Obviously there is the boring maths bit, who needs to finish where to clinch what. But I was more interested in the different strategies that can be employed by the drivers.
On reflection I concluded that of the three title contenders I would most prefer to be Kimi Raikkonen.
Kimi Raikkonen: nothing to lose
Why? Well first Kimi is fully expected to come away from Interlagos third in the Championship – anything else would be a major bonus.
Second, Raikkonen is going into the race with something that neither Alonso nor Hamilton have at their disposal and that is the use of a team-mate to assist in his goal.
As the McLaren garage descends into a turf war, Ferrari have Felipe Massa at their disposal and the little Brazilian no mean driver at Interlagos.
Ferrari could deploy Massa in a number of ways. On one hand they could qualify him on fumes and let him streak away into the lead. However this strategy would only serve to partially neutralise Alonso, after all Hamilton can sit pretty in 3rd or 4th and not worry too much until Fernando makes a move.
Alternatively there is the human wrecking ball approach. Were Massa to eliminate one or two McLarens at the first turn it would certainly make Kimi Raikkonen’s life much easier. Agreed it is an approach that goes well beyond ethically dubious, but it certainly add a giant ‘what if’ to the proceedings.
Fernando Alonso: points against him
At McLaren life gets far more complicated. I don’t think that any team in the history of F1 will have gone into any race weekend under such intense scrutiny. The ‘fair play Tzar’ is possibly the most stupid of the many idiotic suggestions to have originated in Max Mosley’s brain during 2007.
Fernando Alonso has garnered so many headlines for paranoia and downright dastardliness that it is easy to forget that he has driven superbly throughout most of 2007.
Let’s not forget too that had it not been for the (in my view unnecessary) intervention of the stewards in Hungary Fernando would most likely have been coming into the weekend on the cusp of a third successive title.
As it stands, the current points system works against the Spaniard who must really rely on misfortune befalling Hamilton to stand a chance of success.
Coming from a points deficit the Spaniard must keep it clean and on the track to record a finish and remain in contention. Likewise given the hysteria currently surrounding his every breath, even the slightest hint of aggressive driving will probably result in a penalty.
Lewis Hamilton: watch your back, sides and front
Of course Lewis Hamilton must keep it clean too. Unlike Suzuka in 1989 when Alain Prost could close the door on Ayrton Senna without jeopardising his title chances, Hamilton cannot risk an incident eliminating himself and Alonso as that would allow Raikkonen through to victory.
It is not the most dignified way to win a Championship either, although that never bothered Michael Schumacher.
All told the runes are pointing to a title fight that must be decided on the track where all three protagonists have to stay in the running to stand any chance of bagging the glory.
My prediction? I think Lewis for the championship, a Raikkonen race victory, and Alonso starting with a 10-place grid penalty following a disastrous engine blow-up in practice.
Photo: Ferrari media
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