Brazilian GP: McLaren preview
As one of the most dramatic, tense and exciting Formula 1 seasons for many years draws to a close, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team arrives in Sao Paulo for the Championship-deciding Brazilian Grand Prix.
After 16 gripping races across 16 countries and five continents Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen will compete for the sports most prestigious accolade, to be crowned 2007 Formula 1 Drivers' World Champion, over 71 laps of the twisting and bumpy 4.309km Interlagos circuit.
Lewis is travelling to Interlagos with 107 points. His Vodafone McLaren Mercedes teammate Fernando is four points behind on a total of 103, with Kimi in third position with 100. With a difference of seven points covering the top three, we have outlined the various scenarios that could take place in Sao Paulo next weekend.
How Fernando can become Champion:
Should Fernando win the race, he would need for Lewis to be on the bottom step of the podium or lower to take the title.
If Fernando is in second position after the 71 laps, Lewis would have to be in sixth position or lower.
If Fernando takes third, he would need to Lewis to only secure one point and for Kimi not to win.
If Fernando is fourth, Lewis would have to not score any points, with Kimi also not on the top two steps of the podium.
How Lewis can become Champion:
Lewis takes either of the top two steps on the Interlagos podium, no matter where Fernando and Kimi finish.
If Fernando wins the race, Lewis has to take second place behind his Vodafone McLaren Mercedes teammate.
If Fernando comes second, Lewis would need to take the checkered flag in third or fourth position.
If Lewis is in fifth position, he would need for Fernando to finish out of the top two. It does not matter where Kimi ends the race.
If Lewis finishes sixth or seventh, he would need for Fernando to finish out of the top two and for Kimi not to win.
If Lewis finishes in the final points paying position of eighth, the only way he can take the title is for Fernando to finish out of the top three and for Kimi to finish out of the top two.
Should Lewis retire from the race or score no points, then he would need for Fernando to finish in fifth or below and for Kimi to be in third or below.
How Kimi can become Champion:
Kimi would need to win the race, with Fernando and Lewis finishing out of the top two and five respectively.
If Kimi takes second position, then he would need Lewis to only take one point and for Fernando to be out of the top three.
"Interlagos has a lot of great memories for me, having won both of my two World Championships at the circuit. They were both quite different races, but that is a characteristic of the track. It is very bumpy, you have to have suspension that allows you to drive hard whilst not being too uncomfortable. There are some great corners that you really get to attack, and all the elevation changes make it interesting for the drivers."
"I am sure we are going to Brazil with full equality across the team and two cars capable of fighting for victory in the race and the Championship. Although I am now only four points away from Lewis, I still need for there to be a lot of circumstances in my favor for me to win the Drivers' title that are out of my control, but for sure I will be doing everything that is under my control to make it happen. I have to do my bit and then hope everything else falls into place."
"China was another valuable lesson for me this season, and an incident I will take from and try to develop as a driver. I moved on from the disappointment pretty quickly and since leaving Shanghai, my sole focus has been on Brazil. Interlagos is one of those circuits that everybody talks about. I understand it has a fantastic atmosphere, the fans are crazy for the sport, and the track lends itself to great racing."
"It is another new circuit for me, and there has been a lot of talk by other people about how it is tricky to drive. That's why I see it as a special challenge and when I arrive at the track on Wednesday I will study it hard with my engineers and start to get an understanding of it. I've had some great races with the team this year, and I hope to have another one in Interlagos. Whilst I might be ahead by four points, this Championship is still very open. I will do what I can to score the points I need, and the rest is out of our hands."
Martin Whitmarsh, CEO Formula 1, Vodafone McLaren Mercedes:
"The Brazilian Grand Prix is an appropriate cliff-hanger of a race for what has been an extraordinary Formula 1 season. Following Fernando's strong second position in the difficult weather conditions in China, the Vodafone McLaren Mercedes team has both Lewis and Fernando still challenging for the 2007 World Championship."
"There have been well publicized suggestions of there not being equality for both Fernando and Lewis. However we can categorically state that they will be given the exact same opportunity to win the race and the Championship. Both drivers have held these positions for the majority of the year, and every single member of the team is pushing hard for the victor to be one of our two drivers."
"For all three championship contenders, and our nerves, we hope to have a race without any weather complications, given the unpredictability of the region, accidents or incidents. It is a fantastic end to the season, and we hope to have a fantastic race for the fans."
Norbert Haug, Vice President Mercedes-Benz Motorsport:
"12 years ago at Interlagos we started our first Formula 1 race with our partner McLaren. Because this is obviously currently an issue for some, I would like to point out that since then all our drivers have had the same preconditions, technical and support wise, and this will not be any different in the 2007 season finale."
"The surface at Interlagos offers good grip but it is often pretty bumpy. Regarding the set-up the team has to find a good balance for the car, so that it handles well over those bumps, particularly under braking. Two years ago we achieved a 1-2 victory here and have won here a total of four times since the beginning of our partnership. Hopefully this a good omen for this final race."
"The Brazilian Grand Prix will be the end of a great Formula 1 season, which brought the most extreme challenges for the team, who replied with optimum performances. I cordially thank every single team member for this. We have already clinched this important victory over all influences from outside the team and we will work in the final race as focused as before to achieve the Word Championship title with one of our drivers taking first and with the other one hopefully as runner-up in the overall ranking."
"After the final checkered flag the points table ideally should look like it did for the last six months - either Lewis ahead of Fernando or Fernando ahead of Lewis, after a tough and fair fight on and not off the track." McLaren PR