a hard fought season, but that evaporated in smoke along with Michael
Schumacher's engine. When the circus moved to Brazil, Alonso's title was
a formality. That did not stop Michael Schumacher from producing one of
his virtuoso performances for which he is well known for.
This year, there was no such expectation. Lewis Hamilton came into the
Chinese grand prix with a 10/17 point lead over Alonso/Kimi, expecting
to wrap things up over the weekend. He did his chances no harm by
bagging pole (albeit, as we found out later, with a much lighter car)
and built up a 9 second lead in the first stint. At that time, I thought
it was just a formality, as even if Kimi caught him, he was well ahead
of the rest of the pack and would finish 4th at worst. It all started to
go wrong after the first pit stop as the advertised rain never came down
hard enough and the track started drying up. The front runners who did
not change their tyres after the first stop started going slower and
slower and lost upto 12 seconds a lap to those who took the gamble of
going on to dry tyres. Lewis was the worst hit as he had pushed a lot in
the opening stages and his tyres were in bad shape. Kimi caught and
overtook him easily (I think, as the power went off just when this
happened) and Fernando started catching him at 6-7 seconds a lap.
Instead of bringing him in, Mclaren asked him to stay out for another
lap and by the time they came to the long back straight, Fernando was
right on his rear. Lewis kept him off and headed into the pits but went
in too fast and instead of making the right turn onto the pit lane, got
stuck in the gravel trap and that was the end of his race.
Kimi won and Fernando came 2nd and in doing so, cut Lewis's lead down to
7 and 4 points. This leaves us with a mouthwatering possibility of any
of the three being crowned champions.
Kimi needs to win and hope Fernando finishes 3rd or lower and Lewis
finishes 6th or lower to become champion. If not, he needs to finish
second and hope that Lewis finishes 8th or lower AND Fernando is 4th or
lower. IMO, this is a very slim chance as even if Ferrari are
comfortably faster and Massa covers his rear, Mclaren should be ahead of
Fernando needs to score 4 points more than Lewis. If he wins, Lewis must
be lower than 4th, if he's second, Lewis must finish 5th or lower. If
he's third, Lewis must finish 7th or lower and if he's 4th, Lewis must
finish 8th or lower for him to be champion. If he finishes 5th or lower,
he is out of the championship.
Lewis is in the best position as he doesn't need to go all out for the
win. However, one could turn that on its head and say that he has the
most pressure as it is all his to lose. In fact, Kimi and Fernando
started their mind games right at the post race press conference by
setting the expectations very low for themselves and putting all the
pressure on Lewis.
It promises to be very exciting weekend in Brazil. I wish the next two
weeks goes off very very quickly.