Joe Barron is a Freelance Writer and an avid racing gamer. He has written sim & wheel reviews for GameSpot.com, CItizenGame.co.uk and HookedGamers.com. He's also a massive Ferrari fan!
It's been a dramatic few weeks for Ferrari in Formula One. Two shocking DNFs for Fernando
After such an incredible run of results, it was always likely that Fernando's luck would run out and he came into the Abu Dhabi race 13 points behind the in-form Vettel. Not only that, but wind tunnel faults resulted in some almost useless upgrades to the Ferrari. The Scuderia have a mountain to climb if Alonso is to be World Champion.
Off the track, the build up to the championship run-in has been dominated by moves in the driver market. After months of speculation, Ferrari has decided to keep Felipe Massa at Maranello for another year, resigning the Brazilian for 2013. Felipe's form has improved considerably in recent races, enough to convince the team that continuity with their drivers is the best option for next year.
The Massa announcement came amid massive speculation and rumour, suggesting that Ferrari has signed Vettel to join Alonso in 2014. Both Sebastian and Red Bull have denied this, however. The feeling in the F1 paddock seems to be that Massa was re-signed to cover the one year gap before Vettel joins the Scuderia. That would make sense, rather than moving someone from another team for just 12 months. At one stage, Perez, Hulkenburg and Di Resta were all rumoured to be taking Massa's place, but a one year deal would not have suited any of these drivers. In the end, keeping Felipe is probably the correct decision.
Will Vettel partner Alonso in 2014, then? Given Fernando's history with high profile teammates
Fernando is always at his best when he is leading a team and in control. However, I do think Vettel will join Ferrari at some stage during his career. Sebastian is deeply driven by his desire to follow in Schumacher's footsteps. The history of Ferrari will one day prove too attractive for him to stay at Red Bull, but I don't think he is at that point in his career just yet. He may end up replacing Alonso one day, rather than partnering with him.
introduced in 2009. However, the Prancing Horse was given a lifeline during qualifying for this year's race.
After Alonso struggled to only P7, Vettel was relegated to the back of the grid after he stopped on the circuit at the end of Q3. The Red Bull was found to have less than the required 1 litre of fuel on board – this is needed for the FIA fuel sampling process. This bumped Alonso up to P6 and gave him an amazing chance to close the 13 point gap in the title race.
An incredible first lap, including a daring pass on Mark Webber, put Alonso into 4th. He remained there for some time until passing Maldonado for third as the drivers neared the first stops.
Meanwhile, championship rival Vettel was clawing his way up through the pack, despite having to make an unscheduled stop for a nose change after smashing through a polystyrene marker board while trying to avoid colliding with Ricciardo during a Safety Car period.
After Fernando's only pit-stop, he emerged behind Vettel, with the leaders realising that the Red Bull driver had changed tyres during his front wing change, meaning he could go to the finish without stopping again. This theory was quickly proved false, though, as he stopped just a few laps later. Alonso then had to push very hard to keep Button behind, while chasing down race leader, Raikkonen, after another Safety Car. Alonso appeared to be closing enough to have a chance of victory on the final lap, but his tyres sadly dropped off at the crucial moment. Vettel passed Button for third in the dying moments.
On the podium, Fernando seemed ecstatic to have closed the championship gap to Vettel from 13 points to 10. In my opinion, he was probably a little too pleased. He only finished one place ahead of his rival, despite starting 18 places ahead of him and taking one less pit-stop.
This pace does not bode well for the final two races in the USA and Brazil. The fast and flowing layout of the Austin circuit is likely to suit Red Bull, so Fernando is going to have to work incredibly hard to stand any chance of taking the title.
During post-race interviews, Alonso admitted his struggles during Abu Dhabi. "We were not super-competitive this weekend. We had to fight the whole race. There was good overtaking and good strategy, which gave us the possibility to fight for the win.Second was the maximum achievable today starting sixth, but Sunday was better and we will keep fighting until the end."
"We were concentrating on our race," he added. "All our simulations had given us the possibility to finish fifth or sixth, so we were not very optimistic with today's race and whatever Seb was doing we were taking 10 or eight points maximum.
"So we concentrated on our race and he did a very good race and he was able to use the performance in some parts of the race in clean air, plus two safety cars to help him," he said, referring to Vettel. "There is nothing we can do but concentrate on our race and if we finish ahead of Seb in the next two races then maybe we have a chance."
In a straight fight, the Ferrari is no match for the Red Bull at this crucial stage in the season. I
Of course, this has been one of the craziest seasons in F1 history and there will certainly be plenty of drama between now and the chequered flag at Interlagos. Ferrari will need
some very good fortune to give Alonso the championship his driving so greatly deserves, but the 2012 F1 season is not over yet!