Same with Constructors: (names shortened for easy display)

    RBR-Renault 469 190
    McLaren 421 173
    Ferrari 389 156
    Mercedes GP 202 75
    Renault 145 54
    Force India 68 20
    Williams 69 21
    BMW Sauber 44 12
    STR-Ferrari 11 1


  • Comment number 2.

    So much for the new points system ..... not a ha'porth of difference
    DRIVERS: Pts - "Old"
    Alonso: 246 - 99
    Webber: 238 - 96
    Vettel: 231 - 94
    Hamilton: 222 - 92
    Button: 199 - 81
    Massa: 143 - 57
    Rosberg: 130 - 50
    Kubica: 126 - 48

    Same with Constructors: (names shortened for easy display)

    RBR-Renault: 469 - 190
    McLaren: 421 - 173
    Ferrari: 389 - 156
    Mercedes: 202 - 75
    Renault: 145 - 54
    Force India: 68 - 20
    Williams: 69 - 21
    BMW Sauber: 44 - 12
    STR-Ferrari: 11 - 1

    (If you'd like to see simple spreadheet let me know)

  • Comment number 3.

    Cmon Alonso!!!! hope his engine holds together for one more race! if it dont and it comes down to a straight fight between the two red bull drivers i hope vettel wins it as he has proven he is faster than webber this year and only becasue of reliability issues for vettel, webber still has a chance of beating him.

    if vettel wins and webber is second they would be tied and then vettel would be champoin having having 6 victorys to webbers 5, but hopefully Alonso will show them how its done!

  • Comment number 4.

    Absolutely spot on. You have missed nothing. I can't really wait for the qualifying to start next Saturday. The only thing I would like to add is the psychological aspect of the battle.

    Vettel has the easiest position as he has almost nothing to loose. Go for the win and eventually wait for the team orders close to the last lap. Alonso showed how relentless and strong he can be under pressure. The question mark is Mark. He showed signs of weakness in Korea and he couldn't blame the team anymore as Vettel will help him for sure this time. So he only has to concentrate on himself and deliver and that will put all the pressure on him. Will he be up to the task ? That remains to be seen.

    For me, he is in the best position but he has to step to the occasion.

  • Comment number 5.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 6.

    Hullcity0 it does make a little diffrence!! Mclaren would still be in with a shot of the constructors if redbull failed to finish and mclaren were 1-2. and hamilton lost when he was 7 points ahead of raikkonen in 2007. I think the final race would be a lot more intresting with the old system.

    I guess im routing for a Vettel, Alonso and Webber collision or engine failure and even then i doubt hamilton would take advantage ha if only he wasn't British eh :)

  • Comment number 7.

    "The maths are relatively simple - if Vettel wins in Brazil, Alonso needs only to finish fourth to win the title"

    Guess you meant: "if Vettel wins in Abu Dhabi"

  • Comment number 8.

    Alonso will be strong in Abu Dhabi and I wouldn't be surprised if he actually won the race. He has been hinting that he was going to be conservative in Brazil and just secure a podium and go for it in the last race.

  • Comment number 9.

    Re comment seven: Thanks for pointing out that slip. It has now been changed.

  • Comment number 10.

    Have been watching F1 since 1985 and this is the best season I have ever seen (even better than '86). I hope Lewis wins it but is unlikely...anyone but Alonso...he is a spoilt brat who was upstaged by a rookie in '07 and threw the toys out of his pram!!

  • Comment number 11.

    Andrew, I think the last point you raise is a very interesting one. Perhaps Ferrari could play mind games with the Red Bulls drivers (and especially Vettel) with this:

    Let's say that Vettel and Webber are running 1-2, and Ferrari engineer their strategy in such a way so that Massa is kept running in 4th with Alonso not too far behind in 5th (easier said than done, but possible). If the race ended 1.Vettel 2.Webber 5.Alonso, as you say, Vettel would win the championship.

    But what would Vettel do in this situation, knowing that Ferrari could swap their drivers over at the last corner, giving Alonso the title if it ended 1.Vettel 2. Webber 4.Alonso? Would he let Webber through to guarantee the driver's title for Red Bull, even though he'd be champion if Ferrari somehow managed to mess up swapping Massa and Alonso over?

    What if Hamilton or Button were looking very likely to take 5th from Alonso, meaning that Vettel would not have to pull over for Webber if an overtake was made on the last lap? Would he still be willing to pull over knowing that the race could potentially end 1. Vettel 2. Webber 6. Alonso?

    None of these possibilities would arise if the race was running 1.Vettel 2.Webber 3.Alonso; Vettel would be able to just pull over for Webber knowing he had next to no chance of winning the title anyway, barring some miraculous failure on Alonso's car on the last lap. All I'm saying is, perhaps Ferrari may be best off trying to force this situation rather than let Alonso chase the 'Bulls down, if only to screw with Vettel's head.

    It's high risk; Vettel may just pull over for Webber anyway... but racing drivers are naturally selfish people. Could you really imagine Vettel just pulling over instead of crossing the line in 1st with his fingers crossed?

    All hypothetical, of course. but just a thought.

  • Comment number 12.

    "In that scenario, Webber could afford not to finish the race, and therefore could be as aggressive as he liked with his team-mate."

    Not true - he is 8 points behind Alonso.

  • Comment number 13.

    Today has proven how things can change from one weekend to another. I have my doubts that Red Bull will finish one-two in the next race. It is possible that one of them wins the race, probably Vettel as he is in best form at the moment and I think Mark is feeling the pressure. If Alonso does not have a mechanical problem or a collision my bets go to him for the championship.

    I hope in qualy it is Vettel, Webber and Alonso in whatever order. It is going to be an epic fight then.

  • Comment number 14.

    "Imagine, too, if Alonso for whatever reason has a major problem that puts him out of contention. Then the battle for the title would be a winner-takes-all fight between the two Red Bull drivers.

    There would be no team orders and if one of them had a problem - as Webber did with a lack of water pressure in his engine in Brazil - there would be no backing off this time."

    I'm sorry - maybe it's me - but I don't understand this statement. If Alonso fails to finish (in the points), Webber still needs to score 9 points (i.e. finish 5th) or he will have fewer points than Alonso. He can, by all means, take Vettel out, but he needs to ensure he can struggle on to 5th place or it will make no difference.

    That's how I see it, anyway. I did see a similar statement on Joe Saward's blog, so it's quite possible I'm wrong. Anyway, whatever happens, it will be a fascinating weekend under the lights in Abu Dhabi!

  • Comment number 15.

    Vettel's choice is far more complicated than it may initially seem.
    Let's say that the race is running Vettel, Webber Alonso (a reasonable scenario). Vettel could let Webber through to win the championship, but what if Alonso then crashes (meaning whichever Red Bull driver wins takes it all)? Would Webber let Vettel back through? I doubt it.

    So if Vettel is going to let Webber through, he should (for his own chances) do it at the last possible moment of the race. Unfortunately that adds complications of questions of F1 being fixed and 'not really a sport' all over again.

  • Comment number 16.

    Yeah. Great season. I have enjoyed it inmensely.

    I have to add I find it unvelievable that after all that has been wrtitten and said against Ferrari for applying team orders, everybody now, from commentators to drivers to team management are all talking about how Vettel will let Webber through if he needs it to become DWC. So matter of fact. But wasn't it illegal? I find the level of hypocresy is unreal.

    Those who don't raise their voice now to say Vettel should never let Webber through, will have no moral ground to question Alonso's point when he gets the championship next week.

    It is clearer than ever that team orders are a reality. So, please FIA, change the rules and stop all this nonsense.

  • Comment number 17.

