SAO PAULO — The Brazilian Grand Prix will do more than crown a Formula One champion on Sunday.
Sebastian Vettel or Fernando Alonso will be lifting the drivers’ championship trophy when the season-ending race is over, but they won’t be the only ones attracting attention in Sao Paulo.
2008 champion Lewis Hamilton will be driving his last race for McLaren before moving to Mercedes in 2013 and seven-time champion Michael Schumacher is retiring again.
Vettel brings a 13-point lead into Brazil, meaning a fourth-place finish will be enough to give the 25-year-old Red Bull driver his third consecutive title. If that happens, Vettel will join Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as the only drivers to win three championships in a row.
If Vettel is fourth and Alonso wins the race at the Interlagos track, both drivers will finish with 285 points, but the German will secure the title because he has more wins than Alonso – five to three. Vettel has finished fourth or better in 13 of the 19 races so far, including the past six.
Alonso and Ferrari have not been able to match the recent success of Vettel, who earned four of his victories in the second half of the season, but the Spaniard has been consistent in the past races, finishing on the podium in six of the final seven events.
“We know it will be difficult for us, but we are confident,” Alonso said. “We must do our utmost, concentrating on ourselves and making no mistakes and then we can see what Vettel has done. It’s been a championship of highs and lows for everyone, but now we can only be perfect.”
Alonso, trying to add to his titles in 2005 and 2006, is hoping for a reversal of roles from the 2010 season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, when he was the one with a lead but came out empty-handed in the end.
Schumacher will be putting an end to his career again after three struggling years with Mercedes following his return from retirement. He is only 15th in the drivers’ championship this season.
Schumacher left F1 in 2006 after losing the title to Alonso at the finale in Interlagos.