It’s mathematics time!
Yes, it’s the time when the maths gets complicated. This year, the Formula 1 title race still has 5 contendors left with only 2 races to run. Normally, there’s only 2 or 3 drivers left in contention and with 10 points for the win, it was easy to work out most combination of results.
For this season, we now have 25 points for the win. To make life easier, I’ve put up what’s required from each driver left to win (or to not have a chance of winning).
Jenson Button – 189 Points
Jenson is in big trouble. He’s basically out of the championship hunt, though mathematically still within reach. Barring a miracle, he’s out.
Alonso only needs to score 8 points (6th place) to put Jenson completely out of reach.
Sebastian Vettel – 206 Points
Vettel had a good win taken away from him in Korea by his engine failing. Well, exploding really considering the amount of pieces pouring out of the car as it rolled to a halt. Along with Webber’s crash, this meant that it was a rather bad race for Red Bull Racing.
This leaves Vettel 25 points, or precisely 1 win, behind Alonso. Seb can finish equal with Alonso if he wins both races and Alonso doesn’t score another podium. We get a little messy on countback. Alonso and Vettel are currently equal on 2nd places but Vettel is up by one on both 3rd and 4th place finishes.
As there are only 2 races left, it will virtually require a failure of some sort from Alonso for Vettel to reach the top.
If we assume no failures, Vettel will need to win both remaining races and Alonso finish 4th or lower. With more wins for Vettel if he takes out both races, he will overtake Webber though ending on equal points if Webber is able to take out 2nd in both races as well. To translate, that means Vettel needs to win and hope for others to get in Alonso’s way.
Lewis Hamilton – 210 Points
Lewis is a mere 4 points ahead of Vettel, so his situation is quite similar. The very slight difference for Hamilton is that he can have Alonso finish on the podium once in 3rd place, along with a 4th place in the other race and can still take the title with 2 wins.
Once more, Alonso still has the advantage in race wins at the moment 5-3 over Lewis. To be a little different, Lewis is well up on 2nd places 4-2. If Lewis is able to catch up (with 2 wins) to Alonso but not overtake on points, then the title goes to Lewis on countback. Anything less than 2 wins, with a points tie, the title goes to Alonso.
Mark Webber – 220 Points
The simplest solution for Webber is that 2 wins means the title is his. Thanks to the 7 point gap between 1st and 2nd place, Webber would be able to jump Alsono.
If Webber is able to catch up but not overtake Alonso, which means a maximum of 1 win out of the 2 races, then Alonso is in the slightly better position on countback. As usual, though, this depends less on the results of races past and more on races yet to come.
Webber is up 3-2 on 2nd places but 1 behind (at the moment) on race wins. 3rd places are equal, but from there the advantage is Alonso’s. Alonso has two 4th places, while Webber’s next best result is a single 5th place.
Due to the point gaps for race finishes, Webber can take the title with two 2nd places as long as Alonso finishes 4th or lower each time. Though I should note that this would also require neither Vettel nor Hamilton winning both of those races – one each would be ok.
Fernando Alonso – 231 Points
Finally, we have the championship leader. Thanks to the fortuitous result in Korea, Alonso has a very handy 11 point lead over Webber.
A late-season charge by Ferrari, along with the 7 bonus points in Germany, means that Alonso is in the best position of the contenders. And yes, Ferrari will point to Germany as the correct decision is Alonso wins by fewer than 7 points.
Skipping how Alonso could lose the title, as that has been covered already, Alonso needs to finish ahead of Vettel in Brazil to put him out of the championship. Hamilton is a little harder to beat, but a couple of positions ahead for Fernando will likely knock out Lewis as well.
That would leave a clear fight between Alonso and Webber for the final race in Abu Dhabi. 11 points are not a lot. If neither driver wins a race, the Alonso only needs to remain within 1 place behind Webber in each race to clinch the title. The only way for Alonso to drop Webber prior to Abu Dhabi, without Webber retiring in Brazil, is for a win and Webber to finish in 5th place or lower.
Who will win?
I’m not going to pretend I have no bias here. I want Webber to win the title.
As always, the driver ahead on points has the advantage and that is currently Alonso. While saying that, we’ve seen large point gaps disappear very quickly in previous seasons including those that many would call impossible (e.g. 17 points in 2 races when 10 points were for the win).
The main aim for any of the remaining 5 is to come away from Brazil within 25 points of the points leader. If this happens, then there is a chance of the World Championship. If there’s a chance of the World Championship, there’ll be a hungry driver trying to take it.
If is a lovely word. It means everything and nothing at the same time. Roll on Brazil.