    Andrew, where is the race highlights clip? I have every one since Melbourne last year. Please don't say the BBC have stopped doing one.

  • Comment number 18.

    I think next weekends race is going to be very exciting, I hope reliability does not become an issue for Webber, Vettel, or Alonso. I think Hamilton is unfortunately confirmed as being out of contention, as he needs the most mammoth amount of luck you have seen in your life to get crowned as a double drivers wourld champion.

    All the same, I do look forward to next weeks race, and like Andrew I hope it goes down to the very last moment of the 2010 season. But as I said, I think after everything that has happened this season I dont want reliability to mess up what could potentially be an excellent championship fight in Abu Dhabi.

    Good luck to all of the top 3, 6 days till the final bit of F1 racing for 2010! what an agonising wait I expect it to be. Whatever happens the driver who wins this years championship will have definitely deserved their title this year.

  • Comment number 19.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 20.

    #16 - I understand what you're saying but I agree with Max Mosely that by not penalizing Alonso for the seven points he gained the FIA have given teams the green light to implement team orders with impunity so we are now in a whole new situation. The $100,000 fine was a joke - I'm sure both Alonso and Webber would be happy to pay the fines out of their own paycheck for the points advantage team orders provide.

    In case you didn't notice, Schumacher admitted he let Rosberg through today. Do you think there will be any action taken?

  • Comment number 21.

    Well first of all, my congrats go to Red Bull on winning the constructors.

    Second of all, I'm still rooting for Webber to win the Championship. It would be a shame if Red Bull didn't win the Drivers title also, so I'm going with Webber.

    Vettel I don't think has a chance unless something happens to both Alonso and Webber, Hamilton needs a miracle if he's too win (which I feel is unlikely, but he'll need the same prediction as Vettel) and Alonso has another time to add a third title to his tally (I'm not saying he can't do it, but I'd like to see Webber win the title as Button is now out of contention).

    So here's to next weekend... Come On Webber!

  • Comment number 22.

    @ 16.

    The "team orders" debate is entirely different. Team orders do not come into this question as the Constructors Championship has been sewn up and it is only the Drivers Championship that remains.

    Therefore, this is a question of whether a driver will unilaterally decide to move over in order to help his team mate win the title rather than a team ordering their driver (as Ferrrari did in the case of Massa) to move over.

    Touching on actual team orders... It has amused me over the last few weeks that Red Bull as a team are refusing to even comment on the possibility that they would order Vettel to move over for Webber in order to give one of their drivers the very best chance of winning the drivers championship, as if to do so would lack integrity. It is a shame that they didn't have the same integrity when they ordered parts to be removed from Webber's car and put onto Vettel's car some 10 or so races ago when Vettel was ahead by a paltry number of points.

    Vettel is clearly the chosen one within the Red Bull team and all talk of equality between the drivers is bogus. As a Lewis Hamilton fan, barring some miracle that enables him to win the title, I sincerely hope that Webber secures the title next week.

  • Comment number 23.

    Great article as always Andrew but you've put arguably in this piece: "Both Red Bull drivers have made high-profile mistakes this year, Webber arguably slightly more than Vettel", and I would argue it's at least even.

    The high-profile errors for Webber are really Oz crashing with Lewis, the crash at Valencia with Heikki, and his Korea spin.

    The high-profile errors for Vettel are driving into Webber in Turkey, driving too aggressively into Webber at the start at Silverstone damaging his own tyre in the process, and crashing into Jenson in Spa.

    To me that's 3 each and honours even. And although I take your point about the mechanical errors, for a man that has had 9 poles, a return of just 2 wins is an issue of his own making. He has only himself to blame for not winning in the British, German and Hungarian GP's where he started on pole, the Turkish GP where he started 3rd, and the Singapore GP where he should of started 1st but for an error in quali. You need to convert these chances when you can incase there are mechanical issues. Webber on the other hand has had fewer of these silly errors, and I believe out of the Red Bull drivers actually deserves the title more.

    Having said all that I actually want Fernando to win so I hope neither of them do it!

  • Comment number 24.

    Re: 12 and 14. Yes, sorry, we should have spotted that error. That has also been corrected.

  • Comment number 25.

    #18 - don't give up hope. All that's needed is an Alonso DNF (something he's long overdue). This would leave Webber and Vettel in a desperate winner-takes-all fight for the WDC. Given the lack of respect between these two I can easily imagine a repeat of the "Turkey Debacle" with Lewis coming through to pick up the pieces and a second WDC.

  • Comment number 26.

    Thing is for Vettel, even if he decides to let Webber through, he's got to decide when (now, assuming they're running as they finished in Brazil; VET, WEB, ALO, HAM) - ideally for Vettel it's be at the very last corner (then he'd only 'throw away' the championship if Alonso's engine blew just before crossing the finish line). But how would Webber feel about that? If he holds station, he's trusting Vettel to move over, when he could have a go at winning outright by overtaking his team-mate - you can be sure Webber would want the move done ASAP ... if not, would he hold station? He appears a tad paranoid as it is.

    So, say Red Bull do the switch with five laps to go - and almost immediately Alonso's engine blows up. Vettel has just handed the WDC to his team mate. You can be sure he'll try and get it back - what a finale that would be! I'm also not convinced any Red-Bull vs Red-Bull tooth and nails, winner takes all fight will end happily - we've seen it already in Turkey, plus Vettel on Button at Spa ... and that's all why Hamilton's chances aren't quite zero ... for him, he has to hope for an Alonso DNF (not impossible) and a Red Bull collision (pretty likely if they have a battle I'd say).

    It's all fascinatingly poised.

  • Comment number 27.

    "one of the greatest F1 seasons there has ever been."

    Whoa! That's either some exaggerated propaganda or a journalist just out of school. Can't think offhand what made it "great" particularly. The team orders farce? Hmm.

  • Comment number 28.

    If the top 3 take each other out and Lewis wins, he's the world champion! Yeah I know pretty impossible.

  • Comment number 29.

    I like how when Massa moved over for Alonso in the middle of the season there was a total uproar, despite Massa being so much lower on points and off form. But now RedBull have basically said that Vettel will move over and allow Webber through if Alonso is 3rd (and vettel is 1st, webber 2nd). Surely they can't get away with that? Affecting the outcome of the world championship in the final race like that.

    You could argue Ferrari have done the same if Alonso fails to win the championship by 7pts or more. And you could argue that Ferrari allowed Raikonnen to win instead of Massa by deliberately pitting Massa earlier in 2007. But again, Massa was out of contention, and the pass was masked strategically.

    Its bad sportsmanship surely. The same as driving slowly and defensively to allow your team-mate ahead to build a big enough to gap for a pit stop or something.

    I am a Ferrari/Alonso fan yes so i am biased that way. But in all honesty, who wants to see Mark Webber win the championship through a gift of his team mate? Webber is already unconvincing, making silly mistakes, boiling under pressure, attacking his team about favouritism etc. If it was the other way round, i bet Webber wouldn't allow Vettel past. Sour grapes.

    I think we can all safely say RedBull see Vettel as their star number 1 driver, he is their protegé, and will be around for longer than Webber. If Vettel moves over and 'takes one for the team' he will lose all superiority. But if he doesn't let him past, he denies Webber the world championship, which is what the battle has all been about. Webber will get in a paddy and probably quit the team, and Vettel marks himself as the dominant driver for the next year. If Vettel moves over, Webber will win, and will stay on for another year. Being world champion with number 1 will most definitely establish him as number 1 in the team. So Vettel will really be shooting himself in the foot.

