Five other championship battles to watch

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The drivers’ championship battle is thrillingly close at the moment. But there’s plenty more going on in the championship as the season heads into its final stages.

Will Michael Schumacher finish outside of the top ten on his F1 return?

Who will be top rookie? And will Virgin’s all-computer-designed car be beaten by HRT’s testing-free approach?

The constructors’ championship

Red Bull, McLaren, Ferrari

1. Red Bull 312
2. McLaren 304
3. Ferrari 238

Yes, it’s the “consolation prize”. But teams who place well overall gain useful benefits like preferential spots in the pit lane, greater travel benefits and the best car numbers for next year.

Red Bull snatched the lead of the constructors’ championship back from McLaren at the final round. But Ferrari are lagging behind after their troubles in the middle part of the season.

With the revised points system this year there is a maximum of 301 points to be won in the final seven races.

Best of the rest

Felipe Massa. Nico Rosberg and Robert Kubica

4. Mercedes 132
5. Renault 106

Mercedes have failed to keep pace with the front runners and instead find themselves fighting a rearguard action to keep Renault at bay.

This is reflected both in the constructors’ championship and the battle between Robert Kubica and Nico Rosberg in the drivers’ championship (see chart).

Rosberg’s podium finish at Silverstone moved him ahead but there’s only three points in it now. And while Mercedes struggle with the development of their W01 Renault have made impressive progress with their R30.

The Schumacher situation

Michael Schumacher, Adrian Sutil, Rubens Barrichello

9. Michael Schumacher 38
10. Adrian Sutil 35
11. Rubens Barrichello 30

At this rate it’s looking possible Michael Schumacher could finish outside the top ten in the drivers’ championship on his return to Formula 1.

He’s currently ninth, eight points ahead of 11th-placed Rubens Barrichello. Perhaps Schumacher had the championship situation in the back of his mind when he came perilously close to crashing into Barrichello in the last race.

Adrian Sutil will also fancy the bragging rights for finishing ahead of his famed countryman in an identically-engined car. Sutil’s excellent pass on Schumacher at Silverstone brought him within a point of his rival.

Top rookie

Vitaly Petrov, Kamui Kobayashi, Nico Hulkenberg, Jaime Alguersuari

12. Vitaly Petrov 17
13. Kamui Kobayashi 17
(14. Vitantonio Liuzzi 12)
15. Nico Hulkenberg 10

The championship situation for the rookies (in this case, drivers who had completed less than a full season before this year) is finely poised. Kamui Kobayashi and Vitaly Petrov are level-pegging, and Nico Hulkenberg is not far behind.

Petrov has the best car and should be the best bet over the closing half of the season. But points are easily lost in the midfield and his closest rivals will punish any slip-ups.

The new teams

13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21
Lotus 1 2 3 2 4 0 0 0 1
HRT 0 2 1 2 2 2 3 3 0
Virgin 0 1 0 1 1 5 4 0 0

Not having scored any points, the three new teams are separated according to who’s scored the best results. Lotus lead the way with a single 13th place.

Virgin are just seven races away from ending their first season last, behind a team that did no pre-season testing at all. On pure pace they’re not far off Lotus and much better than HRT, but their finishing record has been poor.

This championship battle will be strongly affected by how well the other 18 cars finish the remaining races. A spate of unreliability or a first-lap crash could allow any of the new teams to grab a one-off high results – possibly even a point – that could decide the championship for them.

Who do you think will win these five championship battles? Have your say in the comments.

Read more: How close is the 2010 F1 championship? Top five covered by just eight points*

Image (C) Mercedes

Author information

Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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74 comments on “Five other championship battles to watch”

  1. Great article Kieth, my thoughts are:
    Constructers: Mclaren
    best of the rest: Mercedes
    Schumacher: 9th place on the standings
    Top rookie: Petrov
    New teams: Lotus

    1. miguelF1O (@)
      13th August 2010, 11:41

      schumi 9th
      top rookie Kobayashi

      1. This brings up a question in my mind concerning Kobayashi and Petrov… anyone know how they break that sort of tie at the end of the season? For race winners the more race wins the higher the standing, as has been the case twice so far this year going into Turkey and going into Hungary where the two Red Bulls were tied in points, but Webber was on top technically for more race wins in both cases. But for drivers that haven’t won any races such as Petrov and Kobayashi how is this tie broken? Is it the highest placing finish? That would put Petrov ahead so far with his 5th in Hungary right?

