F1 may not have a close title fight but these five do

Why you should watch...

Start, IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix, 2011

Start, IndyCar Baltimore Grand Prix, 2011

Sebastian Vettel’s rivals have all-but conceded this year’s championship following his eighth win of the season at Monza.

So if you’re looking for a close championship battle, now’s the time to cast your gaze beyond Formula 1.

Here’s a selection of top racing series with rather more exciting championship battles.

IndyCar

Driver Points
1 Dario Franchitti 507
2 Will Power 502
3 Scott Dixon 430

In the past three races, Will Power has cut Dario Franchitti’s lead from 62 points to just five.

IndyCar’s mix of road, street and oval courses will play a role in deciding the outcome of this championship: Franchitti tends to do better on ovals, Power on road and street courses.

This weekend’s race in Japan was supposed to take place on the Motegi oval. But that was damaged during the March earthquake so the teams have switched to the road course instead, which could be good news for Power.

After that Power has two races on ovals to contend with, in Kentucky and Las Vegas. Last year he went into the final round 12 points up on Franchitti, but the title slipped from his grasp.

Will Franchitti beat Power again to claim his third championship in a row?

Adding more intrigue to the season finale, Indianapolis 500 winner Dan Wheldon will return to compete for a special prize. He’ll bag $2.5 million if he wins from last on the grid, with the same amount going to a fan at the race.

This one’s too good to miss, so we’ll be following the last two rounds on F1 Fanatic Live.

Races remaining: Three
Points: 50 for a win, two for most laps led and one for pole position
Will I be watching?: Definitely. UK coverage is on Sky Sports.

British Touring Car Championship

Driver Points
1 Gordon Shedden 182
2 Matt Neal 181
3 Mat Jackson 159
4 Jason Plato 147
5 James Nash 135
6 Andrew Jordan 121

After a few shaky years, the BTCC is well and truly back to its best. That’s why I’ve already been to four rounds this year, at Brands Hatch, Thruxton, Oulton Park and Snetterton.

Honda team mates Matt Neal and Gordon Shedden are at the front of the title battle and they’ve already collided earlier this year.

Mat Jackson slipped to third after a disastrous meeting in Knockhill.

Reigning champion Jason Plato’s hopes of retaining his crowd will be boosted this weekend at Rockingham as BTCC continues to fine-tune the current rules balancing the performance of the cars. Plato’s normally-aspirated Chevrolet will be unaffected, but several of his rivals will have less turbo boost and more weight.

The Silverstone finale is in the afternoon following the Korean Grand Prix and ahead of the IndyCar final at Las Vegas, which will make for a great day of racing on F1 Fanatic Live.

Start, British Touring Cars, Knockhill, 2011

Start, British Touring Cars, Knockhill, 2011

Races remaining: Nine (Three triple-headers)
Points: 15 for a win, one for fastest lap and leading a lap, and one for pole position for race one of each weekend
Will I be watching?: Unfortunately I can’t make it to any of the remaining rounds but I will be watching ITV’s excellent live coverage.

World Series by Renault

Driver Points
1 Robert Wickens 198
2 Jean-Eric Vergne 164
3 Daniel Ricciardo 125
4 Albert Costa 120
5 Kevin Korjus 118
6 Alexander Rossi 116

Robert Wickens, who had his first run in an F1 car with Virgin on Tuesday, has a healthy 34-point margin with 100 points to be won in the World Series by Renault.

But he’s up against strong opposition in the shape of Red Bull development drivers Jean-Eric Vergne and Daniel Ricciardo, both of which have British F3 championship titles to their name.

Ricciardo, runner-up in this series last year, is a creditable third having missed the first two races while on duty for Toro Rosso.

Daniel Ricciardo, World Series by Renault, 2011

Daniel Ricciardo, World Series by Renault, 2011

Now racing in F1 for HRT, he may have to miss the final two races which clash with the Japanese Grand Prix.

Races remaining: Four (two double-headers)
Points: Same as F1
Will I be watching?: If Eurosport are showing any of the races live I will.

DTM

Driver Points
1 Martin Tomczyk 50
2 Bruno Spengler 49
3 Mattias Ekstrom 29
4 Timo Scheider 29
5 Jamie Green 25
6 Mike Rockenfeller 23
7 Ralf Schumacher 21

Audi’s Martin Tomcyk leads Mercedes’ Bruno Spengler by a single point in Germany’s premier touring car series.

While five other drivers are mathematically capable of winning, it’s likely one of these two drivers will claim their first DTM championship wins.

Tomcyk came through to win in a wet race at Brands Hatch at the beginning of the month.

The championship may be close but it’s not been a sparkling year in the DTM for racing.

Martin Tomczyk, Audi A4, Brands Hatch, DTM, 2011

Martin Tomczyk, Audi A4, Brands Hatch, DTM, 2011

That will hopefully change next year with the introduction of new cars and the arrival of BMW.

Races remaining: Three
Points: Ten for a win (same as F1′s 2003-09 system)
Will I be watching?: I’d give it a look if I could but it’s on ESPN in the UK.