    And in all fairness, i'd much rather see Vettel win. He has made silly mistakes aswell, but he has suffered reliability problems so much more than Webber who has cocked it up badly, a lot. Webber can only win through his team mate having bad luck, but thats still not enough, he would have to rely on his team mate to gift him a win, just like he did in hungary. You can argue vettel denied webber a win in turkey, but webber gained the most there as he only lost 10pts, whereas vettel lost 18, and the points conceded were to mclaren who are practically out of the runnings.

    In principle, Vettel should not yield to Webber. I think i'd rather see Webber slam the brakes on and take himself and alonso out.

  • Comment number 30.

    I can't believe that Reb Bull allowed the nightmare scenario to happen in Brazil - Vettel 1st, Weber 2d, Alonso 3rd, so that Weber is more that 7 pointes behind Alonso. Now to beat Alonso, Webber must win and hope Alonso doesn't come second. If Vettel had allowed Webber to win the at least Red Bull would have control of the final outcome.

  • Comment number 31.

    Hiya Andrew and other F1 aficionados, I really enjoyed the conclusion Mr Benson, and was saddened after what in my opinion was a clever strategy by McClaren to bring in Jenson and Lewis in for 2nd fresh tyres in the last 15-20 laps of the race during the safety car. However what saddened me was seeing this strategy immeasurably hampered by having to climb through the crocodile of mid-range (in terms of race placement) Force Indias, Massa's Ferrari, the Renaults, Williams, Sauber and even the Mercedes too. What I was confused about however was that I thought that the safety car deployment meant that (unless entering a pit would otherwise drop you a position due to the next car behind you being sufficiently close enough to pass you) the cars would line up in exact race order (ie. Alonso would have been directly behind Webber, the McClarens directly behind Alonso - having successfully entered the pits and exited without being caught by cars behind them in terms of position). I can't recall well enough sadly which grand prix(s) it occured, but I thought this was the procedure? Thus I was confused and upset when the McClarens (and also Alonso) were stuck in this queue of traffic when the safety car left...

    Can anyone confirm this? Also, I would have found it interesting if Schumacher's overtake on Alonso at Monaco (under safety car conditions that was then retracked - think Schuey suffered a 5 place grid drop for it too...) had been allowed - it was pretty close to the safety car area after all... ;)

  • Comment number 32.

    @Uncle_D I'm trying to look at it realistically. Plus, after all the hype that will no doubt be generated this week, I think it would be a bit of an anti-climax if the championship is won due to retirements by one or more of the contenders.

    Incidentally, I wonder how much people would have talked about the team orders affair if the media hadn't gone on about it in such a big way after it happened? I do realise that one of the things the media do best is publicise any hint of scandal. And as many others have said, it is a very hypocritical response, not just from the F1 followers that expressed outrage when Massa moved for Alonso, but also I think from Red Bull. After all, they were also very quick to criticise Ferrari when they implemented team orders. Looking back on the events now, I have to say that the WMSC were right in not adding any further punishment to Ferrari. The reason I think this is because my immediate response was, "thats a bit naughty, dont forget no team orders". But that was also my immediate reaction when Hamilton was told Button would not try and pass him in Turkey and McLaren were not punished in any way for that. But as has been pointed out all over these debates, there are many examples to choose from of team orders in recent years, even though the rule was in place but not enforced.

    There is, I believe, a sense of irony that the rule was a reaction to what Ferrari did in 2002, and now because of Ferraris actions this season, they could very well have gotten rid of it too. It does make me chuckle sometimes when I think about it.

    I have no idea if this post makes any sense, because its late and I am tired, and cannot be bothered to re-read it. Apologies if it doesn't make sense, but well done for bothering to read this far.

  • Comment number 33.

    Actually that post wasn't as long as I thought, I still haven't re-read it yet though. May give it a shot in the morning when I have woken up.

  • Comment number 34.

    With so many permutations it will most likely come down to clumsy changes at the last corner. Not least, what if Vettel lets Webber through only for Alonso to later retire, he has then effectively ceded the championship to his hated team mate. Will Webber be told to give it back?

  • Comment number 35.

    Dangerous_Beans @31 - We have had the same debate here about the safety car and back markers. The procedure seems to have changed this season and is a complete farce because it has affected the outcome of the race on more than one occassion. I would love to hear what the experts have to say about this.

    I would also love to know why Jenson was brought in for a tyre change immediately after Hamilton? Hamilton was complaining about tyres but Jenson had no problems and the top three drivers carried on with the old tyres and also had no problems. Presumably the old McLaren team orders came in so that Jenson could not finish ahead of Hamilton - once again.

    I hope ALonso wins the Championship because he is by far the best driver and I hope that Vettel doesn't let Webber through as he is the best driver in Red Bull and shouldn't need to. As has been menmtioned upthread if Webber wins he might end up staying with Red Bull which would be a shame for the team. His constant whingeing has been painful and out of place in what was one of the happiest teams on the grid.

  • Comment number 36.

    If Seb will be in a position to support Mark, he'd better do it, because he should not forget that in life what goes around comes around. Later at some point is his career he might need this kind of support.

    I like all the guys, but I want Mark to win because he has a lifetime opportunity. Nando did it twice, Seb will have plenty of time.

    Hats off to Christian Horner, very wise man and not in a best position to be to manage 2 so well determined team mates.

  • Comment number 37.

    @Dave...I think you forget that Mark is one of the most fair play guys in the paddock. I am 100% sure that if he will be in a position where Vettel could be, he would help Vettel win the title.

  • Comment number 38.

    Interesting article again, thanks. All 3 contenders have made mistakes this year and all 3 have driven well enough to deserve a shot at the title. I hope it goes to Webber. The most likely scenario in Abu Dhabi is that a DNF will make team orders of any kind unnecessary but I think RB should have issued them in Brazil. Any other team would have done so. By adhering to their moral code (which by the way, whatever they say, did not lead them to support Webber during the midseason as they should have when he was on a roll) they have placed more pressure on their own drivers than their rival.

  • Comment number 39.

    In case you didn't notice, Schumacher admitted he let Rosberg through today. Do you think there will be any action taken?

    ------------------------------

    Not at all. My point is the complete opposite. No one should be penalised. Team orders are a reality and should be legalised. My complain was about the hypocrisy with the usual suspects jumping at Alonso and Ferrari's throats for the Greman GP incident and quite happily accepting the possibility of RB using team orders now.

  • Comment number 40.

    i agree that hamilton is effectively out of it now. but what happened to all those button fans who were claiming that he would finish ahead of lewis? i think its fair to state that button has been outclassed by his star team mate this season.
    also. i think the mclaren perfomance was shocking- alonso passed hamilton like he was passing a backmarker!
    i think that alonso is under more pressure than the 2red bull drivers because he knows they have a faster car and i just dont think he will have the pace to challenge for the front row. but as vettel said, there are no points for qualifying.
    lastly, vettel moving over for webber? i dont think so. christian horner would literally have to radio in vettel and tell him to move over! as 1 comment said earlier, racing drivers are all glory boys. and if you look and hear what vettel said in the driver's interview, he is pretty determined to win from my analysis.

  • Comment number 41.

    First of all congratulations to Red Bull for their first Constructors' Championship win, this is the ultimate recognition of all the hard work they've put in, by hiring the best staff to design their car and having the drivers to deliver the said-title. And this the rightful car that deserved the plaudits this season, after taking pole in almost every race.

    Abu Dhabi is more or less similar to Brazil, although the lap is much longer, so expect the Red Bulls to be mighty strong there. I think this race will be the case of whether the Red Bull hierarchy want one of their driver to win the WDC or want Vettel to win the WDC. I do believe that they will eventually see the light and want to secure the title for one of their drivers and not jeopardize that, so both Mark and Sebastian will be thoroughly briefed about what to do if any scenario happens.