        1. I think it is like you say, according to highest finishing during the season.

          1. Yeah, same way as Lotus are beating HRT and Virgin.

  2. “Perhaps Schumacher had the championship situation in the back of his mind when he came perilously close to crashing into Barrichello in the last race.”

    You don’t forget a chance.

    1. What do you mean?

      1. i’m just as confused keith…

      2. He probably meant that you bring this (Schumachers move) up again whenever you see a chance to do so.

        1. Which is fair enough considering it was between the two drivers involved, it was recent, and it’s turned into a major point of friction between not only those two but many others in the paddock as well.

          It’s just like if you were talking about whether Massa can get a win, you would obviously mention Hock and that it makes his chances less likely.

    2. Not sure what Keith thinks, but I think Schumacher knows where he stands and sees that it is clearly possible that he will finish just behind Barrichello in the final standings. Barrichello is in Schumacher’s head prompting some desperate moves.

    3. @SCHUMI, Yes I can see where your train of thought was going.I hope Michael comes back from where he is now,as he seemed to be gaining after Turkey with a few heads watching his progress,but it has been downhill from there.
      It seems like the whole of GB commentators,blogs,websites have been against him with their vitriolic and downright personal remarks ~~Jackie Stewart has behaved very badly,I would have expected more from him… Coulthard is the same,even thowing up how Michael threatened him,but in the process forgetting his own very bad driving,like slamminmg his brakes on in a monsoon in front of Michael.

      This is a case of knowing who your REAL friends are in F1.I hope sincerely that MSC comes back fighting,but if he decides to throw in the towel who can blame him.I feel thoroughly ashamed sometimes of British Behaviour in Sport..

      1. we probably have giving him a hard time Dianna, myself included, i never liked the guy right from the start, so i have an excuse, but the media should show a little more respect, especially the commentators, they definitely have been picking on him ever since he returned. even his 4th place was not recognized as such as it should have been.

        1. @eric.Well Gerhard Berger has come out in defence of Michael on ESPN F1,as he explained >
          “Racing was tougher in my day,we drove harder and more brutally -and nobody would have complained about Schumachers move on Barrichello..The drivers then were uncompromisingly hard,like Senna,Mansell,Prost,Piquet and Schumacher.Three times a lap we drove drivers into the walls without complaining” etc.etc..
          In saying this obviously the drivers now are what >more timid??”

          1. Well it seems Berger has disqualified himself from serving as a driver-advisor to the stewards in a future race. His reminiscence about the supposedly brass-knuckled olden days of F1 is absurd and ahistorical. Drivers were not chopping and shoving each other around, not in those flimsy aluminum monocoque cars with those sorry little clothes-hangers that once served as roll-bars. If Berger wants F1 to be a blood-sport (again) he is not in good company.

      2. Do you feel the same about the British media’s treatment of Alonso? I certainly do.

        1. YES!
          Mention Alonso and someone always bites back at you.

          1. Try posting something neutral (not even negative) about Hamilton on the BBC website, you’ll get jumped on even faster.

  3. WDC : Alonso
    WCC : Red Bull
    best of the rest: Mercedes
    Schumacher: 11th place on the standings
    Top rookie: Petrov
    New teams: Lotus

    1. WDC : Vettel
      WCC : RedBull
      BoR : Renault
      MSC : 11th
      TR : Petrov
      NT : Lotus

  4. WDC : Webber
    WCC : Red Bull
    Schumacher : 9th Place
    Top Rookie : Petrov
    New Teams : Lotus

  5. Constructers: Red Bull
    best of the rest: Mercedes (just)
    Schumacher: 11th place in the standings
    Top rookie: Petrov
    New teams: Lotus

    I’m not predicting WDC because its too tight at the moment! I think it could be any one of Hamilton, Webber, Vettel or Alonso.

  6. Constructors: Red Bull
    Best Of The Rest: Renault
    Schumacher: 10th place in the standings (Sutil finish 9th, Barrichello 11th)
    Top Rookie : Petrov
    New Teams: Lotus 10th, Hispania 11th, Virgin 12th

    Drivers: 1st Alonso, 2nd Webber, 3rd Hamilton, 4th Vettel, 5th Button, 6th Massa, 7th Kubica, 8th Rosberg, 9th Sutil, 10th Schumacher.

