5 years ago to this day, Kimi Raikkonen took an incredible come from behind championship victory at Interlagos. Hamilton suffered a gearbox issue(Youtube Link) which put an end to his challenge.
Gearboxes have been silently instrumental in shaping this year’s championship thanks to a new cost-saving legislation requiring a single gearbox to last 5 races. Failure to do so would mean a 5 place grid penalty if a new one is taken before the race (hence ruining your race, as seen countless times this season) or a DNF (Hamilton at Singapore). Embedded below is a great video explaining the intricacies of a Formula One gearbox courtesy of Sky Sports F1.
The most fascinating statement from that video for me is James Allison’s comment how Sau Paulo is a circuit notorious for breaking gearboxes… It’ll be the very last race on the very last gearbox that some drivers (Vettel in particular) have.
I can’t help but feel there might be a case of history repeating itself this year… Red Bull and Vettel look set to dominate the next few races. There could well be a scenario where Alonso needs a Vettel DNF and a win to take the title come Interlagos. Felipe Massa always goes well around Sao Paulo and “co-operated” in 2007 to let Kimi take the victory. With his rejuvenated form (he was faster in Korea), could we see Massa having to “co-operate” again for Alonso?
I do hate it when factors outside the driver’s control affect his championship. But that’s motorsport. Vettel’s had many alternator troubles this year and I don’t wish him bad luck. The best title deciders are like those of Suzuka 1988 between Senna and Prost or 1998/2000 between Schumacher and Mika Häkkinen. Two elite drivers battling it out till the very end, lap after lap.