Yellow flags at Interlagos during the 2012 Brasil Formula One GP

They’ve been over the footage of the Vettel-Kobayasi pass under variable flagging.

First there is a yellow light next to a slippery surface flag.  Then there is a green light!  Then there is a yellow light again, Vettel passes, Kobayashi IMMEDIATELY goes into the pits.

Based on the complexity of the situation, multiple flags, extreme conditions, and Kobayashi immediate entry into the pits, you’ve got to call this a racing incident.

Even if Vettel were to (inappropriately) get the maximum penalty for this, he would only go back one position, and stil win the championship.

So why lay the penalty?

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Nothing else really matters, final race, 2012 Formula One Grand Prix calendar – Interlagos, Sao Paulo, BRAZIL

Friday November 23rd 2012

There are two title contenders left for the 2012 F1 Drivers’ Championship, neither one of them look to be the fastest so far, not that it may make much of a difference in the weekend.

Lewis continues to have an edge over Vettel as the fastest package with the McLaren, a quarter of a second ahead of Vettel, with nine more drivers within a second.

For the race, we can take only the broadest brush strokes; the main reason, variations in:

  1. hot and cold, and
  2. dry and wet

Currently, the weather predictions are 100% rain, and 15 degrees colder, yes, COLD!

First off, way to go Lewis!  Getting your fiftieth win at McLaren would be totally reflective of your career there, and an appropriate way to move on…

For the contenders:

Vettel-Red Bull:

It’s comparatively straight-forward at Red Bull.  Besides making what ever preparations they can for the expected cold, wet weather, they just need to get the best car they can ready and reliable for Vettel, then let him do his stuff.

Alonso-Ferrari:

It’s complicated at Ferrari; they have to gamble one way or another.  Even in a best case scenario, Vettel gets a DNF, Alonso still needs to be on the podium to win the championship.  Let’s face it, if Vettel finishes the race, then Alonso really almost must have a win.  It’s been a while.  But Ferrari will do everything they can to win; expect the unexpected this weekend, expect bizarre happenstance; if advantage can be gained behind the scenes, expect Ferrari to be making the most of it.  I think you can look on an Alonso victory in the championship to be the only thing that will keep Stefano Domenicali secure in his job for another season.

The changing weather conditions favour the bold, and whether deserved or not, Alonso has the reputation of making the most of all conditions.  One way or another, Ferrari are going to have to be ready for any track condition, maximized for any track condition.

Also, I expect radical manoeuvres to get Fernando further up the grid; off the top of my head, figuring out what I would do, for example: look for a light-fueled Massa to get the pole, then control the pace by very, very aggressively managing challengers, to enable the well-motivated and capable Alonso, possibly fueled to require a safety car deployment, ample opportunity to move up through the field, if he qualifies using a race-optimized set up, i.e. high-seven gear ratio for passing on straights, etc.

With the expected weather, the chance of there NOT being a safety car, is slim to none; for this race, I will go out on a limb and say that there SHALL be a safety car deployment, at least one.

The big disadvantage to my proposed strategy is the start amongst so many jacked-up mid-fielders, taking Alonso’s fate into a checkered crowd, no mater how good he is, in the mid-pack, into the first corner, his fate is in the hands of many; a huge gamble in the rain and cold.

Speakng of the rain and cold:

Just who knows how the tires will perform?

We’ve had cool and wet races this year, but quite a while ago by the measure of the development pace this year.

For example, didn’t Mercedes win one this year?

So it is going to be a bit of a lottery.

I’m still hoping for a Kamui Kobyashi victory this year, and this will be the best chance he is ever likely to get.

Go Kobyashi, go!

Also would be a good way for Lewis to finish off his McLaren career.

I’d enjoy seeing a second Kimi victory.

But I’m really putting the crystal ball away for this race.  With the cold and wet, and in particular, the cold and wet, following abruptly after hot and dry and/or hot and wet, means that most predictability is out the window, and down the sewer (where it belongs).

My recommendation:

Just enjoy the race; it could be good.