  7. '93 Peugeot 905 Le Mans Winner
    13th August 2010, 10:52

    WDC : Alonso
    WCC : Red Bull
    Schumacher : 11th Place
    Top Rookie : Kobayashi
    New Teams : Lotus

    1. '93 Peugeot 905 Le Mans Winner
      13th August 2010, 10:53

      Best of the rest : Renault

  8. WDC: Vettel
    WCC: Red Bull
    BoR: Mercedes
    MSC: 10th
    Roo: Kobayashi
    New: Virgin

  9. Umm, the constructors’ title is the main prize. It’s the drivers’ title that’s the “consolation prize”. At least for any decent team, anyway.

    1. That’s not the popular view though, is it? The drivers championship started before the constructors’ and if I asked who was the F1 champion last year most people would say “Jenson Button” not “Brawn GP”.

      Eddie Irvine dubbed it the “consolation prize” in 1999.

      1. Prisoner Monkeys
        13th August 2010, 12:39

        And it’s the person who wins the WDC that gets the right to carry the number one, not the team that wins the WCC (unless they win both or secure the services of the regining World Champion).

        1. Yes, thats a big help. In case you are Fernando Alonso, that gives a team 6 tenths. If you are any other driver, that gives the team nothing but your driving skill. The additional money from becoming constructors champion, that is an actual value. Also in last years discussion about Brawns money issues, Bernie accidently confirmed that there is a substantial bonus attached to WCC.

          1. Yes, there is a bit more to the WCC than pit lane position and car numbers, they also get a BIG part of the FOM money. So basically it is WDC = glory, WCC = money

          2. Drive for show, putt for dough… same applies here I guess then.

      2. Mike "the bike" Schumacher
        13th August 2010, 13:44

        Yes, but for the team the constructors is the most important.
        If i was team boss or the car carried my name i would want to win the constructors first.

      3. But if you were to ask What car won the championship, the answer would be Brawn, so it is a matter of how the question is presented.

        1. Of course, but in that case you are specifically asking for the car.

          When you don’t mention if you are asking for driver or car 99/100* would think you meant the driver.

          * Of course this number is completely drawn out of my rear, but I’m sure that it is fairly close.

    2. That´s what Enzo Ferrari thought too, the drivers were driving to take the cars to the finish line first and not the cars to take the drivers to the finish line and therefore it was the team that truly mattered.

      1. Ferrari still hold that view, traditonally it makes them be very “pragmatical” in arranging the driver positions to make one of them have the better chances.

        1. Although their recent team orders (if that’s what you’re referring to) made absolutely no difference to the constructor’s championship. Points to the team would have been the same either way. So apparently Ferrari do place some value on the driver’s championship as well.

  10. Constructors: I think Red Bull will not make that much mistakes so they’ll take it.

    Best of the rest: My prediction is that Kubica will be slightly better than Rosberg for the rest of the year, but Schumacher will be at least equal to Petrov. The current gap is enough to keep Mercedes ahead.

    Schumacher: Sutil will go past him, but he will keep Barrichello behind despite improved form of Williams and the Brazilian.

    Rookie: Petrov has best car so he should take it.

    New teams: This depends a lot of the amount of retirements for established teams. I think the reliability of those is enough so the current order will stay.

    1. Although Renault will likely out-develop Mercedes the rest of the year as Mercedes cuts their losses and focuses on next year’s car, so there’s a chance of Renault overtaking Mercedes in the points although I think it’s a slim chance and you’re most likely correct.

  11. WDC : Mark Webber
    WCC : McLaren
    Schumacher : 9th Place
    Top Rookie : Kamui Kobayashi
    New Teams : Lotus

  12. WDC: WEBBER, through Champion drives
    -Spain/Monaco were Hakkinen type dominant drives,
    -Great Britain had Alonso style hanging your team out to dry on the first corner
    -Turkey, should’ve won for his street fighting abilities similar to Hamilton
    -Hungary was a very Schumacher-esc strategic sprint midrace
    WCC: MCLAREN, best team spirit
    BoR: Mercedes, more experience and resources than Renult
    MSC: 10TH, just to see Barrichello finish ahead of him
    Roo: Kobayashi, depending on Sauber’s development race
    New: Lotus by far

  13. WDC: Vettel – Webber will be close, but not close enough
    WCC: McLaren – as long as the RB twins take each other off a few times
    Best of the Rest: Renault – I’m hoping for dramatic moves from Kubica and Petrov
    Schuey: 11th at best – he’s in for a shock during the remaining races as all the drivers behind him realise he’s fair game and the 7 WCCs are just an urban myth
    Top Rookie: Petrov – hes out to prove it too. Why isn’t there a Rookie Championship to inspire the young blood?
    New Team: Lotus – I expect them in the points before the end of the season

    1. If Vettel wins and Webber is close, McLaren don’t have a prayer!

  14. WDC: I want to say Hamilton, but on current from, Webber seems the safest bet.
    WCC: McLaren – the RBR drivers will trip each other up and Massa will be told to get out of Alonso’s way too often.
    BoR: Renault. Schumacher’s going backwards and Petrov is improving.
    MSC: 10th behind Sutil, possibly behind Barrichello, too.
    RoY: Petrov
    New: Lotus. I wouldn’t bet against a race of high attrition or monumental first corner carnage handing a point to any of the new teams, though.

