It’s finally here: the last race of the 2012 Formula 1 World Championship season.
Hasn’t this season been one of the best? We opened with a completely unpredictable sequence of races and racewinners, and now we’re faced with a fitting battle for championship honours between runaway points leader Fernando Alonso and a resurgent Sebastian Vettel. One of them will become the sport’s ninth three-time World Champion.
Without further ado, let’s take a look at the RichardsF1.com Brazilian Grand Prix Preview…
FORMULA 1 GRANDE PRÊMIO PETROBRAS DO BRASIL 2012
|Date:||23-25 November 2012|
|Venue:||Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil|
|Race Lap Record:||1:11.473 – Juan Pablo Montoya, Williams BMW FW26 (2004)|
|Event Schedule:||Free Practice Session 1||Fri 10:00-11:30|
|Free Practice Session 2||Fri 14:00-15:30|
|Free Practice Session 3||Sat 11:00-12:00|
|Race (71 laps, 305.909km)||Sun 14:00-16:00|
|Past Winners:||Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault RB7)||2011|
|Sebastian Vettel (Red Bull Racing Renault RB6)||2010|
|Mark Webber (Red Bull Racing Renault RB5)||2009|
|Felipe Massa (Ferrari F2008)*||2008|
|Kimi Räikkönen (Ferrari F2007)*||2007|
|Felipe Massa (Ferrari F2006)*||2006|
|Juan Pablo Montoya (McLaren Mercedes MP4-20)||2005|
|Juan Pablo Montoya (Williams BMW FW26)||2004|
|Giancarlo Fisichella (Jordan Ford EJ13)||2003|
|Michael Schumacher (Ferrari F2002)||2002|
* Denotes victory earned from pole position
Of all of the venues being visited in the 2012 season, there are few crowds – with the possible exceptions of those at Monza and Silverstone – who are as passionate as those who cram into the dilapidated grandstands at Sao Paulo’s Interlagos circuit each year.
And the Brazilian fans have certainly had plenty of heroes to cheer over the years, with the likes of Emerson Fittipaldi, Nelson Piquet, Ayrton Senna, Rubens Barrichello and Felipe Massa achieving considerable success on the international motorsport stage.
The Sao Paulo circuit has played host to Formula 1 since the 1970s – albeit in a much longer configuration than today – but sadly fell out of favour when the (sadly duller) Jacarepagua circuit opened in Rio de Janeiro.
Despite the more interesting location in Rio, the flat high-speed circuit didn’t pose the same challenge that Interlagos did, with races at Rio often being more of an economy run than an action-packed event.
And so the circus moved back to a truncated Interlagos in 1990 and it has remained there ever since.
Despite its third world facilities that somehow seem to escape criticism each year in the face of far superior amenities almost everywhere else on the F1 calendar, Interlagos has an ‘other worldly’ charm that makes it a popular venue for the Formula 1 travelling circus.
A terribly bumpy, anticlockwise circuit, the track is physically demanding due to its layout and elevation changes, which place great strain on driver fitness and mechanical reliability. A well-balanced set-up – one that offers good grip in the twisty sections without compromising top speed on the straights – proves to be a difficult compromise to reach here when setting up a Formula 1 car.
Being in a tropical climate, weather is often a factor at the track, which features a well-used passing point at the braking point to Turn 1, and a less-used spot at Turn 4, the Reta Oposta left-hander at the end of the back straight.
Let’s take a look at our video preview of Interlagos (and you’ll hear my puppy playing in the background of the recording!):
Yas Marina Talking Points
So what do the RichardsF1.com readers and contributors think will happen this weekend?
Geoff Burke, RichardsF1.com Journalist
“While many places on next year’s grid are being rapidly sewn up, the Brazilian Grand Prix is one final opportunity for a host of this year’s runners to put in one last performance to try and show that they warrant another season in the sport.
“Take Romain Grosjean as a case in point. ‘This time last year @RGrosjean was preparing to drive in FP1 for @Lotus_F1Team; he impressed us so much we just had to give him an #F1 seat!’ the Lotus team wrote on Twitter.
“All well and good, but the team hasn’t yet re-signed him for 2013. Last weekend was another example of the Frenchman’s hit and miss 2012 season. He had a wild spin mid-race and then tigered through the field to finish well inside the points. One wonders what he might have achieved had he kept it on the black stuff all the time.”
Heath Doodie, RichardsF1.com Reader
“Farewell Michael. Rewind three years to the fanfare that the ex-Brawn team announced its 2010 driver lineup of Nico Rosberg and the often speculated, ‘will he, won’t he’ return to the sport of none other than 7-time World Driver’s Champion, Michael Schumacher.
“Schumacher’s record doesn’t need repeating here. That’s not a mark of disrespect to the German, rather a nod to the readers of RichardsF1.com being supremely knowledgeable and well aware that Schumacher’s feats are unlikely to be topped for some time.
“It’s also a well-known fact that Schumacher’s comeback has not come anywhere near close to the achievements of his first career and while it was good to see him on the podium in Valencia during Round 8 of the championship at the European Grand Prix (he’s won that event 6 times), it’s been a rather anonymous Schumacher (and indeed Mercedes F1) on track since. So while the 2012 Driver’s World Champion will be crowned at this weekend’s Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos, I’m hoping for a less anonymous showing from the champion as we again bid farewell. And thanks.”
Josh Kruse, RichardsF1.com Writer
“Although the season will reach its completion this weekend after Brazil, I have to admit I’m not upset that it’s going to end. We’ll soon have another Triple World Champion, but more importantly for me are the driver changes.
