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Brazil analysis - Vettel in control of title destiny? 08 Nov 2010

The podium (L to R): Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, race winner; Christian Horner (GBR) Red Bull Racing Team Principal and second placed Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 7 November 2010 Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Williams FW32 leads Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari F10.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 7 November 2010 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren on the grid. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 7 November 2010 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W01 and Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) BMW Sauber C29 battle for position.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 7 November 2010 Robert Kubica (POL) Renault R30.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Brazilian Grand Prix, Race, Interlagos, Sao Paulo, Brazil, Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Brazilian Grand Prix set up the first four-way championship fight climax in the sport’s history, as the Formula One paddock heads to Abu Dhabi this week. Sebastian Vettel took the Interlagos win he needed, but with Fernando Alonso still leading the standings, an equally dominant performance from the German at Yas Marina could in theory prevent Red Bull adding the drivers’ championship to their 2010 constructors’ crown. We take a team-by-team look at how things played out in Sao Paulo on Sunday…

Red Bull
Sebastian Vettel, P1
Mark Webber, P2

What a day for Red Bull as their dominant one-two clinched their first constructors’ championship. That means that Adrian Newey has won titles with three different teams… Vettel never looked like being challenged, but for much of the race Webber had an overheating problem that required him to turn down the Renault engine’s power and denied him the chance of pushing his team mate. It was interesting to note, their lack of need to push really hard notwithstanding, that they only set the fourth (Webber) and sixth (Vettel) fastest race laps. The big question, however, is whether the refusal to ask Vettel to move over for Webber will ultimately cost the team the drivers’ title. Alonso has 246 points, Webber 238, Vettel 231, but it could have been Alonso 246, Webber 245, Vettel 224. If Brazil’s podium order is repeated in Abu Dhabi, Alonso will be champion…

Fernando Alonso, P3
Felipe Massa, P15

Alonso lost too much time struggling with Hulkenberg in the opening seven laps, and by the time he got past the Red Bulls were long gone. Even the safety car offered little fresh opportunity as he had seven backmarkers between himself and Webber. But third kept him on track for the title, so he was happy. Interestingly, he set the second-fastest lap. Massa was not happy. He ran strongly early on but a loose right front wheel necessitated a second pit stop, and that left him to a series of unhappy adventures in the midfield for the rest of the afternoon.

Lewis Hamilton, P4
Jenson Button, P5

Hamilton said that his MP4-25 lacked straight-line pace and was concerned that his F duct wasn’t working properly, though the team radioed to say it was okay. He said the car simply wasn’t fast enough, and with 222 points to Alonso’s 245 and only 25 up for grabs in Abu Dhabi, his championship chances are all but over. Button’s are, as his fifth-place finish brought his tally to 199. The outgoing champion was, however, much happier with his car in race trim, and the MP4-25s set the fastest (Hamilton) and third-fastest (Button) race laps.

Mercedes GP
Nico Rosberg, P6
Michael Schumacher, P7

Schumacher looked strong all weekend, but handed sixth place to Rosberg after the younger German went for fresh rubber under the safety car. Rosberg had to stop twice because of a wheel problem, but kept in contention as the field shuffled together, then moved up thanks to Schumacher, who took seventh.

Nico Hulkenberg, P8
Rubens Barrichello, P14

There was no fairy story for Williams. Hulkenberg lost the pole advantage to Vettel even before the first corner, then second place to Webber before the lap was over, but he kept Alonso behind him for seven laps and Hamilton never did get by until the pit stops. The young German did himself a power of good with a strong run ahead of Kubica to eighth place, which put Williams ahead of Force India in the constructors’ stakes. Barrichello was a points contender until his passing move on Alguersuari saw the Toro Rosso clip the Williams’ left front tyre, which was cut. He thus finished a disappointed 14th.

Robert Kubica, P9
Vitaly Petrov, P16

Kubica ran a handy sixth early on, but thereafter got trapped in traffic and spent all of his race chasing Hulkenberg. The Renault was thus never able to demonstrate its true potential and he dropped a place in the points table to Rosberg. Petrov clashed with Massa in Turn One, and finished an undistinguished 16th.

BMW Sauber
Kamui Kobayashi, P10
Nick Heidfeld, P17

Kobayashi did another of his long opening stints and then made up places on fresh super-soft rubber to take the final point after another strong race. Heidfeld couldn’t recognise McLarens in his mirrors after the safety car and got handed a drive-through penalty for ignoring blue flags.

Toro Rosso
Jaime Alguersuari, P11
Sebastien Buemi, P13

No real problems here, though both drivers had contact with others. Alguersuari brushed with Barrichello in Turn One, Buemi with Massa in Turn Four.

Force India
Adrian Sutil, P12
Tonio Liuzzi, Retired lap 50, accident

Sutil started with Bridgestone’s medium tyre and for a long time led the four-car fight for eighth place until finally pit-stopping on the 50th lap, as Liuzzi’s car broke something in the front end and ploughed into the wall on the exit to Turn 2. The Italian shed his super-soft tyres after 16 laps and was quicker than Sutil once he’d got on to the primes.

Heikki Kovalainen, P18
Jarno Trulli, P19

No major problems here, apart from a small hydraulic problem for Trullli that the mechanics were able to sort quickly in his pit stop. The Italian finished within a second of team mate Kovalainen, as Lotus were again best of the new teams.

Timo Glock, P20
Lucas di Grassi, Not classified

Glock was disappointed with 20th place, and the fact that his Virgin lacked the pace of the Lotuses. Di Grassi spent a chunk of the race in the garage with rear suspension maladies and ultimately finished nine laps down.

Bruno Senna, P21
Christian Klien, P22

Nothing major here for Senna, who had a consistent race, but Klien’s was compromised from the start when he finally got going from the pit lane after encountering fuel pressure problems on the grid formation laps.

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