F1 World Championship: The race is not over yet
Last year, the Buddh International Circuit was all set to host the first ever edition of Indian Grand Prix as the autumn sunshine welcomed the F1 bandwagon that had chosen Noida as its latest pit stop. The ever increasing excitement combined with the novelty factor was enough for 95,000 race enthusiasts to throng the circuit on the race day to witness the racecraft of 24 elite drivers representing 12 teams.
A new host and the presence of racing superstars with a mixture of India’s who’s who in attendance made for a deadly cocktail. However, the only thing amiss was the brain storming sessions and the ‘permutations and combinations’ that form a crucial part of the teams’ strategy who are vying for the top spot by the business end of the season. Blame it on Sebastian Vettel, whose incredible run during the 2011 season saw him sealing the World Championship well before the final chequered flag was waved at Autódromo José Carlos Pace in Brazil.
However, this year the Indian Grand Prix forms one of the most crucial pit stops as the F1 caravan moves to India with Vettel and Fernando Alonso locked in a close tussle to finish at top of the standings.
The first seven races of the season saw seven different winners and thus began one of the most intriguing, engaging and unpredictable run which is now drawing to a conclusive end that will see either Alonso or Vettel being crowned as the youngest ever triple world champion.
Red Bull have picked up form at the right time and with the Korean GP they have become the first team in 2012 to have finished at the top of the charts having milked the maximum points possible in a GP race. They are also leading the constructors’ championship.
There are still four races to go and at the same time last year, Vettel was already celebrating his second consecutive world title becoming the youngest ever to accomplish the feat.
In a stark contrast, as would appeal to the fans and sponsors alike, it seems we are all set for a close finish unless Red Bull continue with their progress and Ferrari refusing to make any upgrades to their car which, as per the current circumstances, seems unlikely.
McLaren began the season with a bang registering podium finishes in the first three races apart from winning the inaugural race with Jenson Button. However, as the season progressed, they went out of title race and their degrading performance over the course of the year accentuated by the 10th place finish in the Korean GP.
Fernando Alonso, even though not in the fastest car, was leading the championship since June but surrendered it after Vettel registered his third win on the trot at Yeongnam and now a slender margin of six points separates the duo.
If Ferrari still harbours any hope of winning the title, the team cannot just rely on podium finishes and will have to come up with major upgrades to match the pace and consistency of their rival.
With Lewis Hamilton, Kimi Raikkonen and Jenson Button conceding all hopes, the title is for Vettel or Alonso to win.
The inaugural Indian GP proved to be a successful affair with a few minor glitches (read a surprise visit to the track by a stray dog, purportedly there to make one final inspection delaying the free practice session).
The organisers are taking every step possible this year to deliver an incident-free race with the hopes of enthralling on-field action. The interest in the Indian GP has also heightened because of the fact that this is going to be one last time that Michael Schumacher will be scorching the track at the BIC in an F1 car.