The F1 season reaches its climax in three weeks and while there are still five men in with a shout of scooping the big prize, it looks like the McLaren duo of Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button have been left with too much to do. McLaren won't give up until it's mathematically impossible to win the world title but it looks to be a straight fight between the Red Bulls of Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber for the Drivers' Championship, with Fernando Alonso in the Ferrari ready to capitalise on any infighting from the blue cars.
A good Korea move?
This weekend the teams ship back East for the debut race in Korea. Up until last weekend there was some doubt as to whether this event would even take place, given the circuit's apparent lack of readiness. Nonetheless the track was given the green light and, while that gives the McLaren duo an opportunity to stay in the hunt, if they fail to take a significant number off points off Webber, realistically their title chances are shot.
No-one has run on the circuit in a 2010-spec F1 car but, given the strength of the Red Bull, it's hard to see anything other than pole position and a win for either Vettel or Webber. I'm going for Vettel to continue heaping pressure on his teammate - he won in dominant style in Japan and right now there's no reason why that shouldn't be the case in Korea.
Brazil or bust
Interlagos was the scene of Button's title triumph last season after a mesmeric drive through the field from a lowly 14th place on the grid. This season's champion could also be crowned at the Sao Paolo circuit but I see it as a Ferrari track and am tipping Fernando Alonso to keep the dream alive here.
Built on reclaimed marshland, the track is bumpy and short, two traits which do not favour the Red Bull. Yes, they won in style with Webber last season, but Brawn had dropped the ball and were limping over the line, while Ferrari and McLaren had all but given up on the season after less than stellar campaigns. Webber's closest challenger in 2009 was Robert Kubica and the Pole is a good outside bet to get amongst the championship contenders on the podium.
All over in Abu Dhabi
The season finale sees the F1 circus back in Abu Dhabi at the Yas Marina circuit for a race which starts in the daylight and finishes under lights. A fast circuit which ought to play into the hands of Red Bull, its proliferation of tight, slow corners may also bring the driveable Ferrari into play. McLaren might be a contender but I suspect their drivers will be out of the championship picture with the team switching all their focus onto the 2011 car. If that happens, the pace of development in F1 is such that it'll be a straight fight for glory between Alonso, Vettel and Webber.
So, who's going to win the big prize? Alonso has brought himself back into contention with a series of wins and strong performances, while the Red Bull duo have come on strong after learning to harness the awesome pace of the RB6. Webber has a 14 point lead and can't afford to follow Vettel home at each race, but as we saw in Singapore with the Hamilton crash, Webber's not afraid to put it all on the line and see where the dice fall. That willingness to gamble, allied with the luck of the draw, should see him crowned champion this year.
By James Frankland
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