Sunday, 7 November 2010

Interlagos: post-race analysis

I love Interlagos. I’ve not seriously followed F1 for all that long, but for me it’s up there with Spa and Silverstone. Today featured an exciting race that saw Button’s title hopes axed completely and Hamilton’s hanging by a thread. Barring a seriously unfortunate (for them) turn of events, it’s now a Red Bull/Alonso title.

If the top three got the same places at Abu Dhabi’s tedious Yas Marina circuit Alonso would win. Last year Abu Dhabi was good for Hamilton (he would probably have won or got a podium spot had his car not expired). This matters a lot because if he gets between Alonso and the Red Bulls this would help Vettel and Webber greatly.

But, more title speculation later. The race was also remarkable because, if you followed my tips with equal stakes, you’d actually finish ahead. The wiser heads [ie not me] correctly forecast that Hulkenberg’s dry pace was nowhere near his drying pace, although he did a decent job against Alonso and an even better one against Hamilton. Ultimately, he got 8th, which isn’t great from pole, but it’s not a catastrophe either.

Mercedes had another solid race, and seem to have a decisive advantage over Renault now. Schumacher is improving, outqualified Rosberg by a distance but couldn’t beat him on race day. Be interesting to see how he fares next year, having gotten back up to speed and had input into the 2011 car.

By my assessment, the Ferrari and McLaren were pretty equal. Hamilton thrashed his tyres after the first pit stop, and but for that might have had a chance to try and pass Alonso come the restart. Button did a very good job to climb up to 6th, Interlagos is clearly a circuit he likes.

However, the team that’s quickest is Red Bull. The problem is that their speed is like a glass dagger: very sharp, but brittle. There have been many reliability issues. But for them, Vettel would already be champion.

Red Bull wrapped up the title nowhere cares much about, the Constructors’, showing a tip by me to back McLaren to be a bit rubbish.

So, here are the title standings [decided to omit Hamilton as he needs a win and Alonso to get no points and the Red Bulls to do badly]:
Alonso 246
Webber 238
Vettel 231

If Webber gets 1st, he needs Alonso 3rd or lower. If Alonso gets 1st or 2nd he gets the title. If Vettel gets 1st he needs Webber 3rd or lower [Webber has more wins] and Alonso 6th or lower [10 points for 5th now].

Here’s a reminder of the new scoring system:
Winner: 25 Points
2nd: 18 Points
3rd: 15 Points
4th: 12 Points
5th: 10 Points
6th: 8 Points
7th: 6 Points
8th: 4 Points
9th: 2 Points
10th: 1 Point

Alonso and Webber clearly have the advantage, but Vettel does stand a real chance. Safety cars working against his rivals and accidents could yet hand him the title.

I’m no fan of Yas Marina, the next and final race of the season. I think it’s a triumph of glitzy hotels over an exciting circuit [the polar opposite of Spa]. From what I recall, the race last year was somewhat processional. Anyway, it’s just 1 week away, not the usual 2. It will be the last race I’ll post a trio of F1 articles [until maybe 2012], after which I’ll take a little time and put up a few season reviews posts [from racing, prediction and betting perspectives]. I imagine I’ll not post again after that until it’s time for a 2011 preview post or two.

Morris Dancer


Nigel said...

First of all, many thanks for all your efforts throughout the season (and, nb, you don't have to be right all the time to be more than worth reading.)

As far as the race is concerned, I don't agree that the McLaren is as fast as the Ferrari - which indeed is why Hamilton had to thrash his tyres.
It was notable that Alonso was able to maintain a similar pace to Hamilton at the end of the race even though Hamilton's tyres were considerably fresher.
To me, the McLaren simply does not look as well sorted as the Ferrari (and isn't anywhere near the Red Bull).
Maybe they should have done a Mercedes, and developed what they had in the last few races rather than trying too many new parts ?

What I found a little curious was that Webber apparently had engine issues, having to nurse his overheating engine from midway in the race. Without this, might he have been wheel to wheel with Vettel ? That would have been fun to watch.
(The paranoid might speculate about team interference, as it was supposed to be Vettel who was marginal on engines, but I think it's simply the fragility of the Red Bull package, which you rightly note.)

For the final race, Red Bull need a 1-2 with Webber at the front. They are fast enough to do this, but is Vettel prepared to make Webber champion ?

My guess is that Webber is going to have to win this one for himself. Vettel will be racing him for the win, and would probably prefer to see Alonso as champion rather than give it up.

I don't think McLaren will have much to say about the issue. they are the third fastest, and I can't see them bothering to waste their effort on more upgrades. For them, it's now about next season.

Morris Dancer said...

Cheers, Nigel :)

I really don't think team interference can be or will be a factor at this stage. Vettel or Webber, if racing for the title, will just develop a radio problem.

I think Vettel might. Not sure. They're clearly not best friends forever, but if it's a choice between a team mate or Alonso, I think Red Bull might give a helpful run down of the order and let Vettel make the choice.

The only way Vettel can nab the title is if a number of talented also-rans (Hamilton, Kubica, maybe even the Mercedes) can get ahead of Alonso/Webber.

It'll be fascinating to watch. Also, for the first time since September, I'll be able to actually write a pre-qualifying post with tips.

Anonymous said...

uhhh, if vettel won abu dhabi, he would actually have more wins than webber (5 to 4)

Peter from Putney said...

I'd like to endorse Nigel's thanks to Morris the Dancer for is interesting commentaries before and after each F1 race. It has proved an interesting diversion from mainstream and for me a profitable one. Having backed Webber at the ridiculously generous odds of 16.5/1 before the start of the season, I've spread this between the 3 contenders over the past 3 weeks so that I win around £70 whichever of these comes out on top - a bit cowardly I know, but i view the last race as being more or less a lottery.
The current odds for the protagonists are:
Alonso 0.86/1 with Betfair
Webber 1.8/1 with Paddy Power
Vettel 10/1 with bet265 or Stan James

You pays your money and you takes your pick, Vettel looks to have the beating of the other two and imho is the value bet, but can he win by the required margin? That's a very tough ask of him? Good luck to you all.

Morris Dancer said...


Good job one of us is paying attention. I'll check that and correct it for the pre-qualifying bit.

Cheers, Mr. Putney.

I'd say that the problem for Vettel isn't his own pace, which has been outstanding recently [more so than his car], but the requirement of others to do less well. Alonso in particular may be a problem. Vettel could really use a mighty McLaren/Renault/Mercedes performance in Abu Dhabi.