    In the end, Hamilton and Button are out of it, Hamilton in particular couldn't offset the lack of speed of the car with his driving, but at least he put a good effort in and somehow managed to stay in the hunt for as long as he did. Some may even have noticed that he took notice of staying in the race rather than risking it all once again (like in Monza), he didn't try to defend 3rd place at the first corner against Mark, who probably would have harpooned him off the track again if he did.

    I just hope Red Bull don't screw up in Abu Dhabi, though it would be fun to see some Ferrari smoke out of Alonso's car on the last turn of the last lap.

  • Comment number 42.

    27. At 01:34am on 08 Nov 2010, Spamburger wrote:

    "one of the greatest F1 seasons there has ever been."

    Whoa! That's either some exaggerated propaganda or a journalist just out of school. Can't think offhand what made it "great" particularly. The team orders farce? Hmm.
    =================================================================================

    Have to agree, not been anything great about this season more than any other.

    Just like 2009 with Brawn's diffuser, one team (Red Bull) has had a clear advantage from an initial design factor.

    I, for one, shouted "cheat" (again) and hoped the FIA had learned from 2009 and would take action. Of course they didn't (again) and all the others had to copy and catch up.

    Only Red Bull's errors and reliability issues have stopped this year being a complete walk in the park, as last year was for Button, for whichever of their drivers may eventually win it.

    Frankly it's two years in a row when the Championships have been seriously devalued !

  • Comment number 43.

    My (sort of) dream scenario would be something like this:

    Vettel to quality on pole, with Webber 2nd and Alonso 3rd. Alonso makes a great start from 3rd and Webber tries to block him off. Neither guy gives way and they come together taking themselves both off.

    Meanwhile Vettel quickly builds up a comfortable lead ahead of the McLaren drivers before his marginal final engine gives way with 3 laps to go. Button, who has been leading Hamilton all this time in formation, then proceeds to allow Hamilton to overtake on the final corner of the final lap.

    Finally, after reading comments #2 and #6, the FIA are so impressed they announce that all constructors points are to revert to the old system with immediate effect, retrospective to the start of the season; thus giving Mclaren both the drivers and constructors championship.

    I'd then wake up...

  • Comment number 44.

    16. I think you are missing the point with your comment. The simple fact is that if Alonso hadn't got the 7 points when Massa moved over then he would be just one point in front of Webber meaning that as long as Webber finished in the first 9 ahead of Alonso he would win the title. I am talking here between those two drivers so please no comments about other drivers and other scenarios.

    That would have been far better than the scenario we have here with discussions regarding Vettel letting Webber pass so this subject is the making of Ferrari and nobody else. I for one would love to see Ferrari lose it through the team orders of another team because that would be no more than they deserve and karma.

  • Comment number 45.

    Once again excellent coverage by the BBC.

    Good result for Red Bull they've done the best job throughout the season and their car is unbelievably fast.

    Really hoping Lewis can do but realistically it’s down to 3 drivers and I'm hoping Webber takes the driver’s title.

    Finally, loved the item on the Lotus pit wall during Friday's practice session. The glass/mirror with the words "In case of Victory, Break Glass", nice touch.

  • Comment number 46.

    If Vettel is leading the final race from Webber and Alonso, he has no chance of being champion anyway and I think it is inconceivable that Red Bull will wish to hand Ferrari this championship. In a few years no one will remember which team won the constructor's title in 2010 but they will remember that Webber won the driver's title and that he was driving a Red Bull.

    This is Red Bull's championship to throw away and it wouldn't put the team in a good light if that happened. Alonso has always expected or demanded preferential treatment and Ferrari are quite used to accepting gifts handed on a plate while claiming that they deserved it, so I would personally be bitterly disappointed if Vettel went for personal glory.

    Ironic that the Alonso-Massa changeover at Hockenheim was considered bad for F1 – with absolute justification – but that similar manipulation in Abu Dhabi by Red Bull would actually give the sport some credit.

  • Comment number 47.

    #10 "I hope Lewis wins it but is unlikely...anyone but Alonso...he is a spoilt brat who was upstaged by a rookie in '07 and threw the toys out of his pram!! "
    _________________________________________________________________________
    Again with the same old song. Come on, grow up!
    Lewis was a good rookie who had the team doing all possible things to manage that Alonso didn't win the championship (nobody knows why he hired him). Even so, he couldn't as he was fighting against a two times world champion. This season we have seen who manages the races better under pressure. Did you see how Alonso overtook Hamilton in Brasil and Korea?
    I understand british wants Hamilton to win but this year the campionship goes to Australia (with team orders) or Spain (with team orders).

  • Comment number 48.

    What will happen if Vettel lets Webber pass so that he can finish first and then after a couple of laps, Alonso retires from the third position.....Will Webber give the position back???

  • Comment number 49.

    16# I fully agree - staggering amount of hypocracy in the comments around team orders.

    Neither Red Bull Driver deserves to win the championship as despite having the best car they are still behind in the driver`s championship. Alonso deserves the title as he has delivered the performances when it counts and done so with a car running 3rd in the constructors race.

  • Comment number 50.

    I agreed with martin and jonathan in the race, where they said Jenson needs to improve on his quali performance to have a better chance of winning the world title in the next few years.

    Lewis Hamilton. how much being held up by Petrov on his last quali lap.
    how much of a difference that would have made?
    quiet a bit if u ask me. second place and ahead of the red bulls.
    However that was not the case and he failed to pass hulkenberg ( or Uncle Bert - as alonso pronounced it) and was therefor out of contention for the win.
    However all is not lost, because last season he was pole and ahead at the start, and with a sulking webber ready to destroy his team mate and alonso with a lack of engine life.

    If u ask me Vettel is the man on form, (not alonso) two victories and a DNF from the lead shows he is on the up i believe he will be the one to watch in abu dhabi.
    Mark is very moody and ferrari are gonna feed of that so showing his emotions is not the best idea (maybe after the title is decided)

    predictions for next race:

    1.) Hamilton
    2.) Button
    3.) Massa

    Webber and alonso crash out
    vettel engine bow out
    Lewis is champion

  • Comment number 51.

    I agree with post number 44. The hypocrisy regarding team orders is coming from the Ferrari followers here. Let's get one thing straight, the only reason we are discussing the possibility of team orders in the final race is because Ferrari broke the rules in Germany. If they had not done so, Webber would only be a single point behind Alonso going into the final race.

    I have to admit it wouldn't be the most satisfactory way to decide a championship, but Webber winning through team orders in the final race would be better than Alonso winning the championship by 7 points or less. At least that way both drivers will have benefited through team orders at one race each.

    If Webber does beat Alonso to the championship after being let through by Vettel it would be nothing more than Ferrari deserve. I would find it hilarious if Vettel lets Webber through on the final lap for Webber to clinch the championship, then have the camera cut to Helmut Marko signing a cheque for $100,000 and handing it to Jean Todt. :)

  • Comment number 52.

    #49 clever words.

    This season ,Alonso has been the best driver. Red Bull only deserves constructors championship.
    And ...Kobayashi rookie of the year!

  • Comment number 53.

    Andrew,

    INteresting article which reads like it could have been written anywhere in the world, but you were track side. Will you be striking with your BBC colleagues? Was it a good trip to Brazil?

  • Comment number 54.

