COUNTDOWN TO BUDDH: A SCENARIO:
With just a WEEK left to go for the second-ever Indian GP at Noida, as predicted, the title race (not so much the Constructors standings) is going down to the wire.
3 perfect weekends (Singapore, Suzuka and Korea) for Red Bull and Vettel means that the German is 6 points clear at the top of the table- a statistic that looked near-impossible when he was 48 points behind Alonso with 10 races to go. But as we know, like in 2010, despite an inconsistent season, Vettel is capable of peaking at the right moment- an ability that hurts his rivals the most. Getting it altogether after being pushed to the brink must take tremendous skill and courage for a driver so young, and this could be a third Championship in a row- after stealing it in the last race in 2010 and dominating 2011.
From Gangnam to Kolaveri
What is remarkable is his ability to win over a long run, over the entire length of a season, in three different ways so far. If 2012 is his year too, he can very well boast of being able to win from anywhere, at anytime, no matter how tough the going gets- with as many ex Champions in the field as possible.
Alonso can’t be too heartbroken just yet, because if there was ever destiny- with both drivers chasing a record third Championship- this could be it, after being on the receiving end in 2010. Yet to achieve the kind of dizzying success he had expected to with Ferrari over 3 years, Fernando has put himself in a position to challenge, if not outrun the fastest car of the decade. A 28 points gap has been overturned over 3 races, but he can’t look back and feel disappointed. Given the form of his car (and some bad luck) compared to the frontrunners, he should feel pretty satisfied with his podium finish in Korea- after being shunted out of contention at the first corner at Suzuka. His job, as he will very well be aware of, is to somehow keep pace with Vettel and limit the damage to a place-difference for the next 2 races. The last race is always a match of nerves and pressure, and very rarely does the leading driver have control in such nail-biting situations. Another crash, or retirement for Alonso could mean the end, and he will be praying that Vettel does not repeat his Buddh International Circuit form of 2011 next week. A 6 point lead doesn’t sound like much, and India could very well define Alonso’s destiny- a journey that started in 2005, and has been deferred indefinitely.
"You got a year more to not embarrass yourself further!"
Kimi Raikkonen has to be lauded for once again finishing within the top 5, and maintaining a strangehold over that 3rd position in his comeback year. He has outraced Lewis Hamilton over a longer time, despite the Brit’s 3 race wins, and his consistency is a lesson to most Championship Contenders- something that his young challenger Hamilton had taught the world back in his debut season in 2007- where he finished on the podium 8-9 times before winning a race. While Hamilton concedes that the title race is over for him, he must concentrate on not embarrassing his team before leaving them, and somehow holding onto 4th before looking ahead at Raikkonen. Mark Webber is back in form, thanks to a quick turnaround for Red Bull, and it could look difficult for even Raikkonen to hold onto 3rd if this continues.
Jenson Button’s Championship was over 5 races ago, but he is doing well to stay within his teammate and demonstrate that he still had a bright future with McLaren (and with Perez) next year.
Schumacher’s miserable last season continues after he finished out of the points at Korea, and he must already be warming up to a behind-the-scenes role at Mercedes, where he could join forces with Lewis Hamilton next year. That should be a very interesting partnership, along with Ross Brawn
…And they’re back!
It’s time for the INDIAN GRAND PRIX 2012, and one expects this annual event to be even more smoothly organized, better-managed and logistically improved since a successful 2011 stint, just so that the rest of the country who were busy contemplating whether to get a piece of F1 action last year- could just make their way to Noida (with some earmuffs) and make a speedy weekend out of it.
Will it be Vettel, Alonso or…finally, Raikkonen?