NASCAR

Driver Points
1 Kyle Busch 2012
2 Kevin Harvick 2012
3 Jeff Gordon 2009
4 Matt Kenseth 2006
5 Carl Edwards 2003
6 Jimmie Johnson 2003
7 Kurt Busch 2003
8 Ryan Newman 2003
9 Tony Stewart 2000
10 Dale Earnhardt Jnr 2000
11 Brad Keselowski 2000
12 Denny Hamlin 2000

If F1 used NASCAR’s ‘Chase for the Cup’ the championship would look very different.

In NASCAR the points are reset with ten races remaining so the highest 12 drivers in the championship have near-equal tallies, and only they can claim the crown.

Jimmie Johnson has made the Chase his speciality and could claim the title for an astonishing sixth year in a row this season.

So should F1 use something like the chase to keep the championship alive until the end?

I don’t think so – for me, the champion should be the driver with the best result over a full season’s racing. Even if that does mean wrapping things up early, as will almost certainly be the case in F1 this year.

Races remaining: Ten
Points: 46 for a win, one for leading a lap and one for leading the most laps
Will I be watching?: Even if it was on anywhere I could see it I wouldn’t bother. For various reasons, NASCAR isn’t my cup of tea.

Other series

Start, NASCAR, Richmond International Raceway, 2011

Start, NASCAR, Richmond International Raceway, 2011

The World Touring Car Championship is a close affair between Yvan Muller and Rob Huff. But, like the DTM, the races haven’t been great this year. That said the end-of-season race at Macau is always worth a look.

What was shaping up to be a great battle between the two Sebastiens in Citroen’s World Rally Championship team – Loeb and Ogier – had the edge taken off it after Citroen began using team orders to favour Loeb.

In Superleague Formula, the football-themed series which morphed into an A1 Grand Prix-style countries’ championship, the major point of interest late in the season is which races will actually take place.

Having held six races at Assen and Zolder this year, it has postponed a round in Russia and cancelled races in New Zealand, Brazil and a planned second event in South America.

Are you keeping tabs on the championship battles in other series like Moto GP, Formula Two or others?

Tell us which racing series are you watching over the closing months of 2011 – the more obscure the better!

Why you should watch…

Images ?? IndyCar/Shawn Gritzmacher, BTCC, Renault, DTM, Todd Warshaw/Getty Images for NASCAR

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87 comments on F1 may not have a close title fight but these five do

  1. I’ve been watching the formula two. The races far too often clash with F1 but they have some good action. That drivers have individual entries instead of being in a team is not so good but there is still some tight racing. Next race is at Monza for the first weekend in October.

  2. MotoGP of course as I’m more of a motorcycling fan. Too bad you’re only covering F1 on this site. I wish it would be called motorsportfanatic.co.uk.

  3. If you drink tea, then NASCAR probably isn’t your thing. I can’t really take the 4 hour merry go round either, and the “passing” in NASCAR is about as thrilling as a DRS pass at Turkey.

    The problem with the “chase” isn’t just that it tends to moot much of the competition from earlier in the season, is that it is a blatant, transparent attempt to do two silly things: stop Johnson from clinching early again, and give lackluster legacy-man and merchandising juggernaut Earnhardt Jr. a shot at the title every year. They should just let Earnhardt Jr. start the year with a 500 point bonus. Or let drivers score points based on their merchandising receipts.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th September 2011, 14:59

      If you drink tea, then NASCAR probably isn’t your thing.

      Haha! Well said.

    • The “Chase” thing isn’t a bad idea IMO. We have something similar in Argentina and it works rather nicely (tho it needs some polishing…)

      The problem I have with Oval racing in general is that I can’t stop but thinking “why am I watching this if the really interesting bit is just 5 laps to the end?”.

      Not to mention the yellow flags comes out every 5 laps, and the SC periods last a whole hour each time.

      I like the close racing and astonishing speeds they reach, but for me it’s a boring survival game.

    • The Chase makes it more interesting because it means the whole field is racing for a realistic target (top 12) rather than if it was just for first place then there would only be a few cars in the field that are racing for something.

    • If you drink tea, then NASCAR probably isn’t your thing.

      Trust me, there are plenty of American coffee drinkers over here who don’t have much use for NASCAR, either. ;-)

  4. Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 15th September 2011, 14:49

    Stupid Football Thing has become a bit of a joke this year. I had a passing interest in it last year, because it was open-wheel racing and it had one or two races on during a slow weekend motorsport-wise. But the whole A1GP-style restructure seems unnecessary and seems to have taken some of the appeal out of it, particularly when the largest grids have just fourteen cars.

  5. And of course, don’t forget the FIA World GT1 Championship. The final round takes place on the 6th November at the absolutely wonderful (I know you agree) Potrero de los Funes Circuit in Argentina.

    The Two Aston martin teams and the JR Motorsports Nissan team (in their first year, no less) are in the hunt for the Team’s championship, and the drivers from those teams, along with one of the Lambo team’s drivers are still in the hunt for the Driver’s Championship.