    #51 I have to admit it wouldn't be the most satisfactory way to decide a championship, but Webber winning through team orders in the final race would be better than Alonso winning the championship by 7 points or less. At least that way both drivers will have benefited through team orders at one race each.
    ______________________________________________________________________

    You talk about hypocrisy but you have plenty of it. If you were honest with your "high sport values" you would claim against Vettel letting pass Webber instead of desiring it.
    As I see if there are team orders in Abu Dhabi and Webber wins, it will be the F1 normal way and i will be happy for Webber.
    ALL TEAMS DID TEAM ORDERS IN THE PAST AND ALL TEAMS WILL DO IT IN THE FUTURE!

  • Comment number 55.

    "with a car running 3rd in the constructors race"

    Arguably that is because Button's contribution has been better than Massa's not because the McLaren is better than the Ferrari. This is not a dig at Massa who is coming back after his injury.

    A few people have argued the McLaren is better than the Ferrari based on this evidence.

  • Comment number 56.

    How i wish it could rain, thunder or even snow in abu dhabi and the front row crashes so that LH could win this championship! Anyway, worse comes to worst let webber clinch it - he will soon retire anyway.

  • Comment number 57.

    I'm an Aussie who has supprted Webber for some time. I felt bad for him in Turkey when it appeared all the experts bar RBR came out in his support. Then came the Front wing / #2 driver debarcle of Silverstone and my impressions of Sebatian in general were pretty low.

    Since then, watching his pre/post race interviews and the F1 Forum, my opinion has changed. Sure he has made some pretty stupid mistakes ie driving into Button, but he has also shown some increadible character for such an inexperienced driver. The way he handled his DNF last week spoke volumes about the sort of kid he is. Alonso, Webber even Button and Hamalton would have lamented the failure or luck or light situation, he just said "well thats racing".

    Yesterday at the winners interview he said words to the effect that it was very important for him to win today to demonstrate his character but next week would be different.

    On these past 2 interviews, I think he will let Mark by him, but only once it is clear that he can't win the title and that Mark will win it. Expect him to lead for much of the race, expect pole, expect the fastest lap times and if Mark can't beat out Alonso, expect Vettel to take the race.

  • Comment number 58.

    @sdiez (post 54)

    So you think it's fine for Alonso to benefit from team orders in Germany, but not Webber in Abu Dhabi? You clearly do not have any idea of what hypocrisy means.

    As I said it would not be a satisfactory way to see the driver's championship being won, but it would be even less so if Red Bull chose not to have team orders and lost out on the championship to Alonso by 7 points or less because Ferrari used team orders earlier in the season.

  • Comment number 59.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 60.

    Thats the first time than Andrew Benson has acknowledged the fact that Vettel has made the least mistakes of the contenders and barring reliability issues he would already have been World Champion. For all those praising Alonso, 3 of his wins have come with either Vettel's engine giving away or his team mate helping out. All of Vettel's wins have been on merit. Hoping for either an Alonso engine problem or better the McLarens buffering in between to force him out to a 5th position finish.

    Vettel for the youngest F1 world champion.

  • Comment number 61.

    @Spain71

    Please explain why it is OK for Alonso to benefit from team orders, but it would not be OK for Webber to do the same?

    If Alonso/Ferrari wanted honesty and sportmanship they should not have ordered Massa to move aside in Germany. If they had not done so we would not be talking about possible team orders now as there would be no need.

  • Comment number 62.

    The way I see it is Webber's in a really difficult position within the team. It's quite clear who Marko/Horner consider their "numero 1" driver and world champion. And it isn't Webber. The only option for Webber to win the WDC is if, come the end of the Abu Dhabi race (last 1 or 2 laps?), the order is: Vet-Web-Alo. Then, Vettel will cede his position to Webber (I assume without even the need for coded messages of the sort of 'save fuel' or similar).

    If, however there is any chance until then that the order isn't the above mentioned, then Vettel will not only be left, but greatly encouraged by (pretty much the whole of) the RB team to fight for the championship.

    This would be RB's dream scenario. And that's what they've been preparing for. Webber winning the WDC will only be a 'second best' option. And Webber knows this. And he understably isn't happy.

    To conclude, we're witnessing the situation where the "number 2" driver, being in front of the "number 1" driver has a smaller chance to win the world championship.

    Sounds familiar? Brazil 2007.. Although perhaps not as bad, as a FIA representative has not been appointed to ensure that Webber does not get a less favourable treatment by the team, or some unexplicable event occurs in his car (such as ceiling platforms falling on car the night before, highly unusual tyre pressures and so on like Fernando had to put up with during 2007).

  • Comment number 63.

    So who wins if Alonso comes 5th with Vettel first and Webber second next week? That puts all three on 256pts with Alonso and Vettel with the same number of wins, seconds, and thirds!

  • Comment number 64.

    @BRITTONDI

    Andrew mentioned that scenario and apparently Vettel would be champion due to having more fourth places than Alonso.

  • Comment number 65.

    @58 @sdiez (post 54)

    So you think it's fine for Alonso to benefit from team orders in Germany, but not Webber in Abu Dhabi? You clearly do not have any idea of what hypocrisy means.
    ______________________________________________________________________
    I quote what I said again:
    "As I see if there are team orders in Abu Dhabi and Webber wins, it will be the F1 normal way and i will be happy for Webber."

    Do you undestand these words? I won't complain of Red Bulls team orders in Abu Dhabi, I will hail Webber as if he wins (with or without orders) is because he is ahead of Alonso and he will deserve it.
    In the other side, if Alonso wins I will be happy because he will have made the best season of his life and also he would deserve it.
    And finally if Vettel or Hamilton win, i would also be happy because they also would have deserved it.

  • Comment number 66.

    @sdiez (post 65)

    Fair enough, but you also stated that if I had 'high sport values' I would not want Webber to win due to team orders. If he did win the championship after team orders were used I'd say that fairness would be restored as well as it could be. Alonso benefited from team orders in one race, and Webber will have done the same.

    I would much prefer that Webber wins without team orders though. If Alonso wins I hope it's by more than 7 points.

  • Comment number 67.

    In responce to no. 40 i don't think starting from 11th finishing 5th 0.9 seconds behind Hamilton can be discribed as outclassed.

  • Comment number 68.

    I think from my screen name it is clear the team and driver I support. But all in all, I think Alonso's drives in the second half of the season, after Germany, show that he is a supremely talented driver, except for what happened in Spa. Even more so when you consider he is not driving the fastest car on the grid.

    In my opinion if Red Bull or McLaren choose to adopt team orders in this race I will be disappointed in them as teams, seeing as they were highly critical of Ferrari after Germanys events. And therefore should stop trying to take the moral high ground in these situations. I am not saying it is OK for Ferrari to do it and no other team, I am saying that if they do choose to go down that route in Abu Dhabi they owe a bit of an apology to Ferrari for their comments earlier this season.

    But whatever way the drivers championship is decided, the winner of the championship is a deserving WDC.

  • Comment number 69.

    I was surprised when Webber signed for a further term with RB, even more surprised that RB offered it to him, although his performances and driving were worthy of it.
    Re-signing when he did at least protected his ambitions this year for a tilt at the title. I disagree overall though with the assumption that Webber has made more mistakes. Vettel's have been pretty high profile and more costly to himself and his team.
    Basically, Webber wasn't expected (by RB) to be the force he has this year which shows how much he was underestimated by the team.
    As to form, Vettel has had nothing to lose for the last series of races and has been going for it without pressure. Webber has led the pack and as we have seen countless times (Button last year & Hamilton in 2008) this creates huge pressure. The need to drive more conservatively, to protect what you have. It is a different mindset. Through his errors and his bad luck Vettel hasn't had this to such a degree.
    Alonso has also been able to throw some caution to the wind. His was a lost cause and yet he stands on the threshold of another crown courtesy of his teams focused attention and his own consumate skills.

