Brazil is hosting the final round of the Formula One world championship this year. The Autodromo Jose Carlos Pace circuit in Sao Paulo – the seventh-largest city in the world – is a cauldron of motor racing passion. This track witnessed gripping conclusions to the 2006, 2007 and 2008 world championships. It’s set to do the same this year – and not for the first time it seems the local climate has a sense of occasion.
Nothing produces dramatic, tense and unpredictable racing like a drop or two of rain. And there’s rather more than that heading for Sao Paulo at the moment. A substantial cold front is working its ways northwards from Argentina and is expected to reach the circuit around the same time the competitive action starts on Saturday.
That weather forecast could be made-to-order for Fernando Alonso, who needs to score a major result over Sebastian Vettel to beat his rival to championship. In dry conditions his Ferrari is likely to lag behind the Red Bull on pure speed. But in the rain the F2012 has been much more competitive: his win in Malaysia and pole positions in Britain and Germany all came on wet tracks.
Brazilian Grand Prix odds
Lewis Hamilton led the way in both practice sessions on Friday. These were held in dry and very warm conditions which saw the track surface temperature soar to almost 50C. Tomorrow is expected to remain similarly hot – including for the all-important qualifying session. But after that the arrival of rain will see temperatures plunge and render much of the testing done on Friday near-useless.
The prospect of rain makes it worth taking a punt on Alonso for this final race. Hamilton and Vettel’s odds have slipped to 2.0 or lower, Alonso’s are more than twice that. Alonso has nothing to lose in this race whereas Vettel can be expected to use a little caution because he’s so close to the title. Hamilton is on a mission to win his final race for McLaren, but his car has not performed as well in wet conditions this year.
Another team who impressed during Friday’s practice was Mercedes. They have failed to score a point in the last five races – ironically, ever since they announced Hamilton will drive for them in 2013. But in Brazil they removed some of their recent upgrades from their car and suddenly were the fourth-quickest team.
Both drivers offer attractive odds on a podium finish and are definitely worth considering. How about backing Michael Schumacher for a fairytale final podium appearance at his last Grand Prix?
How the title can be decided
Alonso has to score at least 14 points more than Vettel this weekend to win the championship. Here are some quick pointers on how the title could be decided and how likely the different outcomes are:
• Vettel will be champion if he finishes fourth or higher no matter where Alonso finishes.
• Alonso can only win the championship by finishing in the top three places. After that it depends where Vettel finishes – see this article on F1 Fanatic for a full breakdown.
• If Alonso retires, Vettel is automatically champion.
• If fewer than 54 of the 71 laps are completed half points will be awarded for the race, and Vettel is automatically champion.
• Of the nineteen races held so far this year, fifteen ended with results which would make Vettel champion this weekend, and four ended with results which would make Alonso champion.
Keith Collantine is the editor of Formula One blog F1 Fanatic.