Will Raikkonen, Heidfeld or Kovalainen?s 2008 title hopes end in Singapore?

Kovalainen is out of the title race if he loses three points to Hamilton in Singapore

Kovalainen is out of the title race if he loses three points to Hamilton in Singapore

The first ever Singapore Grand Prix could influence the F1 title battle in many ways.

But one of the most interesting changes could be in the role the team mates of championship leaders Lewis Hamilton, Felipe Massa and Robert Kubica have to play in the subsequent races.

Any one of their team mates ?ǣ Heikki Kovalainen, Kimi Raikkonen and Nick Heidfeld ?ǣ could be out of the championship running by Monday morning.

Kimi Raikkonen

57 points, 21 behind Hamilton*

Raikkonen?s title hopes are over if he fails to score at Singapore and Hamilton or Massa wins. Raikkonen hasn?t scored in the last three races and hasn?t won a race since the Spanish Grand Prix in April.

Since finishing ninth at Monza and falling 20 points behind team mate Massa, conflicting remarks have come from Ferrari about whether he will be expected to support his team mate ?ǣ and whether he will comply.

Asked if he would support Massa over the final four rounds Raikkonen answered: ??I don’t know. We will see what happens.?? He later admitted he hasn?t given up on winning the title yet:

It’s not over yet, but now it will take a miracle, one that makes lightning strike twice. I will never forget what happened last year and I want to repeat it again.

Given the astonishing deficit he overcame in the final races of last season you can?t blame him. But team boss Stefano Domenicali seems to be leaning towards Massa:

I’ve always said that our main interest is the team. Of course, that’s the most important thing and the drivers know it. At this moment, at this stage, you can see that we haven’t, in our situation, taken away points from one or the other, and for sure, considering from now up to the end of the season, in the way that it’s possible to do, of course Kimi will do his best to be as aggressive as possible but also consider the fact that Felipe is much closer to the leader, Lewis.

Heikki Kovalainen

51 points, 27 behind Hamilton

Part of Ferrari?s concern about getting Raikkonen to help Massa is probably motivated by Kovalainen being further behind Hamilton.

In fact before Monza he was even further behind, but took six points off his team mate and probably postponed the date when he will be expected to support Hamilton?s title bid by one more race. That could prove crucial.

Kovalainen has repeatedly denied he was required to support Hamilton from the beginning of the season, often quoted as saying ??[Hamilton] doesn?t need my help?, and similar.

But McLaren won?t hesitate to use Kovalainen to support Hamilton?s title bid once he is mathematically incapable of winning the title himself, just as Ferrari did with Massa last year. That will happen if Hamilton takes three points off his team mate or if Massa beats Kovalainen by four points.

Nick Heidfeld

53 points, 25 behind Hamilton

Heidfeld is Mr Consistency: he?s finished every race since France last year and if he does 55 laps around the Singapore Marine Bay on Sunday he?ll break Michael Schumacher?s record for most consecutive finishes.

Heidfeld, 11 points off Kubica, is closer to his team mate than the other two ??number twos? are to their. But there?s an air of tension in the team as Mario Theissen postpones confirmation of BMW’s driver line-up for 2009, presumably while he checks Fernando Alonso?s terms and conditions.

Meanwhile Kubica is pressing the team to seize the initiative, stop worrying so much about 2009, and throw its weight behind his title effort this year. With the BMW not quite on McLaren/Ferrari pace on a clear day, Kubica probably needs that kind of support more keenly than Hamilton or Massa.

If Heidfeld loses five points to Hamilton or six to Massa this weekend his championship chances are over. We’ll be keeping a close eye on these developments and more during the F1 Fanatic Live Blogs.

*These calculations are based on the championship standings prior to Lewis Hamilton?s appeal against his Belgian Grand Prix penalty. Were Hamilton to get his win back, his title lead over Raikkonen would increase to 25 points. Kovalainen and Heidfeld would be 31 behind, as Heidfeld?s race classification at Spa would change from second to third.

Which F1 drivers do you think will be out of the championship running after this weekend?

Full F1 championship standings after the Italian Grand Prix

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22 comments on Will Raikkonen, Heidfeld or Kovalainen?s 2008 title hopes end in Singapore?

