Red Bull and Vettel praying rain and the Terminator take a back seat
If Alonso wants a reminder of what is possible he has only to go back two years, when Abu Dhabi staged the final race of the year. Then the position was reversed, with Vettel going to the Yas Marina circuit 15 points behind. Alonso needed only to come in the top four to win the title but Ferrari botched their stopping strategy and all but handed Vettel the title.
It is impossible to exaggerate the scar tissue that attached itself to the Maranello team after that result. Two years before that they had also been badly hurt. That was the time, at this circuit, when Lewis Hamilton won the title, overtaking Timo Glock to take fifth place on the last lap.
Things like that tend to happen at Interlagos. It was here, in 2007, that Kimi Raikkonen, the third favourite for the championship, sneaked in ahead of Hamilton and Alonso to win his one world title. In 2003, amid heavy rain and much confusion, Giancarlo Fisichella won here.
On Thursday Hamilton, making one of his last appearances as a McLaren driver, took us through his fondest memories of 15 years being with the team. But there was sadness too. He should have won more titles, he said, pointing to 2007, 2010 and this year.
Tomorrow a great sadness will fall on either Vettel or Alonso. For Vettel failure would be hard to take. But with unsettling memories of 2007 and 2010 defeat would barely be any easier for Alonso.
Hamilton quickest in Brazilian practice
Lewis Hamilton is the quickest driver in Formula One, even though he is not involved in tomorrow’s title race. The McLaren driver followed his thrilling victory in Texas a week ago by topping the timings in yesterday’s two practice sessions for the Brazilian Grand Prix.
He quickly showed his pace in the morning outing, beating the Red Bull pair of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber into second and third place, with his McLaren team-mate Jenson Button fourth and Fernando Alonso fifth.
Hamilton moved top of the table 15 minutes into the session, with a lap time of 1min 14.374sec. He then hit 1:14.131, which put him almost two seconds clear.
In the faster afternoon outing Hamilton improved to 1:14.026. Again he was trailed by Vettel and Webber, though this time the Red Bulls were followed by Felipe Massa, Alonso, Michael Schumacher, Nico Rosberg and Button.