What Vettel and Alonso need to do to win the title

2012 Brazilian Grand Prix

Sebastian Vettel, Red Bull, Circuit of the Americas, 2012The 2012 drivers’ championship will be decided in the final race of the year in Brazil.

For contenders Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso the situation is reminiscent of the championship contest between them in Abu Dhabi season finale two years ago.

Then Alonso went into the final race 15 points ahead of Vettel. But it was Vettel who emerged on top.

This time it is Vettel who holds a 13-point lead over Alonso heading into the final round. But there is another significant difference.

On that occasion Mark Webber and Lewis Hamilton were also capable of winning the title. Webber went into that race eight points behind Alonso, and the Ferrari driver’s preoccupation with beating him ended up losing him the title to Vettel.

But there will be no split focus for either driver this time. Here’s what they need to do to win the title:

How Sebastian Vettel can become champion

The most straightforward way for Vettel to win the title is to finish in the top four. After that it gets complicated.

  • If Vettel finishes fourth or higher he is world champion regardless of where Alonso finishes
  • If Vettel finishes fifth, sixth or seventh and Alonso finishes second or lower, Vettel is champion
  • If Vettel finishes eighth or ninth and Alonso finishes third or lower, Vettel is champion
  • If Vettel finishes tenth or fails to score and Alonso finishes fourth or lower, Vettel is champion

Out of the 19 races so far this year 15 produced results which, if replicated this weekend, would make Vettel champion.

How Fernando Alonso can become champion

Alonso can only win the championship by finishing on the podium. He has done so in 12 of the 19 races so far, and the last four in a row. Here’s how he can win the title if he does:

  • If Alonso wins and Vettel is fifth or lower, Alonso is champion
  • If Alonso finishes second and Vettel is eighth or lower, Alonso is champion
  • If Alonso finishes third and Vettel is tenth or does not score, Alonso is champion

Out of the 19 races so far this year four produced results which, if replicated this weekend, would make Alonso champion.

Unusual ways for the title to be decided


Fernando Alonso, Renault, Inerlagos, 2003If the race ends with less than 75% of the distance covered (i.e. fewer than 54 of the scheduled 71 laps) then half points will be awarded.

In these circumstances the maximum points available for a driver will be 12.5 for a win, which would be insufficient for Alonso to overcome Vettel’s 13-point lead. Therefore, a half-points race will automatically mean Vettel wins the championship.

In 2003 the Brazilian Grand Prix (pictured) was red-flagged and the result declared after 54 laps – the minimum needed to achieve 75% race distance. There was some confusion over which lap the race had ended on resulting in victory being awarded to Kimi Raikkonen at first, then transferred to Giancarlo Fisichella.

Under a new rule introduced this year races must be stopped four hours after they begin, regardless of whether they are suspended.

A tie

If the pair end the season tied on points Vettel will win the championship because whatever happens he will have won more races than Alonso.

Neither the drivers’ nor the constructors’ championships have ever ended with two competitors tied on points. The narrowest winning margin ever was Niki Lauda’s 1984 drivers’ title victory by half a point ahead of McLaren team mate Alain Prost.

Over to you

Before the last race, two-thirds of readers tipped Vettel to win the title. Have you changed your mind since then?

Vote for who you think will be champion below and have your say in the comments:

Who will win the 2012 F1 drivers' title?

  • Sebastian Vettel (66%)
  • Fernando Alonso (34%)

Total Voters: 235

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79 comments on What Vettel and Alonso need to do to win the title

  1. I have a feeling alonso wil finish p3 with vettel retiring…!

  2. Julian (@julian) said on 21st November 2012, 12:58

    Head says Vettel, heart says Alonso.
    Either way who ever wins it will be deserving of the championship. Alonso had a brilliant first half of the season and a solid second half. Vettel had a solid first half of the season and a brilliant second half.
    Vettel has the momentum and the points advanatge hence my head saying he will win it while Alonso is fighting an uphill battle which is why my heart wants to see him win it.
    Anyways, here’s hoping to a close race where we wont know who’s going to win it until preferably the last lap as it will be a tense and fitting end to an awesome season on F1.

  3. Hairs (@hairs) said on 21st November 2012, 13:03

    Needs to be a third option on this poll for “Adrian Newey”.

