Vettel victory at Suzuka marks turning point of 2012 title race
8 October, 2012
Oct.8 (GMM) The final five races of the 2012 season will in al likelihood be a head-to-head contest between Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel, with both protagonists pushing to add prestigious third crowns to their personal tallies. Vettel’s would be a rare hat trick, with only two other drivers (Argentine legend Juan Manuel Fangio and compatriot Michael Schumacher) having achieved the feat of three titles in a row in sixty years of Formula One racing.
Mathematically, however, there are plenty of contenders still in the running, including Kimi Raikkonen, Lewis Hamilton, Mark Webber, Jenson Button, Nico Rosberg and even the beleaguered Romain Grosjean and Felipe Massa.
But Bild newspaper confidently predicts that German Vettel “will be world champion” after he won so dominantly from pole at Suzuka, while Alonso’s Ferrari ended up the first-corner dirt trap.
Until very recently, Spaniard Alonso was the overwhelming title favourite, causing Austria’s Kleine Zeitung to muse after Japan that Suzuka was “The great turning point” in the 2012 battle.
Some think it is not Alonso’s bad luck that is the major factor, but Red Bull’s latest – and (until now) low-profile Adrian Newey-penned aerodynamic development.
The new ‘double DRS’ has undoubtedly been a factor as Vettel overcame McLaren’s recent dominance with wins in Singapore and now Japan.
“You don’t develop something like that overnight,” Germany’s Auto Motor und Sport quotes Ferrari boss Stefano Domenicali as saying.
McLaren’s Martin Whitmarsh concurs: “It’s not a good idea to panic.”
But the Briton admitted that McLaren has a double-DRS “project” on the back-burner.
Former F1 engineer and manager Joan Villadelprat wrote in Spain’s El Pais newspaper: “Less than a month ago nobody would have bet on Red Bull in this championship.
“But Ferrari cannot give up because they have the means to develop until the very last race, despite the problems they’re having in [their] wind tunnel.
“And they have an extraordinary driver in Fernando Alonso, who even after two retirements is still able to aspire for the title with only five races to go.”
“For six races,” he told Spanish reporters after retiring in Suzuka, “we have had the same car, without a single new piece.
“Felipe [Massa] did a perfect race, driving well, but I see his second place as a little coincidental. There were people with much faster cars, making mistakes and going off the track one after another.”
Domenicali is quoted by Brazil’s O Estado de S.Paulo: “I can fully understand his frustration right now.
“But you all can be assured that we are working hard to give Fernando a car with which he can express his talent.”
But German commentator Christian Danner said: “Red Bull has made such a big jump, and now have such an incredibly good car, that I can hardly imagine Ferrari challenging them now.”
Subbed by AJN.
- Horner: It’s unimaginable that Vettel has had the run of success that he’s had
- Vettel: It looks very good at this stage but it’s not over before it’s over
- Webber: A sensational result for me in my last time here in Japan in Formula 1
- Grosjean: I thought it was the day that the first victory was coming
- Red Bull: A massive result for the team to achieve a one-two in Japan
- Webber unlikely to adhere Red Bull team orders at Suzuka
- Red Bull: It’s great to have secured front row for the race
- Red Bull: The car balance is decent, but we can still improve
- Vettel wary of eating nuclear sushi in Japan
- New Red Bull RB9 chassis for Webber after Korea fire