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F1 2010: Team Orders & Title Math

Vettel's win at Brazil this Sunday with Webber following him in a Red Bull 1-2 sealed the Constructors title for Red Bull by a decent margin. But the race to the drivers’ title is still open and set to go down to the wire at Abu Dhabi on the following Sunday. It is the first time in F1 history that four drivers carry title hopes into the final race.

Despite Red Bull having comfortably won as a team, the fact that it is Ferrari's Fernando Alonso who is leading the points table for the Driver's title while his team just stands third throws up a possibility of a repeat of the 2007 season. Three years ago, McLaren which treated its drivers equally saw the Alonso-Hamilton battle leading to Ferrari's Kimi Raikkonen seizing the title by a whisker.

Surely, the Scuderia is clear about the choice of driver to throw their weight behind. This time, they are doing it with Alonso; the disgusting team orders fiasco at Hockenheim is just the evidence. The pittance of a penalty on Ferrari is nothing more than a slap on the wrist by the FIA. What a shame!

If Alonso wins this year's title, with a margin less than 7 points, Red Bull would turn out to be sore losers for having followed the rule book to the tee leaving them licking their wounds while rivals Ferrari & Alonso celebrate their title. But, Alonso’s possible third title can get him in the league of all time greats, albeit on a crutch!

Hockenheim must have had a dampening effect on Massa who, after recovering from the near fatal crash at the Hungaroring last year returned to the grid with resilience. Had he won, both Alonso & Massa would have had a win apiece. Some inspired racing from Massa following the win would have altered the course of the 2010 title chase!

With reigning Champion Button out of mathematical contention after Brazil, this leaves 4 drivers in the running with one last race at Abu Dhabi left. Alonso leads with 246 with Webber & Vettel at 238 & 231 followed by Hamilton lagging at 222. With Hamilton 24 points behind, this is practically a three horse race as of now!

So, how does the math work out for the title contenders?

For Alonso, (i) a win at the Abu Dhabi GP or (ii) a 2nd despite Webber winning can seal the deal. The more complex ones arise when he (iii) finishes 3rd or 4h with Webber 2nd or worse even if Vettel wins; (iv) finishes 5th with either Red Bull drivers not winning; (v) finishes 6th with Webber 3rd or worse & Vettel 2nd or worse; (vi) comes 7th or 8th with Webber 4th or worse & Vettel 2nd or worse; (vii) ninth with Webber 5th or worse & Vettel 3rd or worse (viii) tenth with Webber 6th or worse, Vettel 3rd or worse, despite Hamilton winning and lastly (ix) doesn't score a point with Webber 6th or worse, Vettel 3rd or worse and Hamilton not winning.

Webber, can have a shot at reaching his career peak if he (i) wins the race and Alonso is 3rd or worse; (ii) second with Alonso 6th or below & Vettel doesn't win; (iii) third with Alonso 7th or below & Vettel doesn't win; or (iii) fourth with Alonso 9th or worse and Vettel doesn't win and if he (iv) comes 5th and Alonso ninth or out of points finish.

Vettel can clinch the title and be the only the second German driver to win a Formula 1 title if he (i) wins the race with Webber 2nd or worse & Alonso is 5th or worse; or (ii) comes 2nd with Webber 5th or below & Alonso 9th or worse.

Hamilton only has an outside chance as the only way he can win his second title is when he wins with Alonso scoring a naught at Abu Dhabi and Webber finishing 6th or worse and Vettel ending up 3rd or worse.

A glance at the possible outcomes seems as if the odds are in favor of Fernando Alonso. But, one can never predict technical shenanigans or other racing incidents that may spring a surprise. Let just hope that the best of them wins!

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