    Realistically, Vettel is the winner unless the car breaks down, or someone takes him out. His car is significantly faster in all conditions at this point, and Ferrari have no way of answering him. Unless they break out the polyfilla as recommended by Gary Anderson.

  4. I hope it will be a wet grand prix it will make so much more interesting given that Fernando has been flawless in the wet this year. There is also the risk that Vettels alternator will fail again!

  5. I am resigned to the fact that Vettel is gonna win this title unless he fails to score… I really cant see him finishing outside the podium if he has a normal race… I hope Alonso drives an unforgettable race … I am an Alonso fan … but having said that I would nt agree that vettel deserves the title less… whoever comes out on top(most likely vettel) will deserve to be champion… It is true that he had the best car for the most part of of the scond half of this year… then he drove exceptionally well too… It’s a combination of driver and car… at the moment it looks like it is gonna be RB and vettel…. I hope ferrari ,Mercedes and RB are evenly matched next year(again looks unlikely as no major rule changes ).. Whatever happens on coming Sunday for me Alonso is the best driver out there , hamilton is almost as good as Alonso.. vettel slightly behind the alonso and vettel… It is only my view and I know others may differ ….

  6. Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 21st November 2012, 13:54

    I think that in a dry race Vettel will have no problem dominating from the start to the finish the RB8 is well suited to Interlagos only a failure could prevent him from the title even through Alonso still have to finish on the podium which isn’t an easy job as people think because he have to fight with Mark Webber, Jenson Button , Lewis Hamilton & maybe Kimi Raikonnen

    So to be a triple WDC Alonso & Ferrari will have to rely on a rainy race which is their only chance so they have to take risks with strategy just like they did in Malaysia & in Qualifying in Hockenheim & Silverstone

    Many thinks that Ferrari is a good wet car & if the race is wet then they will win systematically the race which is completely false we remember how Fernando almost crashed in Q1 in Silverstone & that the strategy in Hockenheim (new set of wet tyres) helped him a lot to get the pole ,Rainy condition is risky & stressful for everyone so if Ferrari wants to finish first then first they have to finish they have to be perfect (race, strategy,pit stops…) & then wait & see what the will happen with SEB

    • @tifoso1989 – We have to remember also that Vettel is a great wet driver. He took his first win in the wet. In the weekends affected by rain so far, he had been running 4th in Malaysia, he was 3rd in Britain and 5th (with a penalty remember – he crossed the line in second) in Germany. Provided there are no problems I think he would still be champion if it happened to be a wet race.

      Although in each of those races Alonso did finish ahead of Vettel, so maybe rain would play into his hands. Realistically though I think Alonso needs to win, so Ferrari better have a pretty good update to be introduced in Brazil if they are to overcome both Red Bull and McLaren!

      • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 21st November 2012, 19:32

        Vettel is a good wet driver, let’s not forget also Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button who is brilliant in changeable conditions Massa can play an important role with his recent form
        like i said a wet race is risky for every one but it is the only chance of Ferrari & Fernando who have i think something more in the wet especially this season (this is can be a psychological advantage )

        • Very much show, with the pace Ferrari have had of late I don’t think they can hope to remove Vettel’s 13 point lead (Vettel has finished on the podium in every race since Monza, and in one of them he was sent to he back of the grid)!

  7. Personally would love watching ALONSO getting the title as he has to a fair extent deserved it more than Vettel! But it won’t be easy for either of them, u just can’t predict the unforced errors( Maldanado or may be Hamiton giving a jolt!)…hoping for it to end in a dramatic way and make it to the history books!

  8. chemakal said on 21st November 2012, 15:03

    Blue skies forecasted here in Spain for the weekend. All clouds have been sent to Brazil. Exciting final race, wet conditions will even car performances and it will be down to driving and strategies. Can’t wait! Como on Fer!

  9. LoreMipsumdOtmElor said on 21st November 2012, 15:15

    I’m really hoping for HAM-ALO-MAS-BUT-VET on the last lap and Hamilton waving Alonso to the lead :) That would make me an instant Hamilton fan.

    • Keith Collantine (@keithcollantine) said on 21st November 2012, 15:21

      There is less than no chance of that happening.

      Hamilton is a racing driver. He wants to win. He wants to leave McLaren with two wins in a row. “I’d love to take victory in Brazil this weekend to give the team the perfect farewell present,” he said.