    It’ll be live to watch on the GT1 website, or (I assume) the Bloomberg news channel, if you have it (Sky, Virgin, or FreeSat)

  6. antonyob said on 15th September 2011, 15:00

    Is he really called Will Power ? JHC!!

  7. Comments seem to support the theory that people follow the motorsport that is available to them. I would love to be able to follow WRC but US coverage is spotty at best, I watch if I find it. I would also love to follow the Isle of Man TT, but the whole week comes to HD Theatre channel in hour long segments played about 3 times a day over a month or so with no other information than “motorcycle racing from the Isle of Man” it also is repeated about every 3 months so you never know what you are going to see if you decide to tune in. I follow MotoGP and WSBike as well and occasionally will watch Indycar if I know it will be a roadrace, the circus that is oval-racing depends on multiple safety car re-starts for scoring and entertainment value, no doubt made necessary by the reduction of danger on the track.

  8. The MOTO 2 championship (motogp support) is really hotting up. Marquez has won I think the last 5 races to close the gap to bradl to less than a win. The action is almost always insanely close as they run a control 600cc Honda engine in custom chasis. My favorite motorsport this season by far.

  9. Richard T said on 15th September 2011, 15:54

    The Scandinavian touring car championship (STCC) has one race left this year and it’s a real nail biter at the top with 3 drivers that can clinch the title

    1. Fredrik Ekblom – Vw Schirocco 194p
    2. Rickard Rydell – Chevy Cruze 192p
    3. Tommy Rustad – Volvo C30 eDrive 168p

    we also have drivers like Colin Turkington, Rickard Göransson, Robert Dahlgren (guest apperance), Gabriele tarquini (guest), and James thompson did 2/3ds of the season for Volvo =)

    Finale is at Mantorp Park next weekend

  10. kowalsky said on 15th September 2011, 16:26

    don’t forget moto gp. that’s good racing too.

  11. joey-poey said on 15th September 2011, 16:41

    I started out this year trying to watch the entire Indy Car season, but once I moved, I no longer had cable and have been missing races :C. I really ought to make an effort to catch their live website feed for these last ones.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th September 2011, 16:45

      I really ought to make an effort to catch their live website feed

      I think you’re in for a disappointment – I’m pretty sure they don’t offer it any more.

      • joey-poey said on 15th September 2011, 17:47

        D:

        That could be the dumbest move they’ve made of recent

        • Quin10-10 said on 15th September 2011, 18:35

          Th Indycar site still has live timing and scoring, with audio feed from race control, but no video. And you are right, for a series that is struggling to rebuild it’s fan base this move really makes no sense.

          • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 15th September 2011, 18:38

            If you want income from TV broadcasters you can’t give footage away for free online. I’m not surprised they did it.

          • joey-poey said on 15th September 2011, 20:00

            Yes, but Indy Car is currently suffering from what I think is one of your worries about F1 splitting the season up to be on Sky. It’s difficult to follow unless you’ve got a high end cable package. It’s kind of a chicken-and-the-egg problem in this case because they need the money from the broadcasters, but the also need to keep building their fanbase.

  12. Will Power win, or will Franchitti? =)

  13. Yorricksfriend said on 15th September 2011, 17:04

    For me MotoGP has been pretty good this year. As an Australian, it’s great to see Stoner back at the top, and due to the reduced field, it’s more essential than ever to get good results in every race, and not crash out.

    The Bradl – Marquez situation is interesting too, reminds me of Vettel’s come from behind championship last year. Amazing how much more interesting a title race can be if the best driver/rider/car/bike combination has a poor start to a season.

    That bring me neatly to V8 Supercars, which has been dominated by the Vodafone Team in recent years (apart from last year) but former champ Craig Lowndes is looking strong at the moment and could overhaul his team-mate, and also former champ Jamie Whincup, only about 100 points behind (150 points for a win, the weekends are double headers)

    Sadly we don’t really get a lot of DTM, BTCC or the lower open wheeler categories here.

  14. I’ve been following V8 Supercars for two years, and I think this year will be another tight championship fight. Although I don’t know how much TeamVodafone will let their drivers race (most likely quite a lot). Lowndes might win one or both of the next endurance races, so that will close the gap to Whincup.

    WRC was turning out to be Seb-Seb battle, but after the last round it looks like Hirvonen is the main challenger again. But as there are two tarmac rallies and just one gravel event left, I wouldn’t bet against Mr. Loeb.

  15. AndrewTanner (@andrewtanner) said on 15th September 2011, 22:01

    Definitely the WRC. Hirvonen snatched a win in Australia which throws a bit of a spanner in the works for Citroen. I’ll try catch F2 and DTM but I think that’s about it.

    • Prisoner Monkeys (@prisoner-monkeys) said on 16th September 2011, 0:59

      Hirvonen snatched a win in Australia which throws a bit of a spanner in the works for Citroen.

      It didn’t quite go to plan – Loeb was in 10th and was winning the power stage, so he was good for four points. Ford sent Jari-Matti Latvala out with instructions to win the stage and limit Loeb’s points haul, but he wasn’t quick enough and Latvala pushed Hirvonen out of the points position.

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