  15. Me and my mates have been playing a game we call “donkey pick” during this season.(…. that looks a bit rude now i come to think of it).

    the idea is to pick a slow reliable driver that will cross the line last, in one piece. Makes watching the back end of the race quite interesting. I think Di Grassi has the most last places so far. anyone know who has the most last places in F1 history

    1. That’s an interesting question Johnny! One name that comes to mind would be Luca Badoer, but I would have to look that up for you.

  16. Red Bull

  17. Champion :Hamilton, Constructors :Red Bull , Best of the rest :Mercedes : Schumi : 9th , Best rookie : Petrov ,
    Best new team: Lotus

  18. WDC:Webber
    Top Rookie:Petrov
    New Teams:Lotus

  19. Younger Hamilton
    13th August 2010, 15:46

    WDC:Dont Know
    Best of the Rest:Renault
    Best Rookie:Petrov
    Best New Team:Lotus

  20. WDC: Hamilton
    WCC: Red Bull
    4th WCC: Mercedes
    9th WDC: Schumacher
    Rookie: Petrov
    New Teams: Lotus

  21. HRT for the WCC, callin’ it now.

    1. Yes, as the rest of the teams will be disqualified for running excess downforce!

  22. Very interesting and hard to call. Great fun doing this during the brake!

    I would love Webber for WDC, but actually i think it might be Alonso or a McLaren driver (I am reluctant to count Button out, at this stage last year nobody was much convinced he would hang on to it).

    Red Bull should win the constructors championship, their car is clearly the best. Only if McLaren finds a lot of improvement and wins in Spa/Monza/AbuDhabi they can clinch it. Ferrari lost to much and has the disadvantage of Massa being quite a bit behind.

    Close call on Mercedes/Renault. I think in the end it will be Mercedes, as it is hard to believe they cannot find any form in the car.

    As Williams improves, i expect it to be close fought for 10th. But Schumi might still just make it in front of Barricello and Sutil

    Petrov will probably be the best rookie, but i expect Kobayashi to give him a fight for it and expect the Hülk to use the improved Williams to get more points as well.

    Best new team will probably be Lotus, even if Virgin improves a lot, it will be hard to get even on the 13th place, let alone a 12th or better.

  23. Quite interesting reading everyone’s comments here, seen many people backing Alonso, Webber, Hamilton, Vettel but nobody says Button.

    I’m no Button fan, but I have to say I thought he did a good job in China and Britain, but not great in the last two. As an Alonso fan I do think that he will win the championship, but Webber may be favourite.

    Anyway, great article Keith (as always)

    1. Unless JB finds 3 tenths, he will be 2nd at best; unless Hamilton relapses into his more mistake-prone habits.

      Alonso’s skills are fearsome but I don’t see him overcoming RBR and McLaren, not unless Massa is able to reliably keep other contenders to third place—one way or the the other way. And it don’t see that.

      This one is Webber’s to lose. If he cleans up his act he should take this one. Vettel has proven he is too green to go all the way. If a RBR driver does not win the title it will be a historic curiosity/fail—for such a dominant car to not get a driver on the top rung.

      Michael Schumacher. 10th, 14th, who knows. But the good thing for him is that no one will remember. Does anyone remember a champion’s failed comebacks? Do we remember Ali or Foreman for their late career collapes? Or those of Jordan or Montana? Nope. He’s done enough to erase in advance this season’s ignominy, but he should be careful not to make it too much of a horrorshow as his Hungary work proves is possible.

  24. It’s astonishing really that HRT are the most reliable finishers of the new teams. Until I saw your stats I would never of guessed that…. it reminds me of the comment I can’t remember by who, that all the cars are far more reliable now because they can’t mess about with them on the Saturday night anymore….. keep doing nothing HRT, it’s a good strategy so far!

