At the time of writing, the 2012 F1 Championship is still to be decided between the Sebastien Vettel and Fernando Alonso. The smart money is on Vettel, who, since the Singapore GP, has returned to a more consistent form. The more risk loving will bet on the charismatic Spaniard. Fernando Alonso still within a fighting chance of winning the title is in need of, as he himself puts it,”strange circumstances” to aid him to victory.
What seems to surround most forums and blogs, is the discussion between who deserves the title more, Vettel or Alonso? Arguments vary both ways; Alonso has been troubled with a less reliable and slower car, yet that is the nature of racing, things don’t always go the way they’re supposed to. Vettel has been more consistent and more dominant, but a lot of this has to do with Red Bull’s success with the airflow management and car set-ups. Alonso emerges as the underdog, struggling with a slower car, against the reigning Vettel and the vastness of Red Bulls’ dominance as constructors.
For me, the question on who deserves the title, is found neither in the vicinity of Red Bull or Ferrari, the answer resides in the stable of McLaren. Lewis Hamilton has been both phenomenally quick and unusually unfortunate this season. Four retirements, in key races, along with mechanical difficulties and failures have stripped the future Mercedes driver from the possibility of winning a championship he by all means should be contending for.
The beginning of the season saw a somewhat strong McLaren, a win for Button and a third for Hamilton in Australia ignited the hopes of many British fans to once again see their countrymen holding the championship title. However, as the season progressed, so did the difficulties the team were having. McLaren have experienced a bombardment of failures and mistakes that have cost both Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton important qualifying and race results. The list ranges from overheating brake ducts to set-up failures in terms of balance, to transmission and alternator problems. Furthermore, the pit crew have also contributed to the troubles by struggling with the left rear tyres on Hamilton’s car and placing insufficient amount of fuel for qualifying.
The Spanish Grand Prix qualifications saw Hamilton annihilate the competition, and it was as Hamilton described it as “one of the best [qualifications] I have ever driven”. Yet a failure by one of the mechanics to put a sufficient amount of fuel into the car saw Hamilton demoted to the last place. In Abu Dhabi, at the start of the race, Hamilton was unchallenged by all. Kimi Raikkonen had no chance of catching up the McLaren, and the only reason he won was because Hamilton was forced to retire, again, due to technical difficulties.
Hamilton has driven superbly this season, there has not been any hot-headiness that escalated into conflicts with other drivers, or stupid driving causing dangerous situations. Hamilton has simply been fast, the only errors that I can think he has made, is braking too late into corners and locking up his brakes on occasion. Hamilton has matured as an individual, and it is reflected in his driving. In the US Grand Prix, Hamilton was so focused, he chased Vettel down lap after lap, waiting for the right moment to strike. Once past, he led the race with pace and finesse, and for once without technical difficulties won the race. A fantastic achievement, but more importantly a sign of what Hamilton is capable of given the right car.
The qualification in the Brazilian GP saw Hamilton and Button grab 1-2 poles, again signifying that maybe McLaren have finally polished their act and are back on track. Unfortunately for McLaren and Hamilton this has happened way too late, but as it always is, that is the nature of racing, fueled by ‘what ifs’ and ‘only ifs’. I’ve never been much of a Hamilton fan, but looking back, this should have been his championship. Vettel and Alonso have both driven well, but the few times the set-up and the McLaren car has worked a 100%, Hamilton has been unquestionably dominant. Unfortunately for Hamilton, the chances of him winning the title are non existent, and thus words of every coach when faced with a loosing spell apply: “There’s always next season”.
Image Source: Wikicommons