The 2012 Formula One championship will be decided at the season ending Brazilian Grand Prix at Sao Paulo this weekend.
Only two drivers—Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso—can secure the title. Both have had outstanding seasons but for different reasons. So who deserves the title more?
Vettel and Alonso are separated by only 13 points after 19 races. Vettel has the edge and realistically would have to either crash or have a mechanical failure to see the title go to Alonso.
But it’s been that kind of season.
Alonso has been incredibly consistent, getting more performance out of the underperforming Ferrari than perhaps any other driver on the grid would have been able to. Vettel has had the superior car, but has been hamstrung by reliability issues.
And he has a much stronger teammate to take points away from him.
Both drivers have failed to finish two races. Vettel succumbed to alternator failures at Monza and Valencia, whereas Alonso was taken out in the spectacular accident with Romain Grosjean at Spa and again after tangling with Kimi Raikkonen at Suzuka.
Renault will probably not be on Alonso’s Christmas card list this year.
Alonso’s consistency is staggering. He has secured points in every race that he finished and gotten onto the podium a staggering 12 times so far—two times more than Vettel.
But he’s only won three races, and while there are plenty of drivers on the grid who’d be thrilled with that, Lewis Hamilton and Vettel have both done better.
So who deserves it and who'll win?
Vettel scored points in 16 of the races so far and has appeared on the podium 10 times. The difference is that on five of those occasions it’s been for a race win—and that’s where the points are.
Few people would argue that Vettel has had the superior car, particularly in the second-half of the season. He has also had the skill to capitalise on that superior performance, securing four consecutive wins in Singapore, Japan, Korea and India.
Alonso, on the other hand, has been stuck with a car that is the third best on the grid at best. It was abundantly clear from as early as pre-season testing that Ferrari were going to struggle to compete on even terms with Red Bull and McLaren.
Despite that, he has performed superhuman acts to carry the car to arguably undeserved success. His combination of experience and raw talent has succeeded where horsepower and engineering have stumbled.
So either driver would be a worthy champion, but who deserves it more?
Sebastian Vettel, obviously.
The world champion should be the one who won the most races and that’s Vettel. Consistency is an admirable quality, but it doesn’t inspire. Winning does.
Alonso has achieved remarkable things this season, and if events conspire to deliver him the championship he will be a worthy champion, but the title is Vettel’s to lose.
We’ll see what happens on Sunday.