    Interesting dilemma then next week. I would love Webber to grab pole and walk it with Vettel playing tail gunner, but that won't happen I suspect. Vettel has an edge on qually speed it seems and that cannot be denied. Will he then 'gift it' to Mark? Hmmm

    But if Alonso bins it, or breaks down then all bets are off. There could be tears at Red Bull for sure. Now that would be a turn up. Alonso out, the RB's tangle and don't finish and Lewis steals it. You couldn't make it up...........could you?

  • Comment number 70.

    There’s too many arguments and speculation about between Mark and Sebastian for WDC. Mark does not need Sebastian help because Sebastian will never let Mark to win. He is helping for himself. It's ridiculous for talking about Vettel is already helping Mark. Mark's WDC will not be worth if he wins by let him passing by Vettel. So Mark needs to tell Vettel "No thank you and do it for self”. I want Mark Webber to win WDC but eventually Alonso will win.

  • Comment number 71.

    "i think the mclaren perfomance was shocking- alonso passed hamilton like he was passing a backmarker!"

    Alonso passed Hamilton after Hamilton made a mistake. Furthermore the McLaren was the fastest on the track in the final sector, the sector Lewis was complaining about. He was overtaken by a driver in a slower car.

  • Comment number 72.

    Regarding the "team orders" issue:
    I'm surprised that no-one has commented on the fundamental difference between the Ferrari/Germany team orders situation and the hypothetical vettel-lets-webber-past-in-abu-dhabi situation.
    TEAM orders are banned and still illegal. However if a DRIVER takes the decision himself to allow his team mate past it is considered legal. That is why Massa tried to claim after the hockenheim race that it was his own decision to let FA past and not a decision taken for him by Ferrari.
    If Red Bull order Sebastian to let Webber past him in Abu Dhabi than all the claims on this forum of hypocrisy may well be correct. The chances are, though, that if Seb comes to realise he cannot win the WDC (in a 1st - Vettel, 2nd Webber, 3rd Alonso situation) then he'll let Webber through FOR the team rather than because they ordered him to, which is perfectly legal.

  • Comment number 73.

    #66. You keep repeating yourself but you don't add arguments to the discussion.

    From "Worldreference"
    hypocrisy: insincerity by virtue of pretending to have qualities or beliefs that you do not really have.

    Your words: "If he (Webber) did win the championship after team orders were used I'd say that fairness would be restored as well as it could be".

    As i see you claim against team orders so you are an hypocrite when you say fairness would be restored if Webber wins. Plain as simple.

    I think you hate Alonso so much that anything is valid for him not to win the WDC.

  • Comment number 74.

    Hamilton can still win it. Gets pole. Shoots off in first place. Vettel chasing does his usual banzai kamakazi move and takes out Webber and himself in the process. Alonso reverts to form and crashes into a barrier or blows his engine. Ok, unlikely but in F1 anything can happen! In all seriousness please, anyone but Alonso,...anyone!

  • Comment number 75.

    "As i see you claim against team orders so you are an hypocrite when you say fairness would be restored if Webber wins. Plain as simple."

    Unfortunately hypocrisy is not a sport. If it was the British would rule the world at it.

  • Comment number 76.

    #72 TEAM orders are banned and still illegal. However if a DRIVER takes the decision himself to allow his team mate past it is considered legal. That is why Massa tried to claim after the hockenheim race that it was his own decision to let FA past and not a decision taken for him by Ferrari.
    _____________________________________________________________________

    funny comment. I could argue that Massa was informed that Alonso was faster than him, so he realized (thinking in team spirit) that he should let him pass for a higher good for the team as he was showing every race that he was much slower than Alonso and he had no real options for the title. It was not an order it was only race information and Massa decided to use it that way...

    Come on guys!, do you really think we are idiots?

    None of the drivers would let anybody pass if they are not ordered to. There are no friends in the race. Have you ever compited in any sport? Any sportman wants him to win, ALWAYS!

  • Comment number 77.

    Some of you suffer from a serious "anti-Alonsitis"!!. And this really spoils the general debate. I wish you could keep your arguments with bias (I am biased towards Fernando myself) but without that stupid blinded hatred..

    If Alonso wins this championship (which I really hope he does although it won't be easy), it will be one of the biggest achievements in the history of F1. In his debut year with Ferrari, Fernando has been driving with a determination, self belief and mental strength reminiscent of the old F1 heroes. And not with the best car underneath. In fact, the all round absolute best car this year has been without a question the Red Bull, and the Mclaren to some extent. However, some of Fernando's races particularly towards the latter part of the season have been absolutely vintage.

    Fernando said he had to finish in the podium since Monza to fight for the championship, and that is what he's been consistently delivering - podiums (three wins and 2 third positions).

    After Monaco this year, when he crashed during third practice (this left him out of qualifying), he personally wrote a letter to each member of his team/engineers. The note said: "I am sorry. I promisse I will come back to fight for the title".

    And that is simply what he's done. This one of the reasons why he is the leader and the number 1 driver (apart from being consistently quicker than Massa - and by some margin..)

    Avanti Fer, Avanti!

  • Comment number 78.

    @72
    At last, someone who understands the fundamental difference between the two situations!
    And how about this scenario:
    Webber is leading, with Vettel in second and Alonso right on his tail, trying every trick in the book to force the young German to make a mistake. Eventually, Vettel cracks under the pressure, allowing Alonso the opportunity he's been waiting for.
    If you were Vettel, what would you do now?

  • Comment number 79.

    #78 Another funny comment.
    If Vettel cedes position is "great team spirit". Well done!
    If Massa does it is "team orders". Alonso should be punish!
    This post is becoming hilarious!
    What an arguments, pure fairness and totally in reason! Ha ha ha :-))

  • Comment number 80.

    @sdiez (post 73)

    I said 'fairness would be restored as well as it could be'. The final few words are important. Please stop deliberately misrepresenting what I am saying.

    Alonso benefited from team orders on one occasion. To balance things Webber should benefit to the same extent, which is what people are suggesting could happen in the final race.

    As I said before (which you have conveniently ignored so you could have a little rant) this is far from satisfactory, but it is as fair as we are ever going to get. I don't like team orders, but Ferrari generated this situation by using them and now can't complain if Red Bull do as well.

    As for stating I hate Alonso, you are clearly another one of his paranoid fans. I don't hate him at all. If Alonso finishes top by more than 7 points he'll be a deserved champion. If less than 7 I would argue that whilst still the champion it will be tainted.

    The best result on Sunday is that someone (whether it be Alonso, Webber, Vettel, or by some miracle Hamilton) wins the championship by winning the race without team orders affecting the final standings.

  • Comment number 81.

    Does anyone really believe Massa made the decision to let Alonso past on his own?

    Red Bull would play it the same way Ferrari did, by giving Vettel a message that means 'let your team mate through', although may choose to give it in a less obvious way!

    I really have to laugh at the Alonso fans being so afraid that their man will lose out in the same way that he profited in Germany. Personally I think the FIA should have just reversed Alonso and Massa's positions after the race. If they had we'd have been looking forward to a great final race with no prospect of team orders dictating the championship. I just hope that if Alonso wins that it is by more than 7 points. If so he'll have fully deserved his third championship.

  • Comment number 82.

    #76 None of the drivers would let anybody pass if they are not ordered to. There are no friends in the race. Have you ever compited in any sport? Any sportman wants him to win, ALWAYS!
    _________________________________________________________________
    sdiez I can't help but feel sorry for you, if you have such little faith in the human character! I have competed in several sports, including amateur motor racing, and if ceding 1st position to a team mate meant that they won a championship I had no chance of winning myself then of course I would do it, as would most people I think.
    Don't get me wrong, I agree that if there was still a chance of winning then anyone would fight tooth and claw for that chance, but if we're talking last corner of last race then I know what I'd do...