  1. Madurai said on 23rd September 2008, 7:50

    KOVI was just signed to just to protect HAMILTON on occassions……

  2. Nick Caulfield said on 23rd September 2008, 9:14

    I think you mean “…by Kovalainen being further behind Hamilton” rather than “…by Kovalainen behind further behind Hamilton”

  3. Madurai said on 23rd September 2008, 9:21

    Nick I was just trying to tell that KOVI was just signed to mclaren to act as second fiddle to HAMILTON just like MAS was signed to ferrari in 2006….

  4. Madurai said on 23rd September 2008, 9:23

    KOVI was maginally faster tnan HAM at the starting of the season.But only GOD knows why he is so far behind now…..

  5. Jonesracing82 said on 23rd September 2008, 9:26

    depends on the appeal outcome but if hamo gets his pts back, maybe they all could b just about out of it, but i doubt weather of them can still win in any case……

  6. Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 23rd September 2008, 9:34

    Nick – Fixed, thanks.

    Madurai – he was referring to the error in my article, not your comment.

  7. Madurai said on 23rd September 2008, 12:54

    Sorry that was my mistake…

  8. Whewbacca_the_Cookie said on 23rd September 2008, 13:03

    Realistically speaking Kovalainen or Heidfeld does not stand a chance on winning the title anyway. Even Raikkonen will need another miracle to do so. What happened last year will not be repeated this time around.

    That said I think Kubica’s chances are pretty slim as well. He may be quick but not enough to pass both Massa and Hamilton.

  9. I think Heidfeld is the only one likely to lose out, but he has been ahead of Kubica in a few races, so there’s no reason why he cannot still keep trying.
    There is an element of luck required for all three – Kimi will be rejuvinated after getting a new contract (we hope), and may be pushing harder again. Kovi is learning all the time, and has shown that he can beat Hammy, so why not give him as much chance as possible?
    Mathmatically it may be harder for all three, but stranger things have happened…..

  10. Raikkonen has the only chance with Hamilton and Massa both incapable of handling pressure, wouldn’t be a surprise to see two dnfs from the pair.

  11. Nick: “Raikkonen has the only chance with Hamilton and Massa both incapable of handling pressure, wouldn’t be a surprise to see two dnfs from the pair.”

    I think that that is a bit of a sweeping statement, I think last year showed how hamo can handle the pressure. Massa I think would sturggle if it was him defending to win the championship. I rate him but I just think that maybe he will make silly mistakes.

    I think that Kimi and below are out of the running, and Kubica, BMW just havent put enough emphasis on their 2008 campaign on the backend of the season.

  12. Looking at your report and my own calculations: I figure, Nick, kova, Kimi need to finish 1-2-3 and Hamilton finishes 5th or lower so that all 6 remain in title contention.
    That would be a fitting gift for Mr.consistent, for his reliability record.
    But, I guess its asking a little too much.

    Ofcourse, all this will be meaningless once Hamilton wins his appeal

  13. yeah they are all out, its down to hamilton and massa.

    we’ve seen some pretty crazy things happen this year, engine failures, safety cars, so many wet tracks, crashes at red lights, penalties and more. I think for the last 4 races we wont see too much more silly stuff – or DNF’s.

    the next 1-2 races will be crucial, if they both finish high, then it could go down to the wire, otherwise if in the next 2 races there’s a dnf, or a low finish it could be a bit of a blow.

    As much as i want massa to win the WDC, my money would be on hamilton, faster car, some more wet tracks coming up and he is consistent and fast on track – just seem some stupid mistakes that i think he’ll be avoiding from here on in.

    i wouldn’t be too worried about the 1 point difference if i was a hamilton fan, i am worried as a massa fan.

  14. ‘i wouldn’t be too worried about the 1 point difference if i was a hamilton fan, i am worried as a massa fan.’

    Agreed. Whilst it’s a mathematical possibility for the others to stay in contention, I believe it will still come down to Massa and Hamilton. Though, anything can happen…

    But as Todd said: Hamilton is in a better and more adaptable car and in my opinion is a much better driver than Massa. If I had a fiver, i’d put it on Hamilton to take the championship this year.

  15. There is only Kimi who has faidingly little chance to win championship, but I think it is not realistic target anymore… still hoping I´m wrong=)

    Anyhow….Massa is not same level as Hamilton(my opinion) when talking driving skills, or even handling pressure(Hamilton too is not very good to handle pressure). BUT,there is that little thing…Kimi is better driver to support his team mate, and takeaway points from Hamilton than Heikki to do this for Massa.

    Anything can still happen,so let´s see…

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