      I don’t know where some people get this idea that he’s so consumed by hatred of Sebastian Vettel he’s going to give up a race victory to – of all people – Fernando Alonso, but it’s utterly bizarre and completely unrealistic.

      • tigen (@tigen) said on 22nd November 2012, 5:57

        While I agree, Hamilton does have a bit of a chip on his shoulder about Vettel. He’s made a few backhand comments about Vettel in the media this year and nothing about Alonso.

        Partly this might just be that Vettel is the reigning champ, so has the target on his back. But I suspect he looks at Vettel more as his own generation, and having surpassed him in the lower formulae, is somewhat bitter about being leapfrogged (through “pure luck”).

        Meanwhile Alonso won his ‘ships before HAM was on the scene. And served as something of a mentor (and reportedly a friend) while teammates, at least at first. So psychologically he is closer to Alonso.

    • Even if that happens …. ALO behind HAM ..debatable ….MAS behind ALO ..happens all the time …. MAS can hold up BUT …sounds fair ……VET behind BUT …….NO WAY ! he will soar past ! ….BTW I also want alonso to win …the only realistic possibility is that vettel has a DNF and ALO finishes in podium ….

  10. david d.m. said on 21st November 2012, 16:27

    Mark my words, Alonso will finish in the podium and ahead of Vettel, but he won’t be champion, the points advantage is just too big.

  11. Out of the nineteen races so far this year 15 produced results which, if replicated this weekend, would make Vettel champion

    Interestingly, in the 4 events which if replicated Vettel wouldn’t be crowned champion, another factor always influenced that. Malaysia: Vettel was running 4th (and chasing 3rd) when Karthikeyan made contact with Vettel’s rear wheel (Alonso was leading but even so the points gap wouldn’t be sufficient).
    Valencia: Vettel had an alternator failure whilst leading comfortably (Alonso would have dropped 7 points).
    Germany: Vettel was penalised for illegally overtaking Button; dropped from 2nd to 5th (Alonso won but if Vettel had kept his place the points gap wouldn’t be sufficient).
    Italy: Vettel was running 6th and then had an alternator failure (Alonso was 3rd so again the points gap wouldn’t be sufficient).

    So in reality Vettel has only really been out-scored by Alonso by a margin of 13+ points due to his own actions once: in Germany. That puts into perspective even more how much of an outside chance Alonso has.

    N.B. In the races in which Alonso has retired (Belgium and Japan) Vettel scored a 2nd and a win respectively, so again the points gap wouldn’t be sufficient had he not retired.

    • Tifoso1989 (@tifoso1989) said on 21st November 2012, 19:58

      That puts into perspective even more how much of an outside chance Alonso has.

      It’s Funny when you read the comment of a Vettel’s fan talking about outside chance for Alonso
      What do you call the crash in Spa ???In Japan?? (i’m not accusing Raikonnen)
      What do you call 2 safety car in Abu Dhabi that came exactly at the right moment ?????
      By your logic if Vettel would be a WDC by less than 15 pts gap it would be thanks to an outside chance due to the points Alonso lost with the irresponsible move of Grosjean

  12. Maciek (@maciek) said on 21st November 2012, 17:43

    I just hope the championship goes with a bang not a whimper.

  13. JUGNU (@jugnu) said on 21st November 2012, 18:54

    Only reliability can stop Vettel now. In normal circumstances can’t see Vettel off the podium. 80% Vettel will win it.

  14. PaulK (@paulk) said on 21st November 2012, 22:45

    I believe Vettel will be champion, but imagine, only imagine, if at the second last lap Vettel is cruising for an easy win with Alonso second (or third), but 10+ seconds behind the leader(s), when Vettel decides to go for fastest lap as he always does but goes out of the track and out of the race and thus loses the championship.

    I’d be sad for him but laughing my ass off. And I bet he’d never again try to go for a fastest lap just for the sake of it.

    • @paulk – he knows what he’s doing; during his fastest laps he never pushes so hard that he risks coming off the track. Also, I have a feeling if he is comfortably leading he will just bring the car home. I don’t think he would take such a large risk when there is little to be gained from it, especially in a championship decider.

      I agree with the last part though, I guarantee you he wouldn’t try and go for a fastest lap just for the sake of it again!

  15. magon4 (@magon4) said on 22nd November 2012, 7:37

    It will be an anti-climatic ending with Alonso risking too much and DNFing.

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