Sidepodcast - All for F1 and F1 for all

Point, counter-point - The 2012 F1 champion - Does Alonso deserve a third championship, or is it Vettel's hat trick for the taking?

Published by Christine

It can hardly have escaped your notice that this weekend plays host to the championship showdown of the 2012 season, and there are just two contenders left in the fight - Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso. With such a head to head battle approaching, we thought it was only fair to debate which of the two drivers is the worthy champion, which is more deserving of taking home their third title.

Mumm champagne and glitter atop the podium in Brazil

First up, let's welcome new author Munaf von Rudloff (@tyresm0ke) who takes to the stand to speak on behalf of the current championship leader.

Why Vettel deserves the 2012 title - by Munaf

It’s difficult to argue this, in what has been a tumultuous yet exciting F1 season. Seven different drivers winning the first seven races, seven from seven! We’ve had a welcome return to the top step for Williams and of course, the eighth different winner, Kimi Räikkönen is a fan favourite on and off the track, having done spectacularly with a fairly decent package in the Lotus E20 on his return to the sport.

The F2012 is a fairly decent package in which, Fernando Alonso has showcased his immense driving talent, of that there can be no doubt. The Ferrari has vastly improved over the course of the season, but the wins in Malaysia and Germany came down to Alonso’s talent and the changing conditions. F1 in 2012 is about the day, the weather, the track and the package, what’s not to like?

So why do I think that Sebastian Vettel should win the WDC? He deserves it no more or less than Alonso, who in the inferior car (over a single lap) is the neutral’s favourite. The RB8 didn’t start off that spectacularly however, needing the heat of Bahrain to get its tyres working and a raft of mid-season updates to bring Sebastian the wins. If the season was about fastest car and reliability wasn’t an issue, Lewis Hamilton would be champion by now. Reliability has been an issue for Vettel with alternator woes in Valencia and Monza.

You get an insight to the man, of a ruthless and temperamental perfectionist

Vettel has taken the opportunity when it has been handed to him, as when Lewis retired in Singapore and made his luck when he’s been out-qualified, such as in Korea, overtaking Mark Webber at the start. He’s also shown that he’s openly vulnerable, and perhaps this is where he is weaker than Alonso. However I think he also draws his strength from this ‘childishness’ – I’m looking at you Jacques Villeneuve! Remember, most of us weren’t able to access radio when Alonso was winning his WDCs, and something tells me he would have been just as impatient and quick to anger.

Let’s go back to Abu Dhabi, where the team opted to run Sebastian from the pitlane after an under-fuelled car in qualifying demoted him to the back of the grid. He proved to most that he can race from the back and can overtake and race to the front. You get an insight to the man, of a ruthless and temperamental perfectionist, yelling out at Ricciardo under the Safety Car, or from the impetuous off-track move on Grosjean. One also feels that he overcomes self-imposed adversity, trusts his engineer “Rocky” and gets on with his job. That’s why neither Alonso nor Webber are leading the championship going into the final round at Interlagos.

Alonso needs a team that is fully 100% behind him, one that will sacrifice the grid placing of their other driver and if they do something similar to Massa in his home GP, I could never respect Fernando’s 3rd WDC – I’m already left with a distaste after attending the wonderful USGP in person! This is why Vettel is destined to become the youngest ever 3-time and 3-time consecutive F1 Champion; he really is the fastest driver without needing the team to be his and his alone.

Why Alonso deserves the 2012 title - by Christine

The reason F1's champion for this season should be Fernando Alonso is because the Spaniard is the best all-round driver on the grid, creating a stellar season out of almost nothing. If the World Championship is solely based on the best driver, than Alonso should walk it. He has dragged a reluctant Ferrari chassis to race victories, propelled himself into the lead of the championship until just four races ago, and finds himself one of the two remaining drivers who can take the title.

It's true, he hasn't won a race since Germany, and it's also true that he hasn't won the most races this year. He's not even the second-most-winningest driver this year, but he pushed hard for an incredible points-finish streak that helped him lead the standings for far longer than anyone anticipated. The F2012 was not, and still isn't, a particularly good car, but Alonso used his experience, his tenacity and his excellent racecraft to keep himself in contention, in a season where no one expected the prancing horse to keep up.

He has always been there, fighting, forcing his way to a position where the car doesn't belong

Ferrari have actually had very good reliability, particularly if you compare it to the constant letdown of Red Bull's alternators. Alonso's two retirements this year have come at the hands of a certain Romain Grosjean in Belgium, and perhaps slightly by his own hands with Kimi Räikkönen in Japan. Otherwise, he has always been there, fighting, forcing his way to a position where the car doesn't belong. You only have to look at what Massa could muster at the beginning of the season (when team orders were less prevalent) to see what Alonso was achieving.

The Spaniard has been known for letting his temper get the better of him in season's past, but for this year, he's been one of the calmest on the grid. Where the pressure started to tell on other championship rivals, where they threw in the towel before they were mathematically out of the running, Fernando has kept his eyes on the prize and has doggedly refused to accept anything other than the potential to win. The chance may be slim, but there is still a chance. It is this same Alonso that was left bitterly disappointed in Abu Dhabi 2010, when that chance at the title went Sebastian Vettel's way. It wouldn't be fair for the same thing to happen all over again.

I can see that Vettel is fast and furious, and deserves a third title, but I think Alonso deserves it more and/or first. Both drivers are vying to become the youngest to secure their third World Championship, but crucially, Alonso is aiming for his next title with a new team. It means more when you can claim victory with different teams, particularly if you have not just hopped to the next big thing, but stuck through some bad years with your colleagues as well.

For all of these reasons, I think that Fernando Alonso deserves to be the 2012 F1 World Champion. That, and the fact that it really is someone else's turn.

Have your say

Who do you agree with, and which side are you taking? Let us know in the comments and keep the debate going!