"I don't think the title fight is still on. Even if Sebastian retired from all four (remaining) races, I would have to win all of them."
- Fernando Alonso
Bernie Ecclestone, the chief of the commercial side of the F1 championships, said a few months ago that the 2014 Indian Grand Prix would be dropped to tweak the racing calendar and that he was working with event promoters Jaypee to have one in the first half of 2015. The reason was said to be 'political', interpreted to mean that teams are not happy with the taxation policy of India and the red tape involved. The F1 chief has a possible 22 races in his mind for next year, although the teams have expressed a strong preference for a maximum of 20. Russia's first race in the Black Sea resort of Sochi and the return of F1 racing to US and Austria are planned for 2014.
Vettel and Red Bull (with Mark Webber as team mate) would like to have a hat-trick of wins at Delhi, having won there in 2011 and 2012. Webber, who has already announced his retirement from F1, would want to do as well as possible in the remaining four races of the year. Fernando Alonso has already conceded this year's drivers' championship to Vettel, but his performance at Japan has enabled him to earn a tally of 1,571 points in the championships held so far - five more than the points logged by all-time great Michael Schumacher, who won the world championships seven times. Naturally Alonso would like to add to his tally in the remaining races to make it difficult for any driver to surpass him in the foreseeable future.
According to the scoring system, drivers finishing in the first 10 positions get 25, 18, 15,12,10, 8, 6, 4, 2 and 1 points, respectively. The constructor's title is decided by adding the points scored by the two members of each team. At the end of the year, the points of all races are added to determine the championships for the drivers and the constructors. After the race in Japan, the top three positions in the two championships are as follows:
Drivers: Sebastian Vettel (297); Fernando Alonso (207); Kimi Raikkonen (177)
Constructors: Red Bull (445); Ferrari (297); Mercedes (287)
Vettel has to finish fifth or better at the Buddh circuit to become this year's champion. As for the constructor, the performances of the teams are as follows:
Ferrari: (297: Fernando Alonso - 207; Felipe Massa - 90)
Mercedes: (287: Lewis Hamilton - 161; Nico Rosberg - 126)
Ferrari can win only under the extreme assumptions of Alonso and Massa getting the top two ranks and Vettel and Webber earning no points in each of the next four races. It is quite improbable.
The 5.14 km track at BIC has been designed by German architect Herman Tilke and has often drawn comparison to Belgium's Spa-Francorchamps, long hailed as F1's best circuit because of its fast, free-flowing, undulating nature. The track has 16 turns, with a good mix of fast and slow ones, to make it a driver's paradise.