We have grown accustomed to the driver’s title going down to the wire, the highlight of which was the titanic battle at Interlagos between Hamilton and Massa in 2008 where Hamilton clinched the title on the last corner of the last lap. Interestingly in the past 25 years, only on three occasions has the battle gone to the final race of the year with both drivers from the same team battling it out. 1986 saw Mansell and Rosberg in the hunt for the title for Williams, both lost out to Prost after Mansell’s spectacular retirement due to a puncture. We would have to wait until 2007 to see two team mates in the battle to the wire for the championship. The McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso were fighting with Ferrari’s Kimi Räikkönen for top honours, with Räikkönen beating the McLaren pair by a single point. 2010 again saw three drivers in with a shout at the final race in Abu Dhabi, Fernando Alonso, Mark Webber and the eventual winner, Sebastian Vettel.
Given the dominance of the Red Bull in the latter stages of last year and the pace of the RB7 this year, you would have been forgiven for thinking that we would be in for another season long battle. Here we are, with six races still to go and it’s possible for his team mate to wrap up his second title in Singapore. It’s staggering to think that Webber, who took the battle to Vettel and Alonso with such force last year has failed to put up any sort of a fight this year. Whether this is down to the way he’s harder on the new Pirelli tyres or that he’s submitted to being a number two driver (I believe neither), the fact is that he hasn’t won a race for over a year, in Hungary.
With Webber signing an extension with the Red Bull team for 2012, many see this as one last push for the title for the likeable Aussie. The fact of the matter is, if he wants to have a fighting chance of the championship next year, he has to start getting back on terms with Vettel and back to winning Grand Prix races. Since Webber’s last win, Vettel has racked up eleven and has only managed to finish ahead of him once, at the German Grand Prix. The psychological advantage this hands to Vettel is huge, one that can’t be overturned overnight. If Webber fails to win one of the six remaining races this year and push Vettel in the rest, I can’t see how he can go into 2012 with any serious chance of finally capturing the drivers title.