This is it: the world championship decider. Who’s going to be the youngest triple world champion in history: Fernando Alonso or Sebastian Vettel?
If form has anything to do with it, Vettel will have the rub of the green at Interlagos. He holds a 13-point advantage going into the weekend and he’s finished on the podium in each of the last six races, winning four of them. If he finishes on the podium here, the title will be his – irrespective of Alonso’s final finishing position.
But the Spaniard just won’t give up. His Ferrari isn’t quite as fast as the Red Bull, but he refuses to let such a detail interfere with his title assault. Time and again this year he’s dragged the last ounce of performance from his F2012, and that’s been enough to keep him in the title hunt. He has a good record at Interlagos too; he clinched both of his world titles at the track in 2005 and ’06, and the rain predicted on Sunday could turn the season finale into the kind of lottery in which Alonso thrives.
The title rivals looked relaxed when they arrived at the track on Thursday morning. Seb had travelled straight to Brazil after last weekend’s United States Grand Prix, whereas Fernando had flown to New York to close the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street for sponsor Santander. But rather than viewing this sponsor commitment as a chore, he was in awe of the NYSE.
“It’s an incredible place,” he said. “It was a fantastic feeling to close the stock exchange on Tuesday in front of a global TV audience of 300 million. It was a cool thing to do.”
When Fernando eventually got to the track, he walked into his room to find good luck messages from lots of different Ferrari clubs around the world. “It’s great to have everyone’s support,” he said. “Ferrari is a big family.”
Both Vettel and Alonso were in Thursday’s pre-race press conference, but rather than sitting next to each other, they had Michael Schumacher splitting them in the front row. Maybe the seating plan was aimed at preventing a brawl between them, but that was never likely to happen; they’re far too in control to let their emotions show in such an environment.
Not that it made any difference to the media. Virtually all of the questions were directed at Fernando and Sebastian, despite this being Michael’s last ever grand prix and the other drivers in attendance being the winner of the last race, Lewis Hamilton, and local heroes Felipe Massa and Bruno Senna.
Soon it will be time for the talking to stop; let the best man win!
Oh, and if anyone was looking for Kimi Raikkonen at the track today, they would have struggled to find him. He told Lotus that he wasn’t going to turn up at Interlagos until tomorrow. Because he can.