    @ sdiez again... re:funny comment. I could argue that Massa was informed that Alonso was faster than him, so he realized (thinking in team spirit) that he should let him pass for a higher good for the team as he was showing every race that he was much slower than Alonso and he had no real options for the title. It was not an order it was only race information and Massa decided to use it that way...
    _____________________________________________________________
    That is exactly what Ferrari DID try to argue.

  • Comment number 83.

    So much for the new points system ..... not a ha'porth of difference
    -----------------
    It wasnt meant to make a difference at the front!

  • Comment number 84.

    @ 68. A_Hamilton_Fan,
    I wish all Lewis's fans were like you.
    It seems to me rather stupid how some Hamilton's fans have turned into Alonso's haters and viceversa. It looks like the two drivers themselves have got over the 2007 season, why can't some of their supporters do the same?
    I support Alonso and think he is the best f1 driver, but I rate Hamilton as number 2 and I think he is a super-talented driver.

    And as to who deserves to win? Whoever ends up winning will fully deserve it.

  • Comment number 85.

    As a Lewis and Jenson fan, I'm slightly bummed that Jenson's out of the picture but let's face it, him staying in the picture after Brazil was always going to be a long shot.

    The important thing though is that Lewis is still in the picture and that was all I was realistically hoping for from Brazil. It isn't implausible he could:

    Win
    Alonso finish out of the points.
    Webber finish outside the top five.
    Vettel finish outside the top two.

    Stranger things have happened this season. Prior to Turkey I'd have thought that having my guys 3rd and 4th behind two teammates and the guys in front taking each other off was nothing short of fantasy.

    2010 world champion in order of preference:

    Lewis
    Webber
    Vettel
    Alonso

  • Comment number 86.

    I will re-iterate that I think this season has been a classic, both for the on track action and the controversy too (it is F1 after all!).

    As for a deserving champion, I reckon you cannot look too far past Fernando Alonso (I say this through gritted teeth, mind). At the business end of the season he has been so consistent and has taken advantage of the opportunities that have come his way, generally at the expense of Red Bull or McLaren.

    If it were a popularity contest Mark Webber would get my vote everytime out of the 3 drivers who have a realistic chance; an example of a driver who has made the most of his opportunities to get to the top.

    However, seeing as though this season has gone the way it has I would not be surprised to see Webber win in Abu Dhabi but Alonso finish 2nd, thus pipping the Aussie by 1 point. This would be after Vettel's engine gave up the ghost with 5 laps to go whilst leading!

    There would be a lot of controversy as Alonso got an extra 7 points from Hockenheim that some people thought he shouldn't have got, but Alonso will take it on the chin (so to speak!) and be a very satisfied 3 times world champion, something his talent deserves. I say this as an F1 fan, not an Alonso fan (see '07 for details!).

    Andrew - will you be treating us to another selection of title deciding races from the BBC archives to choose from?

  • Comment number 87.

    Interesting that nobody's mentioned the possibility of Webber pretty much voiding all team orders discussions by taking pole and keeping the lead into the first corner. I know that Vettel's the man in form, but Webber's still a great driver and is eminently capable of seizing pole for himself. It's still more likely that Vettel will have it, of course, but still.

    All three leading contenders would deserve a title if they won it. Alonso's in an inferior car and yet finds himself leading the championship, a remarkable feat given the superiority of the Red Bulls - and I don't like Alonso personally. Webber and Vettel have driven well all season, barring a few mistakes and mechanical hiccups, and would likewise deserve the title.

    I like the suggestion made by someone above about Ferrari somehow manoeuvring Massa and Alonso into 4th and 5th respectively during the race, hoping that the Red Bull drivers will completely crack under psychological strain. Ingenious idea, but it relies on a Mclaren being ahead of them, and Massa being able to have a good run in qualifying!

    Can't wait to see what happens - I have a feeling that a retirement will occur amongst the leading contenders.

  • Comment number 88.

    Barring engine failures Alonso isn't going to finish any worse than 3rd meaning Red Bull will have to have Webber winning ahead of Vettel to claim the WDC. That would be poetic justice for Alonso having 7 more points than he should anyway.

    For me Webber is the most deserving champion, incidents in Turkey and Spa show how immature Vettel is and despite being the best driver on the grid Alonso is quite a detestable character these days.

  • Comment number 89.

    Team orders, as has been pointed out repeatedly since Hockenheim, have always been a part of F1. What caused the justifiable outrage was the blatant manner in which Ferrari decided (again) to cheat the fans – some of whom would have had a substantial bet on the results – by manipulating a race well before Massa was considered a no-hoper in the championship.

    Had Massa managed to win that race, which may have been doubtful but not the point, it would have given him confidence and he actually may have been able to help Alonso's cause in the championship by denying a Red Bull or McLaren more than he did subsequently. As it was, from that race on, Massa looked a shadow of his former self. Another reason why it was handled badly.

    As for the weak argument pointing to Hockenheim in 2008 when Kovaleinen moved over for Hamilton, apart from the team messing up Hamilton's strategy – a major embarrassment had he not won – he was the best part of two seconds per lap quicker and leading the championship whilst Kovy was already effectively out of it.

    Those crying for Red Bull team orders not to be used in Abu Dhabi, this is precisely when they are required. No-one complained when Ferrari manipulated the Brazil race for Raikkonen to win in 2007 or when Raikkonen moved over for a very slow Massa in China 2008 which kept alive his championship hopes… it was expected.

    It seems that some who defended the fact that Ferrari got away with the German punishment this year (though, strangely, the fine wasn't returned) now feel that Red Bull should not operate in a manner that is expected and necessary at this stage of the championship.

  • Comment number 90.

    #80
    You have the same arguments that Bush.
    As terrorists don't play fair we can torture them violating all laws and sending them to Guantanamo with or without proofs. Everything is valid.

    If you have strong moral convictions you should not change them when the ocassion is better for your desires. You should claim against Vettel and also claim against Massa, but you should not take Webber's victory as justice. That's a twisted way of justice as Bush had it.

    Maybe I'm paranoid fan but I don't see you claiming for the points (more than 7) that the FIA owes Alonso this year. Yes, safety car incident with Hamilton, and Kubica overtake drive though totally out of proportion (as David Coulthard said, he only should have ceded position).

    Anyway, i won't explain myself again in an endless discussion.

  • Comment number 91.

    @89 I would not complain about Red Bull using team orders in Abu Dabhi as I did not complain about Ferrari. What it is not possible is to call Alonso's victory "dirty" and do not do the same with Webber if Vettel lets him pass. That it is the last race has no relevance, they are the same team orders. So Webber winning in this way will be as "dirty" as Alonso winning for less than seven points. Coherence please.

  • Comment number 92.

    A senario that would be intresting would be if on the last lap it was 1.Ham 2.Web 3.Alo.

    Would Hamilton move over?

    Alonso hates Hamilton and Hamilton enjoys annoying Alonso. That would make an intresting podium celebration.

  • Comment number 93.

    @sdiez (post 90)

    "You have the same arguments that Bush.
    As terrorists don't play fair we can torture them violating all laws and sending them to Guantanamo with or without proofs. Everything is valid."

    Right there is where you became too pathetic to waste any more time on.

  • Comment number 94.

    There is a massive difference between being ordered to stand aside and doing the right thing. If Vettel didn't move over on a last lap where Webber could win the championship he would be perfectly entitled to but it would be a massive kick in the teeth for the team that has got him where he is.