  25. WCC: Red Bull
    BOTR: Renault
    The MSC situation: Sutil
    Rookie: Petrov
    New Teams: Lotus

  26. dyslexicbunny
    13th August 2010, 18:25

    WDC : Webber
    WCC : Red Bull
    Schumacher : 10th Place
    Top Rookie : Kobayashi
    New Teams : Lotus

  27. I can see any of the 5 contenders being champ really. However, the RB has two talented drivers and is ridiuclously quick so if they don’t walk away with both titles they’re morons :P I think Mclaren and Ferrari can still win but really, they have to rely on Red Bull failing. Ferrari should only really have a shot at the WDC.

    So far I’d say Webber or maybe Hamilton deserved the title. I’m mindful though that come the end end of the season they may have been nowhere while Seb could put in a stellar last 3rd to the season. So far though, my vote goes to Webber. I can see Fernando winning but I don’t know, something just seems to fit this year with Webber even if he’s been far from perfect on occassion.

  28. if RBR and Ferrari are forced to make changes to there front wing configuration it may give McLaren a chance otherwise they will not be in the hunt.
    Webber 1st will depend on Vettal stuffing it up.
    Alonso 2nd personally i hope not.
    Vettal 3rd ” ” .
    Hamilton 4th would love to see him at the front.
    Button 5th ” ” .
    so RDR will win the Manufacture
    Schumacher will likely stay 9th, although i would like to see him get passed.
    top rookie Petrov, hes still learning.
    New Teams: Lotus they have done well.

    1. i certainly forgot about Schumacher’s penalty for the next race so im going to put him down a peg or two.

  29. Matt G (lotus fan)
    13th August 2010, 23:04

    WDC: Webber, it’s a tough call between the top drivers so I decided to go with the person I would like to see win the title although all the drivers this season have made mistakes.

    WCC: Red Bull, anouther hard call because we havn’t seen how the change to the front wing will effect them, also some low downforce cicuits like Monza comming up will help Mclaren. However I decided that their advatage is so large that they really should convert more poles into wins.

    10th place battle: Schu’, Hard to call as a good result can have a large impact here but I’m guessing that Mercedes will be able to win the development race betwwen themselves, Force India and Williams.

    Rookie: Petrov, on points although considering how bad the Sauber was at the start of the season Kobayashi could take that from him and he is in a worse car, Hulkenburg seems to be improving at a similar rate to Petroz, a shacky start but with some better results mid-season.

    New Team: Lotus (I would say that), However Lotus has stoped development on this car so Virgin may out become the fastest new team, and a double retirement from Lotus could mean that Virgin takes 10th from them.

  30. out of curiosity, what was Schumi’s lowest finishing point in the WDC for a full season?

    1. Wow, apparently 4th was his worst.

      1. He’s was disqualified in 1997

        1. But most people don’t count that, or count it as 2nd.

      2. 4th in 1993, 5th in 1999 )where he missed 6 races).

  31. Constructers: Red Bull
    best of the rest: Mercedes
    Schumacher: 11th place on the standings
    Top rookie: Kobayashi
    New teams: Lotus

    WC- Mark Webber.

  32. testing new avatar

  33. It’s almost sure that Schumacher will finish outside of the top ten, but I think it is unlikely that Rubens will finish the season in front of Michael. The battle is between Sutil and his coutryman. It’s also nice to see Kamui fighting for points and positions as he did last year for Toyota’s team, however Petrov has a much better car (in my mind). In relation to the new teams, their bad (and not tested) cars write off the chances of scoring points this year.

  34. Mr. Zing Zang
    18th August 2010, 3:32

    Lewis Hamilton.

  35. My view on “Rookie Teams” and their drivers: Based on criteria like Best race finish, Fewest number of retirements vs race starts, I agree that Lotus has outshone the other new teams over the past 13 races (even though Lotus might not be considered by all F1 pundits as a new team) in terms of having the highest race finish position. So Heikki is ranked the best of the Rookie-team drivers, because his best finish was 13th in Australia but hasn’t done spectacularly recently.

    Karun Chandhok has also performed very well in the 10 races he has participated in, in terms of finishing races and finishing in a better position than he qualified.

    Virgin still has some way to go in terms of reliability; both Glock and DiGrassi have each suffered 6 retirements out of 13 races. Although in terms of finishes, DiGrassi’s best race finish position is in 14th place vs Glock’s 16th.

    All in all, looks like Richard Branson should start getting measured for an air-stewardess outfit as he’s likely to be serving the teas and coffees on Tony Fernandes’ Air Asia airline at the end of the 2010 season.

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