With the final race of 2008 just two weeks away, I thought I would give everybody some time to assess the current championship standings, and then offer opinion as to who they believe will be the 2008 Formula One World Champion. The comments will be open as usual, and there is a voting form at the bottom of this article. So take a look through the numbers, think about the drivers and their teams, and then let everyone know what you think will be the outcome of the Brazilian Grand Prix.
Surprisingly, the reigning world champion is out of the hunt and Kimi Raikkonen waved goodbye to any title defence in Fuji last weekend. Instead, it has been left to his team mate Felipe Massa to take control and put himself in a position whereby he can still take the coveted trophy. However, one man stands in his way, and Lewis Hamilton must be ultra-confident after his dominant performance at the China Grand Prix. The championship table currently looks like this:
2008 Drivers Title
|12.||Nelson Piquet Jr.||19pts|
2008 Constructors Title
|6.||Scuderia Toro Rosso||34pts|
|7.||Red Bull Racing||29pts|
So Hamilton is 7 points clear of Massa. This means that Massa ideally needs to win at home in Brazil in a fortnight, and hope that Hamilton finishes no higher than sixth. Should the points be tied (by Massa winning and Hamilton finishing sixth) then the positions each driver finished in during the season are back-counted. Currently, both contenders are on five wins each, but a sixth win and equal points would mean Massa crowned as champion.
If the leading Ferrari pilot fails to win in Brazil, then he needs to finish in second and he will also need Hamilton to be no higher than eighth. This would earn Massa eight points and place him equal with the McLaren driver, but ahead on second places earned.
In reality, the only way I can see Hamilton failing to score is either a silly move at the start, similar to what happened in Japan this year and also in Brazil last season. Either that or poor weather conditions could upset any strategy and push the favour towards Ferrari. Both teams have made mistakes this year with tyre choices and pitstop calls, and Ferrari have spectacularly messed up a few actual pitstops themselves. But in reality, either team could mess it up under unusual circumstances.
Further down the tables there is a good battle for third, although Robert Kubica looks relatively safe as long as he can get a points finish to counter any strong result Kimi Raikkonen pulls out of the bag. And Raikkonen will only get a strong result if Massa retires or is too far behind. Fernando Alonso and Heikki Kovalainen are just 2 points apart in sixth and seventh. Alonso is on a charge at the moment, having been reinvigorated after his two wins. However, McLaren will desperately want Kovalainen near the front to help control the race should anything happen to Hamilton.
Sebastian Vettel and Jarno Trulli are equal on 30 points each. Vettel has the upper hand having won a race this year, but Toyota and STR are fairly equal on pace at the moment, battling each other for Q3 and during the opening laps of races. Eighth place in the championship will be well-fought by these two drivers.
Timo Glock, Mark Webber and Nelson Piquet Jr rest on 21, 19 and 17 points respectively, so neither can sit back and relax before the season is over. Similarly, Kazuki Nakajima and David Coulthard are both able to collect a couple of points, and being separated by just 1 point in fifteenth and sixteenth, there could be a change in position at the bottom of the table as well.
The constructors is less close, with Ferrari 11 points ahead of McLaren. Although the maximum possible earnings from a race is 18, to recover 11 in one event is very difficult. BMW are just 10 points behind McLaren, but again, reclaiming the lost ground doesn’t look hopeful. Renault can neither catch nor be caught, so thanks to Alonso’s wins and Piquet’s slight improvement, the Enstone-based squad are confirmed in fourth. Toyota are in a similar position in fifth, but the battle between STR and Red Bull Racing is looking dangerously embarrassing. STR are ahead of the parent team, and Christian Horner’s squad need to find 6 points if they are overhaul the juniors. And let’s be honest, it’s unlikely.
The final battle is also unlikely to see any change, but it certainly isn’t impossible. Williams rest on 26 points, just 3 behind Red Bull. Should the Milton Keynes team have a disastrous weekend, and should Nico Rosberg find himself near the podium again, Red Bull could get demoted even further, adding to the disappointment of their 2008 season.
So there you have it. The drivers title is closer than the constructors, but there is room for manoeuvring. And that leaves me with just a couple of questions…[poll=”28″]
And will any other positions change in the overall standings, drivers or constructors? The comments are open and the voting forms available. Let’s hear what you have to say…