The car is an important factor here. I think it would be fair to say that over the races since Germany, that Mclaren and Red Bull have been the best cars on the grid, a fact reflected by them having picked up all the race wins between them during this time.
Ferrari in race trim is still decent, which has allowed Alonso and now Massa to pull podiums out of the bad – albeit often as a result of other people’s crashes / car failures.
It’s also true that in most races there is also a red herring on the pace and causing upset to the “BIG 3″ – sometimes Lotus, Sauber, Force India etc…
I’m going to go from least likely to most likely….
Kimi Raikkonnen – 5% chance.
He really needs to win 2 races from somewhere to grab a big haul of points. And if he can do that and retain his knack of finishing in the top 5 or 6 at every race, he has a chance. Realistically though, the car just isn’t strong enough to deliver this result and I suspect he’ll end up 3rd or 4th in the championship. Still a great performance, but he just doesn’t have the car to get it done now…
Lewis Hamilton – 10% chance
The Mclaren has, with the exception of Japan been the fastest car since the German GP, and will still be at the sharp end in the races to the end of the season, in spite of the relatively poor showing at Japan. Hamilton has driven really well this season but dropped crucial points earlier in the year, through bad pit stops, bad luck, and car failures. I feel like he has a similar job to Kimi to do, win 2 races out of the last 5 and finish in the top 3 to 5 in the other three races. He has the car to do it, but will he have the luck and the pace to beat Vettel in every race? I doubt it….
Alonso – 25% chance….
Needs a race win and / or a DNF from Vettel in the last 5 races to give him any chance. Either of these things is possible. The car in race trim is still quick, a fact shown by Massa having easily the 2nd fastest pace at Japan and that has to encourage the Spaniard. However, the fact that Massa was 20 seconds+ behind Vettel cannot be ignored and whilst Japan is a very RBR friendly track, there are others still to come, such as Brazil and i also suspect COTA will suit RBR too… Will extract the maximum from the car, it’s just a question as to whether that will be enough. Without a failure from Vettel, I can’t see him doing it now.
Vettel – 60% chance
Has the best car, the momentum and they’ve sorted qualifying out. We all know that Vettel can’t win races from outside the top 3, but now he doesn’t have to. He’s got a car that should enable him to get in to the top 2 or 3 on the grid from now until the end of the year and I can easily see him winning 2 more races and potentially wrapping up the championship before Brazil. I hope to good God he doesn’t though….
Final championship standings?