2012 Suzuka – Race Report – Vettel wins and looks on track to win the 2012 Championship

Wow!

Vettel:
as previously stated, is the hottest driver in F1, and now that the Red Bull has been brought onto pace, leap-frogging Lotus, who has been in the news so much with their inability to get their double-DRS working, he will, as predicted, win the world championship this year.

Alonso:
If he has a weakness, could it be over-bearing vindictiveness? He couldn’t let go the last moment spin by Raikkonen in qualifying, hardly worthy of a second thought, however, it looked like Alonso was delivering retribution by moving Raikkonen off the track. Contrary to his clear-headed focus on doing what he has to to garner the most points, Alonso lost focus and tried to punish Kimi with an uneven squeeze; and it may prove decisive with Vettel cruising through to within four points of Alonso.

Raikkonen:
If anyone has earned respect, by driving fair in wheel to wheel dueling this year, it is Kimi. Alonso’s insistence that he should have ‘lifted’ is ridiculous, after Alonso’s bizarre squeeze tactic at the start. Despite a lack-lustre performance, all weekend really, by Kimi, the distance between him and the lead has been reduced again. But if Lotus cannot get at least on par with Red Bull, Vettel will cruise to the world championship this year with as much difficulty as he won Suzuka 2012.

Kamui Kobayashi:
Star of the race!  As predicted in previous entries, Kamui has gained a podium this year.  Way to go!   A fully deserved podium, maybe the first of more than one this year, I don’t doubt it.  Hopefully people can now consider that Kobayashi is as good as I’ve been saying.  He is getting better, and I think he can eventually be world championship material.  Hey, BTW: here’s one you haven’t heard before, Kobayashi to Ferrari for 2013, a marketing coupe at the very least, and I’ll say it again, he could surprise, dramatically, given even better equipment.  Kudos to Sauber to continue delivering the goods.  Peter Sauber is now becoming one of the most enduring figures in Formula One history.

Grosjean:
Something has to be said: yes, he has shown speed, like… Maldonado, but as Webber strongly suggests, at what point does the governing body have to intervene?  A stop and go in the context of the history of the season is just not enough!  At Monza and Singapore, we saw a heightened enforcement of this kind of driving, if consistent through Suzuka, then another one race ban would be the minimum expected.  And over at Lotus, even though they love having the Swiss-French/French (what ever he actually is) driving for the traditionally French team, it is now clear that he is adversely affecting their drive to third in the constructors, and less so, assisting Kimi’s drive for the drivers’ championship.

Massa:
A life raft in the middle of the ocean is how this race result looks to be for Massa.  Few have doubt that Massa has been a very competent driver in his career, though many have commented that he doesn’t seem the same since the accident.  I believe his dip in form, if that is what it has been, is more attributable to being teamed with the giant of psychological warfare, and master of team management, Fernando Alonso.  I’m not slagging Alonso, these skills may be seen as critical for success in modern F1.  The play book for these skills and reinforcement for these tactics was written by Michael Schumacher, and he is the most successful driver in F1 history, whether you like it or not.  Massa has arguably been teamed with cumulatively, the best drivers in history: Schumacher, Raikkonen, and now Alonso!  Incredible!  But this will likely not save his seat for next year; the only thing that will give him a shot at a Ferrari drive next year is if he overtly enables Alonso to win the world championship.  He still has a lot of races left to do what he did to Hamilton, to Vettel and anybody else challenging Alonso.  I for one, hope that he holds his head high, drives his very best, and gets the most points, for MASSA, that he can.  Congradulations Filipe on your return to form.  Talk to Williams; that would be a great drive for you next year, if you could get it.

Red Bull:
Who doubted their development prowess? All one needs to say is, “Adrian Newey”. The Red Bull has peaked at just the right time, and they look very, very solid to win another couple of championships, both Constructors’ and drivers’.

Conclusion:
With the way Vettel is driving, anyone who shall vie to challenge him will have to have a better car, and that just does not seem likely.