The maths behind the 2010 championship battle

With just one more race to go this year, Formula 1 is about to experience something historic, as this is the first time in history that 4 drivers have entered the last race with a chance of becoming World Champion. With this in mind, there are many ways that each of them can take the title.

With this in mind let’s have a look at each driver individually, starting with the underdog:

Lewis Hamilton

2 DNFs in Italy and Singapore have killed Hamilton’s title challenge, and he comes to Abu Dhabi with an extremely low chance of becoming champion. At the moment, he is 24 points adrift of Fernando Alonso.

His task is simple but very difficult: Take the win while Vettel, Alonso and Webber all finish out of the points. While the McLaren isn’t bad at Abu Dhabi, the likelihood of the other 3 drivers being taken out are slim to say the least.

My prediction: As likely as Nick Heidfeld shaving his beard.

Sebastian Vettel

The first of the Red Bull drivers is in with a better chance than Hamilton, but like the McLaren driver, will need a good performance and a stroke of bad luck to hit Webber and Alonso.

Although he is 15 points behind, a 3rd place (with Alonso scoring no points) will not be enough for Vettel, as Fernando has taken 5 wins already, more than any other driver this year. If Vettel finishes 2nd, he will need Alonso to finish 9th or lower, with Webber 5th or lower.

If Sebastian take the win, which is likely is he is on form, the Ferrari needs to be 6th or lower, while Webber will be knocked out automatically, seeing as even if he was 2nd and level on points, Sebastian would have taken one more win.

While the odds are against this Red Bull, the title is certainly not out of reach, though it will take some luck to push Alonso down the order.

My prediction: If he doesn’t win it, he will at least get very close.

Mark Webber

This Red Bull driver is within better striking range of the Ferrari, although Mark’s title hopes were hit slightly by failing to overtake his team-mate in Brazil. Nevertheless, Webber is in with a good shot.

If none of his rivals scored a point (although Hamilton can still win the race in this situation) Mark only needs 5th to take the title. If he gets 4th place, Alonso will need to be 9th or lower, with Vettel not taking the win. If he is in 3rd position, Alonso can be 7th or lower, and Vettel not to take the win.

If Webber takes 2nd place, Fernando has to be 6th or lower, while Sebastian again cannot take the race win (effectively 3rd or lower). Meanwhile, if Mark wins the race, Vettel is taken out no matter where he finishes, while Fernando would have to be 3rd or lower in order for Webber to take the title.

There are many more possibilities as you can see, and it demonstrates why Webber needs to be pushing as hard as he can coming into this final race.

My prediction: A good chance, although he may find trouble keeping Vettel (and Alonso) behind him.

Fernando Alonso

Fernando comes into this race with the title lead, and 8 points to spare against his rivals. He may have the point margin, but his Ferrari will probably be slower than the Red Bull this weekend, so he needs to be very careful.

If he takes either the win or 2nd place, then the championship is his, no questions asked. However, seeing as the Red Bulls are probably going to be on form in Abu Dhabi, this is unlikely, so now the fun begins. If he takes 3rd place, Webber would need to take the race win, and Sebastian Vettel would be knocked out.

If he is 4th, Webber will again need to take the win, and Vettel would still be out of the running.

However, if the Ferrari is 5th, Webber yet again needs to win, and the same goes for Vettel. However, you might notice a small problem there. If Vettel were to win, and Alonso was 5th, then they would be equal on points. FIA rules regulate that the winner would be the driver with the most 2nd place finishes, and both Alonso and Vettel have the same amount. The rule would then move to 3rd place finishes, and -surprise surprise – they have the same amount again! However, Sebastian has two 4th places to Fernando’s one, so this would most certainly be an interesting end to the championship to say the least.

If Alonso is 6th, Webber will need 2nd place, and Vettel would need to win the race. If Fernando was 7th, Mark would have to be on the podium, and Sebastian again requiring the race victory. The exact same requirements for the Red Bulls are needed if the Ferrari is 8th.

In the event of Alonso being 9th, Webber needs 4th, and Vettel needs 2nd or 1st. If Fernando is 10th, Mark would need 5th or higher, and Vettel again requires 1st or 2nd.

In the unlikely event of the Ferrari not taking any points at all, or retiring, Mark Webber would need 5th or higher, and Sebastian Vettel once again has to take 1st or 2nd. If Alonso was not to score, with Vettel 3rd and Webber 6th, then all 3 would be tied on points, but Alonso would take the title because of the “most wins” tiebreaker rule.

My prediction: Best mathematical chance, but needs to watch his back.

Round-up

As you can see, with a 4-way battle for the first time ever, the amount of mathematical possibilities are greater than ever before. With all of these chances of winning the title, we are in for an epic showdown in Abu Dhabi in just a few days time!

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2 responses to “The maths behind the 2010 championship battle

  1. pickle92 November 10, 2010 at 17:11

    Don’t write Hamilton off yet. Remember Brazil 2008?
    Wouldn’t it be great if we had a similar situation to Mexico ’64, when the championship was still anybodies with just a few laps to go?

  2. Pingback: How Alonso or Vettel can win the title this weekend « G-Force – A Formula 1 Blog

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