    As for feeling the the WDC should have been his then he needs to remember the for 2 seasons in a row it hasn't been his year because he can't get the car to the finish - this year has been worse as he almost brought 2 other drivers down with him.

    It should also be pointed out that he started outqualifying Webber consistently after they swapped over the drivers chassis which emphasises the other big story of the year.

    He's an amazing driver he just needs to mature a bit and listening to the last interview maybe he's doing just that.

    The Red Bulls are clearly faster than anyone else McClaren have said it, Alonso knows it - fully expecting Webber to be WDC and retire next week.

  • Comment number 95.

    @91 Redsilver
    As I said in post #72 the difference is that what ever code was used or however Ferrari embelish it, the truth I think we all accept is that Massa was ordered by his team to move over against his will in order to favour Alonso.
    Now if Vettel is TOLD by red bull to allow Mark past then you're right and it will be just as 'dirty' as hockenheim. However isn't it fair to say that despite their differences, there is a good chance that Vettel will decide to allow Mark past in order for a red bull driver to win the WDC rather than a Ferrari? His decision, therefore not team orders, therefore technically different and legal.

  • Comment number 96.

    I don't think Hamilton's quest is quite finished, especially with all the twists and turns we've seen already in 2010. Both Alonso & Vettel are using tired engines. Red Bull is unquestionably the fastest car but we've only seen them demonstrate this in the race when out in front and not under any pressure - it's been fairly banzai stuff when they've been in amongst it. I would be the least surprised if Alonso broke down at some point, or if Vettel & Webber took each other out of it again (an even more likely scenario if Alonso does blow up early) And Hamilton, on form, is next on the list to pick up the win. I don't particularly like the guy, but if Alonso can't finish the job in Abu Dhabi, I'd like to see Hamilton win against all the odds.

    As for team orders - why the furore?? Seriously? What's the point in having two-car teams if you can't use it to your advantage? If teams can't collaborate between their drivers, why don't we have 24 independent teams on the grid, running one car each, and end the debate? Why are people feeling cheated out of a sporting spectacle when one car lets the other through for the sake of the lead driver's championship? Why is it a surprise - we KNOW the situation before the race even starts, we should expect it. I had no problem with Massa letting Alonso through in Hockenheim and equally, I would have no complaints if Vettel let Webber through on the last lap next weekend. If the team are strong enough to put themselves in a position to do so, then as far as I'm concerned, they have earned that right. It's a TEAM sport!

    (I know the rules say what the rules say, I mean the rules should be changed/clarified because it's becoming a bit of a mockery)

    One final thought - let's say Vettel leads from Webber with Alonso comfortable in third going into the latter stages of the race - Ferrari know that Seb could (and probably would) cede to Mark close to the end to give him the title - and the Red Bulls come up to lap a flagging Massa... What penalty would Felipe be open to receiving (short of a drive-through, obviously) on the final race of the season if he were to ignore blue flags and/or compromise the Red Bulls to give Alonso a chance of 2nd (i.e. take out / slow down a RB) I know it would be terrible sportsmanship but I'm just curious (as is Stefano Domenicali, I'm sure...) I don't agree with it myself - but wouldn't the temptation be there for Ferrari?

    ("Felipe, Webber is coming up to lap you - do you understand???...")

    Come on Fernando - see it through lad!!

    Lewis - stick around, it ain't over till it's over!

    What a season!

  • Comment number 97.

    For all the talk about Red Bull losing points due to unreliability and McLaren tailing off at the end of the season and just not quite having it...

    I know the stewards disagreed but I still feel Mark Webber 'helped' Lewis round in Singapore and it wasn't a straight case of Hamilton being too agressive. If he hadn't and Lewis had finshed in front of him (not too big a reach), Mark would now be on 235 points and Lewis 237.

    One tiny nudge from a competitor and 'McLaren had form at the end of the season'. Mark's a lucky boy.

  • Comment number 98.

    Regarding what happened with Ferrari back in Austria, I seem to remember something abour team orders being banned unless it was at the end of the season when the driver being told to give way to his teammate was not in a position to win the championship, but could help his teammate do so. I also believe that this was later revised to no team orders at all. However we all know that team orders have been given. And we end up with the farcical situation in Germany when everyone knows team orders were given in the form of a code. It should also be obvious that Massa is only saying it was his decision to avoid futher problems for Ferrari.
    Now we come to Abu Dhabi. It is quite possible that accidents and blown engines aside, the latter stages of the race could see the top three in the order Vettel, Webber and Alonso. Would it be in the rules for Red Bull to ask Vettel to let Webber through? The strict answer is no, though the FIA would seem to be willing not to punish Red Bull if they did. Would two wrongs make a right, equally no. However an Alonso win by less than 7 points will be a tainted victory - but even that will be forgotten in a few years
    In the above situation, coming to the end of the race Vettel would ask the team the positions, and having been told I believe he will let Webber through. By not doing so the drivers title would go to Alonso in a Ferrari. By doing so the title will go to Webber in Red Bull. Vettel would not want anyone else to win the WDC but himself, but as a Red Bull driver he cannot prefer the WDC to go to a driver of another team irrespective of his feelings towards Webber.
    My preference is for Hamilton to defy the odds and win the championship, however they are very long odds. Second choice would be Webber as this will probably be his last chance whereas Hamilton, Vettel and Alonso should all be in a position to fight for the title another time. If Webber does stay with Red Bull next year he already knows the team will be based around Vettel,and there are not other good enough options for him before he calls it a day.
    Well that is my opinion, hope it doesn't upset too many people

  • Comment number 99.

    16. At 10:53pm on 07 Nov 2010, solfan wrote:
    Yeah. Great season. I have enjoyed it inmensely.

    I have to add I find it unvelievable that after all that has been wrtitten and said against Ferrari for applying team orders, everybody now, from commentators to drivers to team management are all talking about how Vettel will let Webber through if he needs it to become DWC. So matter of fact. But wasn't it illegal? I find the level of hypocresy is unreal.

    Those who don't raise their voice now to say Vettel should never let Webber through, will have no moral ground to question Alonso's point when he gets the championship next week.

    It is clearer than ever that team orders are a reality. So, please FIA, change the rules and stop all this nonsense.
    ====================
    There is a subtle difference. Massa received direct orders from the team that were decided during the race, implemented because of the position that the cars were in during the race of the cars, and not predetermined, and everyone heard it.


    If Vettel decides to let Webber through that is Vettels decision that has no bearing on what is hapening in the race as it a points position that stands, stands right now. It would be very difficult to demonstrate that the team instructed Vettel to do that and not that Vettel made a decision in the best interests of the team.

    As for the hypothesis of the dilema that if it was engineered by Ferrari that it was Vettel, Webber, Massa, Alonso to give Vettel the chance to win but then Massa "decided" to let Alonso through....

    I really can't see Massa having significant pace to engineer that scenario without slowing up Alonso so the likes of Button and Hamilton put pressure on Alonso.

    If it goes the way of the Brazillian GP then Vettel will made the decision for the good of RBR

  • Comment number 100.

    #16 Solfin: You are 99% spot on when you say: "I find it unvelievable that after all that has been wrtitten and said against Ferrari for applying team orders, everybody now, from commentators to drivers to team management are all talking about how Vettel will let Webber through if he needs it to become DWC. So matter of fact. But wasn't it illegal? I find the level of hypocresy is unreal".

    The reason I say 99% is because I trully find the level of hypocrisy totally real ...and expected.

    By the way, I simply looooved the way Alonso passed by Hamilton (and Hulk) ...anyone still doubts ALO in no. 1?

 

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