Debate: How will the title be decided?

Posted on | Author Keith Collantine

Chinese Grand Prix 2007, Shanghai International Circuit, start | GEPA / Mathias KniepeissWe’ve had plenty of discussion in the past week about whether Lewis Hamilton, Fernando Alonso or Kimi Raikkonen deserves to be champion.

But what do you actually think will happen on Sunday?

Here’s a couple of likely and unlikely scenarios that came to my mind – how do you think the title will be won in Brazil?

Tyre trauma

I think tyres are going to be a big factor in Interlagos. Bridgestone are bringing the two softest compounds, and when they were used at Monaco and Hungary we saw McLaren do very well.

But the track has also been resurfaced, which might favour Ferrari more. But on balance I think we’re likely to see the two McLarens up front, and so even if Alonso finishes first and Hamilton second, the Briton will be champion.

Unless, that is, one of the Ferraris overtakes him, and then we’re looking at Alonso and Hamilton potentially tied on points, with Alonso winning the title by dint of having won more races??????

(Sadly for the track owners, some clumsy worker apparently spilled a tin of paint all over their nice clean new track. D’oh!)

Controversial crash

We’ve seen plenty of them in the past, but with three drivers in the running it doesn’t make sense for one driver taking another out of the race.

But the enmity between the two McLaren drivers now runs so deep that it’s not inconceivable that, should one of them be rendered unable to win the championship, they might rather see their Ferrari rival Raikkonen lift the trophy??????

Backmarker blunder

Say hello F1 debutante Kazuki Nakajima. Let’s hope that if he ends up getting lapped he doesn’t trip up the leader as his father did at this very track 17 years ago.

Interlagos has a history for this kind of thing. It was here that Jos Verstappen took Juan Pablo Montoya when the Columbian was heading for victory in his third Grand Prix.

Pop goes the engine

The final race of the season would be a most inopportune moment for an engine failure. Alonso is the only one of the three contenders to have to use the same engine he had in Shanghai, which would make him a contender for a shock retirement.

It would look highly suspicious given that the FIA are placing a steward at McLaren specifically to ensure fair play between the two drivers (not that there had been any evidence of any such impropriety by McLaren all year long, but that’s another argument).

But car failures tend to hit the drivers you least expect to suffer from them. So not Raikkonen, then, who’s had plenty this year already. No, if someone’s car’s going to break down, it will be Hamilton’s.

Rain again

Or not. Drizzle is expected on Friday, but early predictions that rain would fall on race day have now been revised and a dry race is expected.

But a wet track on Friday could increase the teams’ setup headaches given that they’re already coping with a new surface.

Dirty side

The phenomenon of the dirty side of the track has played a major role in races this year – just look at how drivers on the adverse side of the grid have struggled to get away at races such as the Turkish round.

Expect it to have a pronounced effect in Interlagos as well, which is typically quite dusty and, of course, the surface is brands new this year. As ever, pole position is the place to be, so expect another fierce and (for McLaren) closely scrutinised battle.

For Ferrari the smart thing to do would surely be to short-fuel Massa to get him on pole, and try to hold the McLarens up. But that’s easier than it sounds, and could land the team in hot water over using team orders.

So who’s going to win?

My prediction is that Hamilton will win the title. This is why:

1. It’s very rare for anyone other than McLaren and Ferrari to get into the top four. Therefore Raikkonen is in trouble, because he needs Hamilton to finish sixth or lower.
2. After that, all Hamilton needs to do is finish right behind Alonso. The pair have been very evenly matched all year, and unless Alonso tries any funny business, Hamilton can do it.

But remember what I said about unreliability. It always strikes the driver you least expect it to. As Michael Schumacher may well recall from last years Brazilian Grand Prix??????

Photo: GEPA / Mathias Kniepeiss

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