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Will Button seal the deal at Interlagos?

india Updated: Oct 17, 2009 00:17 IST
Steve Slater

After the floodlit splendour of Singapore and the newly refurbished Suzuka track in Japan, there couldn't be a greater contrast as the Formula One circus arrives in Sao Paolo. This is most definitely a circuit of the old school.

Yet Interlagos is also a track that has brought some of the most memorable motor racing moments of recent time. Little wonder that every driver, team member, journalist and race fan enjoys a love/hate relationship with the Brazilian GP. This brings us back to motor racing in the raw.

The track itself is an amalgam of fearsomely bumpy surfaces and stunningly good corners. The 320kph approach to turn 1, the Senna-S, is one of the greatest overtaking points anywhere in the world. Add to this the roaring passion of the fans and the continuous samba beat, which begins on the long access road to the track. The race has a party atmosphere like no other.

The question is, come Sunday evening, which driver will be enjoying the party most? Would it be Rubens Barrichello, hoping for a home win almost certainly in his penultimate drive with the Brawn team before moving to Williams next season?

Could it be Sebastian Vettel, whose domination of the Japanese GP has raised his chances from a minor probability to become a threat to Brawn in the final races.

Or will it be Jenson Button, who arrives in Brazil with a fourteen-point advantage over teammate Barrichello and a sixteen-point lead over Vettel. Third place or better will mean that Jenson could be celebrating the 2009 World Championship title in Sao Paolo.

Except in the race, it doesn't seem to work like that. Back in 2007, feuding McLaren drivers Lewis Hamilton and Fernando Alonso arrived with a seven-point lead over Kimi Raikkonen.

A second place for Alonso or sixth for Hamilton would have made them champions. History records that victory for Raikkonen, at the head of a one-two for Ferrari ahead of Alonso, and a disastrous 7th for Hamilton, meant that the title went to the Finn.

Last year, the chase was even closer. Hamilton, trying to play the numbers game in the final laps of a rain soaked race, nearly didn't achieve the fifth place he needed for the title. Meanwhile Massa's charging performance nearly gave him the crown.

This year, Brazil is no longer the final round. Even if Jenson fails to score any points, he would still take a four-point lead into the final race of 2009 in Abu Dhabi.

Overcast conditions and even rain could be likely over the weekend. If that happens, it exposes the Brawn BGP001 cars weakness, its inability to get sufficient temperature into its tyres. Meanwhile I suspect that Vettel's run of form may continue, which combined with the advantages of KERS for Ferrari and McLaren and the improved performance of Toyota in recent races, could squeeze the Brawns out of points.

That would set up a championship finale in Abu Dhabi, every bit as tense as those delivered by Sao Paolo in the past. In the meantime, Brazil is going to be as highly charged, exciting and unmissable as ever!