Formula 1 Championship: Alonso Relaxed While Vettel Battles Mind Games

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Formula 1 Championship: Alonso Relaxed While Vettel Battles Mind Games
Mark Thompson/Getty Images

While Fernando Alonso remains realistic about his chances of securing his third world championship, Felipe Massa feels unconstrained by reality or logic, claiming that he wants to win the Brazilian Grand Prix to help his teammate secure the title.

While there are circumstances in which Massa could win the race and Alonso win the title—like Sebastian Vettel’s car being hit by a meteorite (or Romain Grosjean) or the dreaded Renault alternator deciding to go on its end-of-season break a few hours earlier than everyone else—the chances of Massa actually being allowed to win the race are slimmer than those of Bernie Ecclestone becoming the next Pussycat Doll.

Massa told ESPN F1:

Well first of all I'll try to win a third time. I think that's always the right direction to think about racing, you're always thinking about the victory. Here is a very special place for me and I'm going to try to win. Hopefully Fernando can finish second without any problems to win the championship.

While there’s merit to Massa’s approach, he must be delusional if he thinks that Ferrari will allow him to beat Alonso while Vettel’s Red Bull is still running.

Alonso, by contrast remains philosophical, Telling ESPN F1:

This is Formula One and this is sport so anything can happen until the chequered flag. We will try to do the best race we can and try to cross the line on the podium, which will give us more than 13 points, and then we will see where Sebastian crosses the line. If we win we will be very happy, but we know to win we will need a strange combination of results. If we don't win we will congratulate him [Vettel] and we will try next year.

Andrew Hone/Getty Images

It’s a healthy attitude and recognises that Vettel is the most likely championship winner for 2012.

Alonso has cleverly put all of the pressure on the German Red Bull pilot and pressure can make people do funny things.

This is uncharted territory for Vettel in F1. In 2010, all expectation was on a battle between Alonso and Mark Webber, before Vettel came from the clouds to snatch victory while the others fought amongst themselves.

In 2011, Vettel was so far ahead of the pack that he was already champion with four races still to be run.

This time, he goes into the decider defending a lead in the championship; the title is his to lose.

Already, he finds himself feeling it necessary to defend his success, telling The F1 Times that it is the combination of car and driver that has secured his titles, not the car alone.

"It is a natural thing to happen: One day you have a strong driver in a strong team so you end up with a strong combination and that is difficult to beat."

As if the innuendo wasn’t enough, for some inexplicable reason Bernie Ecclestone decided to have a kick at Vettel, claiming on Wednesday that Vettel lacks charisma according to Yalla F1.

Why he thought the best time to bring it up would be in the middle of the championship deciding week is anyone’s guess. It’s just the sort of thing that Vettel doesn’t need in his head and it’s the sort of thing that Alonso doesn’t have to contend with.

Winning car aside, Vettel will need mental toughness to win this championship. We'll see on Sunday if he has it.

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