Current F1 2010 World Championship leader Mark Webber may well have a trump card up his sleeve as what is already a nail-bitingly thrilling and unpredictable campaign heads into its final five races - whilst Fernando Alonso arguably finds himself in the weakest position of the five title contenders.

That is the inference drawn from a brief glance at the number of engines each driver in the field has left for Singapore, Japan, Korea, Brazil and Abu Dhabi, with a stipulated eight-race limit over the course of the season and most now close to the end of their allocation.

Should any competitor need to go over that limit, then a ten-place grid penalty will be imposed, as the recently-dropped Pedro de la Rosa found out to his cost in the Belgian Grand Prix at Spa-Francorchamps last month, after the Ferrari powerplant in the back of the Spaniard's Sauber C29 went bang.

Indeed, it is Ferrari that is most under pressure as the season nears its climax, with both Alonso and team-mate Felipe Massa now on their eighth engine - the only drivers aside from de la Rosa to have already reached the maximum - following a number of reliability issues and failures for the Prancing Horse in the early stages of the campaign. Any more problems for Alonso in particular from here on in could spell disaster for the double world champion's bid to add a third drivers' trophy to his impressive collection in F1 2010.

That also means the duo will not be at liberty to push quite as hard as their adversaries or conduct so much running during practice, with engine preservation now top of the agenda - and those with new engines will know they have access to a fraction more power, which in such a tight situation as this year's chase for the crown is turning out to be, could well prove to be vital.

The ace in the pack in that respect undoubtedly belongs to Webber, who along with Renault F1 pairing Robert Kubica and Vitaly Petrov and Williams veteran Rubens Barrichello, has two fresh units still at his disposal. According to the official F1 website, the Australian, Barrichello and de la Rosa were the only drivers not to fit a new V8 for the Italian Grand Prix at Monza just over a week ago, electing to brave a used engine around an ultra-fast circuit that is by common consent the most punishing on the annual F1 calendar, with an incredible 70 per cent of the lap driven at full throttle.

Indeed, whilst palpably not as powerful as its immediate Mercedes-Benz and Ferrari rivals, the Renault engine has clearly proven to compensate for that with excellent durability - though of the four Renault-powered contenders, it is Webber's team-mate Sebastian Vettel who has gone through the most, with only one new unit now left, mirroring the situation over at McLaren-Mercedes for both Hamilton and Button.

And as for de la Rosa's incoming replacement Nick Heidfeld, any engine change will automatically result in a grid demotion - welcome back, Nick!

The following list shows how many engines each driver has used:

Jenson Button McLaren-Mercedes 7
Lewis Hamilton McLaren-Mercedes 7
Michael Schumacher Mercedes Grand Prix 7
Nico Rosberg Mercedes Grand Prix 7
Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing-Renault 7
Mark Webber Red Bull Racing-Renault 6
Felipe Massa Ferrari 8
Fernando Alonso Ferrari 8
Rubens Barrichello Williams-Cosworth 6
Nico H?lkenberg Williams-Cosworth 7
Robert Kubica Renault F1 6
Vitaly Petrov Renault F1 6
Adrian Sutil Force India-Mercedes 7
Vitantonio Liuzzi Force India-Mercedes 7
S?bastien Buemi Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 7
Jaime Alguersuari Scuderia Toro Rosso-Ferrari 7
Jarno Trulli Lotus-Cosworth 7
Heikki Kovalainen Lotus-Cosworth 7
Sakon Yamamoto Hispania-Cosworth 7
Bruno Senna Hispania-Cosworth 7
Nick Heidfeld Sauber-Ferrari 9
Kamui Kobayashi Sauber-Ferrari 7
Timo Glock Virgin-Cosworth 7
Lucas Di Grassi Virgin-Cosworth 7

Comments

Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment