Brazilian Grand Prix? It’s All About Who Is Not on Pole — and Who Qualified 14th

Victor Caivano/Associated PressMichael Schumacher fans sending a message with a banner to the German driver, who will retire from Formula One after the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

SÃO PAULO — The final race of the Formula One season, running in São Paulo tomorrow at the Brazilian Grand Prix, will decide who becomes the youngest triple world champion in history: Sebastian Vettel of Red Bull or Fernando Alonso of Ferrari. The battle is guaranteed to be exciting, after Vettel qualified to start the race only in the fourth position, and Alonso only eighth, guaranteeing that neither will be able to run off in the lead from start to finish.

Still, Vettel has 13 points more than Alonso does and needs only to finish fourth or better to win the title. Alonso had a tiny bit of help after qualifying, when Pastor Maldonado of the Williams team was sent back 10 spots on the grid for not weighing his car during the session. That pushed Alonso up to seventh.

The weather may play a role during Sunday’s race as well: there’s a strong chance of rain. That can create chaos and it could knock out one or the other drivers from the title battle.

It is rare that the spotlight would shine so brightly on drivers who have qualified so low, and not on leaders like Lewis Hamilton or his teammate, Jenson Button, who will start from the front row of the grid.h Hamilton scored pole position in this, his last race for McLaren before going to Mercedes. But it is even more rare that the spotlight should be shining so brightly on the man who qualified only 14th on Saturday (and who will be bumped up to 13th thanks to the Maldonado penalty).

That man was Michael Schumacher, the seven-time champion who will be racing in the last Formula One race of his career on Sunday. Of course, that is also what he said in 2006 in Brazil — the first time he retired, before returning three years later. But he will be 44 years old in January, so there is not much chance he will be back.


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