To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
11 Nov 2010 08:58
Spaniard Fernando Alonso will bid to resist the pressure of warring Red Bull drivers Australian Mark Webber and German Sebastian Vettel to claim his third world title in Sunday’s dramatic Formula One decider in Abu Dhabi.
The Ferrari ace, who has won the title twice before with Renault, hopes to end his first season with the famous Italian team in triumph, but he faces a tough job ahead in the eagerly anticipated title-deciding showdown in the Gulf.
Alonso not only has to protect his eight-point lead against an assault from Webber and Vettel, but, in the first championship showdown to involve four rivals who all have a chance to take the title home, he has to guard against the threat from Briton Lewis Hamilton.
Hamilton could emerge as an influential dark horse, if not a “king-maker”, when he fires up his McLaren and makes a concerted bid for victory.
In the wake of comments from Red Bull’s owners and hierarchy suggesting they will not impose team orders on Webber or Vettel, Hamilton may be presented with a chance to upset the forecasts and create chaos.
He has already made clear he has no intention of abandoning his own hopes of a second title to add to his 2008 triumph just because he trails leader Spaniard Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, his former teammate and rival at McLaren, by 24 points.
“I don’t give a damn about any of those three. At the end of the day, I am still in it, so I will give it a shot.
They have a lot more to lose than I have and I won’t be looking up at them or letting them pass.
“We don’t have the fastest car, but I could be riding in fourth and all three of them might not finish. Anything could happen..”
To take the title, Hamilton would have to win Sunday’s race at the Yas Marina Circuit and see all three rivals suffer disappointments—with Alonso failing to score, Webber finishing outside the top five and Vettel outside the first two.
‘To interfere with the drivers was never a possibility for us’
He may not be able to achieve that, but he could certainly be right “in the mix” if the Red Bull duo accept their team’s licence to fight as individuals. And that could be good news for any one of the other protagonists.
Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz said this week that he would prefer to see either of his drivers finish second in the championship before he imposed team orders.
This followed his team’s refusal this season to lend any extra support to Webber, despite the Australian having been in a stronger position than Vettel.
Mateschitz said: “To interfere with the drivers was never a possibility for us. The whole world condemned Ferrari, after what they did at Hockenheim, but we have turned out as idiots because we did not act in this way. Have we?
“We never even thought about it as long as both of our drivers remained in the hunt for the championship. It is not assured that Alonso will always be the lucky one. So, Abu Dhabi will be incredibly exciting and provide high tension.”
Hamilton has not hidden his preference for Webber as champion, if he cannot win it himself, and given the current positions—with Alonso on 246 points, Webber second on 238, Vettel third on 231 and Hamilton fourth on 222—he may even choose to make life far more difficult on circuit for the Spaniard and the German, than for the Australian.
“Mark has done a great job this year and, against adversity, he has kept at it,” said Hamilton. “So I want to see Mark win.”
Webber may therefore end up receiving greater and more effective support from a rival team’s driver than his own team, or his teammate. To take the title, he needs to win and keep Alonso out of second place—a task that he cannot rely on Vettel to perform.—Sapa-AFP
Create Account | Lost Your Password?