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Still to play for - the Sao Paulo showdowns 21 Nov 2011

Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren, Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 10 October 2010 (L to R): Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren and Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 13, Italian Grand Prix, Practice Day, Monza, Italy, Friday, 9 September 2011 Nico Rosberg (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02 and Michael Schumacher (GER) Mercedes GP MGP W02.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Race, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Sunday, 13 November 2011 Kamui Kobayashi (JPN) Sauber C30 and Sebastien Buemi (SUI) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR6. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 8, European Grand Prix, Race, Valencia, Spain, Sunday, 26 June 2011 Heikki Kovalainen (FIN) Team Lotus and Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 18, Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, Preparations, Yas Marina Circuit, Abu Dhabi, UAE, Thursday, 10 November 2011 Timo Glock (GER) Virgin Racing MVR-02 and Jerome d'Ambrosio (BEL) Virgin Racing MVR-02 lead Vitantonio Liuzzi (ITA) HRT Formula One Team HRT F111 and Daniel Ricciardo (AUS) HRT Formula One Team HRT F111.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 14, Singapore G Dr Mario Theissen (GER) BMW Motorsport Technical Director with Sebastien Vettel (GER) and Nigel Mansell (GBR). Formula BMW World Final, Sakhir, Bahrain, 13-16 December 2005.

Both championships were settled long ago, but that doesn’t mean there is nothing at stake at this weekend’s season-ending Formula 1 Grande Premio Petrobras do Brasil 2011 - far from it in fact. Numerous teams and drivers remain locked in lesser, but just as meaningful battles as they look to better their positions in the final standings. We take a look at five of the most fascinating…

1. Drivers’ runner-up spot - Button versus Alonso versus Webber
Finishing second may only make you the ‘first of the losers’, but that doesn’t mean these three won’t be fighting it out tooth and nail come Sunday. With Webber on 233 points to Button’s 255 and Alonso’s 245, the Red Bull driver is the rank outsider. Given the equipment at his disposal his form has been disappointing all season, though some might argue that means he’s overdue a strong result - perhaps even his first win of 2011. By contrast, Button’s (and McLaren’s) form has been superb of late and it will take an almighty effort from Alonso to make up that ten-point deficit in one Grand Prix. The Spaniard famously never gives up, however, and finishing second in the standings in what is clearly the grid’s third-best car (a fact that should have consigned him to fifth) would bring huge kudos to the Ferrari star.

2. Young against old at Mercedes - Rosberg versus Schumacher
After his disappointing comeback season in 2010, many had written off Schumacher and his early 2011 results did little to change that view. Slowly but surely, though, he has chiselled away at Rosberg’s advantage, leaving him just five points shy of the young pretender heading to the season’s penultimate Abu Dhabi round. Rosberg stretched that to seven at Yas Marina, but with Schumacher have scored 34 to his fellow German’s 26 in the last six races, it’s going to be enthralling to see if the seven-time champ can pull it out of the bag in Brazil.

3. Seventh place at stake - Sauber versus Toro Rosso
Italian passion takes on Swiss precision, powered by identical Ferrari engines. Sauber had the better start to the year, but have lost out in the late-season development race. Toro Rosso, by contrast, have taken a significant step forward in recent rounds, particularly in terms of straight-line speed. It means that while Sauber have added just seven points to their haul since July’s German Grand Prix, Toro Rosso’s has increased by 24. With Sauber now just one ahead, they have their work cut out if they are to hold the charging bull at bay.

4. Best ‘newcomer’ honours - Lotus versus HRT versus Virgin
None has yet scored a point, but of the three teams that joined the grid in 2010, it’s Lotus that have taken the big step forward in ‘season two’. However, at this end of the table even non-point scoring results can have a big effect, which means their current - and highly-coveted - top-ten spot is by no means secure. Should HRT or Virgin secure a 12th place-finish (in front of both Lotus cars) in Brazil, they could move ahead of the soon-to-be-Caterham squad. Similarly, Virgin could still haul themselves off the bottom of the standings if they can match HRT’s season-best finish of 13th place on Sunday.

5. One for the record - Vettel versus Mansell
In 1992 Nigel Mansell set 14 pole positions in a single season. Vettel matched that in Abu Dhabi, leaving him one away from record-breaking glory this weekend. Out to stop him will be the two McLarens, whose qualifying pace has been getting stronger and stronger of late. That has forced the young German to draw on more and more of his Senna-esque one-lap wonder to secure P1 and he will need all he can muster in Sao Paulo. To put his potential achievement in context, the ’92 season had just 16 rounds to this year’s 19, though Mansell’s Williams was arguably a more dominant machine than the 2011 Red Bull. One factor perhaps not in Vettel’s favour? Britain’s Jenson Button is currently sporting a Mansell-style moustache…

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