The Japanese Grand Prix changed the complexion of the championships radically. Have a look at who can win what, and how, in our stats update.
With a second place finish in Brazil, Pedro de la Rosa could equal in eight races what Juan Pablo Montoya scored in ten. If he gets to race at all, that is, for GP2 champion and McLaren protege Lewis Hamilton is widely tipped to be drafted in for the last race.
Jarno Trulli led Toyota team mate Ralf Schumacher home in Japan, but still trails him by five points.
So, too, has the battle for third, in which the championship protagonists’ team mates are separated by a single point. Kimi Raikkonen is in the hunt too, but his chances of taking third are almost as slim as Schumacher’s of taking first.
Schumacher’s chances would by slightly better were the pre-2003 points system being used. He would trail Alonso by nine points instead of ten, therefore he would have to win in Brazil with Alonso sixth or worse to be champion (instead of ninth or worse).
A Ferrari one-two at Interlagos would not be enough to give the Scuderia the title if Renault finished third and fourth. They would need their French rivals no better than fourth and fifth which would tie the title on points and put Ferrari ahead by dint of having more wins.
Whatever happens, the Hondas will be numbered seven and eight next year – but only McLaren could have the number one. Were Schumacher to win the drivers’ title his vacant Ferrari would carry number zero in 2007 – on a car for the first time since Damon Hill’s Williams in 1994.
Ralf Schumacher had his best qualifying session of the season in Suzuka, becoming the 11th driver this year to start a race from inside the top three. Although Jarno Trulli has started fourth three times and is generally regarded as a master of qualifying, it is Ralf who has had a slightly better average starting position (10.18 vs 10.76).
Michael Schumacher’s engine failure mean that both he and Fernando Alonso have finished the same number of races. Alonso has had two mechanical failures, Schumacher one, the other retirement being his crash in Melbourne.
Felipe Massa is now the only driver to have started every race this year without being sidelined by a mechanical failure.
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