Abu Dhabi all set for Formula One battle

ABU DHABI — Fernando Alonso, Formula One’s very own Spanish matador, yearns to put Red Bull to the sword this weekend and become the sport’s youngest triple world champion.

By (Reuters)

Published: Thu 11 Nov 2010, 2:02 PM

Last updated: Mon 6 Apr 2015, 4:51 AM

Unless of course Sebastian Vettel, last year’s winner of the inaugural day-night Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, sees red and either tramples the Ferrari driver’s challenge or helps team mate Mark Webber do it instead.

Still only 23, but very much the cheeky-faced assassin, Germany’s Vettel can himself become the youngest man to take the title in an unprecedented and thrilling four-way end of season championship battle in Abu Dhabi.

Whether the youngster will be in a position to do so, in what could be the closest championship in 60 years of F1, depends on a plethora of permutations.

The three leading contenders could even end up on Sunday afternoon tied on 256 points, with Vettel winning a countback on the most fourth places.

“It is going to be a stressful weekend for all of us but this is Formula One and anything can happen,” said Alonso, who can end the season as he started it in Bahrain — with a win.

Alonso currently leads with 246 points to Webber’s 238 and 231 for Vettel, who led a Red Bull one-two in Brazil last Sunday to secure the Austrian-owned but British-based team a first constructors’ crown.

“I just need to finish second,” Alonso said. “It doesn’t matter who wins in Abu Dhabi if I finish second. With that, the problem is finished.”

Plain-talking Webber has his own plan and is ready to complete his transformation from perceived journeyman to popular champion and end Australia’s 30 year wait for a third world beater to join Jack Brabham and Alan Jones.

McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton, 24 points off Alonso and needing a miracle to regain his lost 2008 crown, could yet defy the bookmakers’ 100-1 odds against him with the upset to end all upsets in front of a sell-out crowd.

“I’ve still a shot at it, so I will try and win,” he told reporters. “They’ve lots more to lose than I have, so I won’t be looking out for them, letting them past or anything like that.”

Which of the four will emerge triumphant after a rollercoaster ride to match anything on offer in the newly-opened Ferrari World theme park next to the Yas Marina circuit, is anybody’s guess.

The Fat Lady, as Webber put it, is getting into position and about to clear her throat.

Controversy, in a sport whose history is as chequered as the final flag that waves through the winner, is sure to join her on the stage. Vettel may help Webber if he cannot win the title himself but the team will not be issuing any orders from the pitwall, unlike Ferrari.

“To interfere with the drivers was never a possibility for us,” Red Bull owner Dietrich Mateschitz said this week. “A second place under correct circumstances might be better than a win on grounds of orders and confirmations.”

If Alonso wins by fewer than the seven points he gained when Brazilian team mate Felipe Massa was ordered by Ferrari to let him win at Hockenheim in July, then there will be those who say his title is tainted.

“Fernando is an exceptional driver. Some will be disappointed with what happened at Hockenheim and question whether he deserves it. I just hope he wins it by more than seven points,” outgoing champion Jenson Button said at the weekend.

If Red Bull’s duo open the door for Alonso to claim the championship, there will also be questions asked about how the most dominant team on the starting grid managed to squander their advantage.

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