The Formula 1 Championship has said farewell to Europe for another year with the big question being posed – as the mechanics packed up and the trucks left Monza – was when and where, rather than whether, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel will wrap up his increasingly inevitable fourth successive title.
It all comes down to simple mathematics, with the Red Bull driver now 53 points clear of second placed Alonso with seven races, worth a total of 175 points still available to be won.
The 26-year-old German has won half of the races this season and, ominously for his rivals. The last two – Belgium and Italy were supposed to be his bogey circuits – with team principal Christian Horner going so far as to call them Red Bull’s “Achilles heel”.
The next four are Singapore, South Korea, Japan and India. Vettel won all of them last year. The German’s closest rivals have no illusions about their scant chances.
Lewis Hamilton’s immediate response after finishing ninth in the race for Mercedes was to declare his championship challenge over, although he then had a rethink and vowed to keep fighting even if the odds were stacked against him.
“I basically need to win every race, which is the tallest order ever, but I can do nothing but try,” said the 2008 champion, who is now third overall but a massive 81 points behind the leader. “I wish it was a closer battle at the front. It’s a shame it is like it is.”
Alonso said it would take a lot of luck for him to overhaul the Red Bull, “I think we need to be realistic about the championship now there’s a very big gap. We don’t have enough races and probably we don’t have the speed right now to win some consecutive races and hope to reduce the gap just by pace.”
“We need to be lucky and we need to have some DNFs (retirements) from Sebastian or something to win the championship. With the races left and the points disadvantage, it’s hard.”
Asked whether it was all over, Horner refused to tempt fate and repeated a familiar mantra.
“The championship is not yours until nobody can score more points than you,” he said. “So we are going to continue the approach that we’ve always taken which is focus one race at a time and try to get the best out of each weekend.
“It’s been a big weekend for us here…for Sebastian to extend his lead in the drivers’ championship and for the team to extend its lead in the constructors’ championship is obviously massively positive for us. But there’s still some way to go.” (Reuters)
Subbed by AJN.