“I’m eager to see who will end up where and who could possibly make a return. Former Toro Rosso driver, Jaime Alguersuari has openly said that he will definitely be on the grid next year. With Hulkenberg off to Sauber, Alguersuari is strongly linked to partner Di Resta at Force India. Kovalainen has yet to re-sign with Caterham which could mean that he’s possibly moving up the field (let’s hope). These missing puzzle pieces will soon tumble into place and we’ll have a complete, yet much altered grid in 2013.
“For this weekend though, as cliché as it sounds, both drivers deserve to be a Triple World Champion. Both have struggled with various difficulties throughout the year so I think it would be foolish to say that one is less worthy than the other.”
Matt Lennon, RichardsF1.com IndyCar Correspondent
“Thirteen points separate our two title protagonists, and there are 25 up for grabs. Sebastian Vettel has the luxury of being able to finish in the Top 4 or so to be able to secure the title even if Alonso wins, but that doesn’t mean he won’t be going all out for the win and to take the title in the most emphatic style possible. For Alonso, failure will be a bitter pill to swallow after leading the championship for so long.
“Often in championship deciders, however, a brand new or unexpected winner is sometimes the one taking the chequered flag. That being said, the focus will remain on the two title challengers, and it will be very interesting to see who comes out on top. My pick is an unexpected winner, such as Felipe Massa winning in front of his home crowd, but Sebastian Vettel will still take the title.”
RichardsF1.com Features Writer and webmaster of F1 Ultra
“The Brazilian Grand Prix is the finish of a fabulous season in which will find out the identity of the 2012 World Champion. Formula 1 has already seen so much, although I would say that this year brought us a higher degree of competition. We’ve had unbelievably close competition – with a grid that includes 6 World Champions – that have made almost all the races difficult to predict. Eight drivers have won a race this year so far, the most since 1982. This sport is more than 60 years old but it is still keeps amazing me.
“Competition at the Interlagos Circuit is going to be extremely interesting, as the weather broadcasts are not so optimistic for a whole weekend. When thinking of Brazil, I immediately recall the showdown in 2008, when the last lap proved the decider for the title. The ‘Track between the lakes’ is Sebastian Vettel’s favorite one and one that Fernando’s fans are looking at for him to come from behind. I am also curious about the new tyres, which will be given to the teams by Pirelli for the Friday’s practice. I am really looking forward to this Grand Prix.”
The Form Guide
The last time we had a two-way battle to claim a third World Championship crown was back in 2000, when Michael Schumacher beat Mika Häkkinen in a dramatic showdown at the Japanese Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the season.
Interestingly, this will be the first time in F1 history that the season-ending race will serve as the stage for two drivers battling it out to claim a third championship title. Interlagos has served as stage for plenty of drama over the years, and there’s no reason to suggest that we won’t be given a fittingly thrilling conclusion to the 2012 season.
While Vettel’s previous titles have been wrapped up at Abu Dhabi (2010) and Suzuka (2012), Alonso’s previous two championship crowns have both been wrapped up at Interlagos, which came back in 2005 and 2006.
Interestingly, Alonso has never won at Brazil, while Vettel enjoys the better record here with victory in 2010.
Logic says that the championship crown will go to Vettel. A fourth-placed finish would guarantee him the crown, regardless of what Alonso manages to do. But Interlagos has a history of derailing an aspiring champion’s run to the crown, and we’ve seen punctures, contact and mechanical failures interfere in proceedings in previous years.
A thirteen-point margin means that Vettel can wrap things up by:
- Finishing in the top-four, regardless of where Alonso finishes
- Finishing in fifth, sixth or seventh place, with Alonso finishing third or lower
- Finishing tenth or worse, with Alonso failing to finish on the podium
Alonso, meanwhile, will need for the following to happen in order to claim the honour for himself:
- Winning, with Vettel finishing fifth or lower
- Finishing in second place, with Vettel finishing eighth or lower
- Finishing in third place, with Vettel finishing tenth or lower
The championship is Vettel’s to lose, while Alonso simply has to go for broke and see what happens. We’ve certainly been witness to some magical performances from Alonso over the course of 2012, often despite the obvious performance deficit his Ferrari has.
Don’t forget to enter your F1 Predictions!
The final round of the 2012 RichardsF1.com F1 Predictions Competition is now open, and you can enter your predictions for the race right here to be in the running for the grand prize at the end of the year!
The cut-off to submit your predictions is no later than five minutes before qualifying starts, so make sure you’re in it to win it!
You can view the latest Predictions Competition ranking right here.
The final round sees up to 100 points on offer for each entrant, meaning that a whole host of our regular entrants could come out on top in the final reckoning.
Entrants yet to use their ‘double up’ feature will automatically have it applied at the final round of the championship provided they enter their predictions per the competition rules. So if you score a perfect round and you haven’t used your ‘Double Up’, that’s forty points in the bag!
Those who were registered to play at the start of the season were also asked to nominate the driver and team who would win the Drivers’ and Constructors’ Championships, respectively. The following additional points will be included in the Brazilian Grand Prix points if their guesses are as follows:
- 25 points each if their nominated driver or constructor wins the 2012 championship
- 18 points each if their nominated driver or constructor finishes in second place
- 15 points each if their nominated driver or constructor finishes in third place; and
- A bonus 10 points if their nominated driver and constructor wins both titles
To enter your predictions, click here.
As always, RichardsF1.com will be bringing you the best of the on- and off-track action this weekend, so make sure we’re your first port of call for your United States Grand Prix fix!
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