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I heard a rumour the other day that Ferrari have a big update planned for Suzuka: yeah, it's a sweat resistant steering wheel cover for Alonso, to compensate for how much he has been rubbing his hands together with glee recently.
Martin Brundle and David Croft alluded to his 'bag of magic dust' in Singapore and they were on the money. It just keeps getting better for him at the moment. Another weekend off the pace but another podium, gracias. McLaren gearbox gremlins, thanks very much. Red Bull alternator failures, yes please. Distraction for the others with silly-season shenanigans, don't mind if I do.
What's the story then as we prepare for the last six? Can anyone beat Alonso? What is my armchair expert opinion on the driver market shake up and what is the next surprise?
First, the championship. So, Kimi still has a shot, but it is getting longer, unless this 'device' can propel him to the front and somehow help the Red Bulls and McLarens finish the race (in front of red 5) too. Hmm.
Can Hamilton still do it? He got a little bit of luck this week in the form of a five-place penalty for Jenson, who proved himself pretty useful around Suzuka last year. I think that is one less headache for McLaren. If recent performance is anything to go by (famous last words in this crazy season) that will probably put Jenson near Alonso on the grid too, with increased chances of hindrance and squabbling.
It still seems like a big ask. Look at Hamilton's form for his last 5 finishes: It is an average of 3.2 - roughly third place. If he were to continue that form, with no retirements to the end of the season he'd gain another 90 points. Supposing he did that, Alonso would still only need another 7.5 points per race. That's sixth place on average for the last six races. Bear in mind that his form over the last 5 finishes is 2.8 - also roughly third place - it seems do-able.
It looks a lot like somebody is going to be a triple world champion then doesn't it? If Vettel were to continue his form from the last 5 (also averaging third place), Alonso would need to do a little bit better and finish fifth on average at every race. But that still seems well within his grasp.
Bear in mind that the Ferrari has proven the best suited of the big three when it rains. And I'd be surprised if we get through Japan, Korea and Brazil without the odd drop of rain. No, for me, it's still in the magic bag for the Spaniard - and good on him.
It's possible that he will end up winning the championship without being the driver with most wins in the season. Looks like the fancy scoring system that has rendered all records as good as useless is doing the trick then, as it was intended to get drivers to race for victories!
Champions have been tied on victories before: Vettel and Alonso both won 5 in 2010. And in both 2005 and 2006, Alonso's championship years, he was tied on 7 wins with Kimi and Schumacher respectively.
Hamilton won it in 2008 with one less victory (5) than Massa (6). But Hamilton's Belgian Grand Prix victory was handed to Massa in one of the most ridiculous stewards decisions ever, comparable to a football ref going, 'I prefer Man United to Arsenal, so I'll just disallow that goal for Walcott and award two to Anderson'. So really it was 6:5 to Hamilton - I'm not counting 2008.
You have to go all the way back to 1989 to find a champion with less wins than the second place man. On that occasion Prost was champion with 4 wins and 6 second places. Senna racked up 6 wins but had 6 retirements and a disqualification.
If Alonso wins the championship without winning another race which, by the way, I am saying is a possibility not a certainty, he would win the championship with the lowest percentage of wins (19%) since Keke Rosberg became champion with just one win in 82 (6%). He would be the first man since Piquet to win the championship with just three wins. Piquet did that twice: in 83 and 87.
Anyway, that's enough pointless facts. If he wins it he'll deserve it because he has been awesome for most of this year and the others have all been a shambles at some point or another.
So that is 2012 dealt with, onto 2013. There was a revelation in the F1 world last week and I for one will admit that I was completely taken by surprise. Eddie Jordan, was completely right about something.
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