So here we are again, the business end of the season, where an entire year (or lifetime) of work and effort is culminating. So we arrive in Brazil with a similar scene as we had last year Hamilton is ahead of a Ferrari by seven points.
There are also some significant differences to last year, namely the Ferrari that is chasing is being driven by another man who names Ayrton Senna as his idol, Massa. Another difference that not many commentators have mentioned yet, this year we have a simple two-way scrap for the title, 2007 was a three-way dogfight. In 2007, we arrived in Sao Paulo with a bitter inter-team rivalry at McLaren and only four points separating Hamilton and Alonso, with Räikkönen on a late season surge that saw him just another three points behind Alonso.
Now this makes Hamilton's objective much simpler than last year. "Finish fifth or better" computes much easier than "Finish on Alonso's gearbox, as long as you're not too far behind Räikkönen".
Hamilton not only has the support of McLarren but Kovalainen has also shown he is willing to provide the best result for the 'team' (see: Germany). McLaren have also continued development deep into the season and will have a new rear wing and other upgrades unveiled at Brazil all designed to give Hamilton the edge and bring him home the WDC.
Massa's objective is as simple as Hamilton's - "Win", second can't even be an option in Massa's mind at the moment as he has to rely on others even if he wins, finishing second leaves him open to even further outside influence. Just as Kovalainen is Hamilton's wing-man, Massa has Räikkönen playing on his side (see: China), and in previous years Massa has produced strong drives in his home event.
It is hard to see Hamilton besting Massa this weekend as past form has show the Intergalos circuit to suit Ferrari more than McLaren, it may very well be a battle well lost to win the war in Hamilton's opinion, the title is well within his grasp, and it is currently more his to lose than Massa's to win. It may just depend on the Lewis Hamilton that turns up on Sunday afternoon—the eight year old karting kid that wants to win the race at any cost, or the mature level-headed 23-year old that understands that today even fifth is good enough.
Both McLaren and Ferrari are also aiming to take home the Contractor's Championship this weekend, but it seems that Ferrari have already got one hand on the trophy. With an 11-point lead McLaren must surely hope for a double Ferrari retirement in order to win the WCC. Kovalainen's results this year have been disappointing (he's not only behind his team mate and the Ferrari's but both BMW's and Alonso!) and as such it is difficult to see McLaren taking 12 points home.
A quick look further down the grid also shows some interesting battles down the pack. Kubica, in a stunning show of consistency, is still holding Räikkönen at bay for third in the WDC. A six-point buffer means he might just have enough to get a thoroughly deserved result.
As was mentioned earlier Alonso is in sixth place just three points ahead of Kovalainen. A steady points finish will probably allow Alonso to hold onto another great result after a steady points gain since mid-season (he has finished fourth or better in his last six finishes).
Trulli and Vettel are tied on 30 points and with the late season form of Toro Rosso, it's hard to see the Italian holding the young German off. The battle for the final championship points will be interesting with Glock a solitary point in front of Webber, with Red Bull's poor run since Silverstone, it's likely the Toyota will be able to hold on to 10th in the WDC.
The top five in the WCC seems settled, but amongst the mid-field some changes are possible. Only five points behind their little brother, Red Bull have the opportunity, however unlikely, to save some face and finish in front of Toro Rosso. They should probably look over their shoulder first as Williams is only three points behind them.
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