18 November 2013
United States Grand Prix: Alonso secures second in championship
With the driver and team titles long ago locked up by Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull respectively, we now know the runner-up in the driver's championship - even if the team battle is wide open.
Heading into the final race of the 2013 season, Fernando Alonso has successfully secured the runners-up position in the drivers championship behind world champion Sebastian Vettel after finishing in fifth place in the United States GP in Austin.
While Vettel is far out in front on 372 points, Alonso's total of 227 points means that he's now 40 points clear of Lewis Hamilton with only a maximum of 25 points available to the winner of the final race of the season next weekend in Brazil, so the Ferrari driver can't be overtaken for second place.
Hamilton, however, will still have to put in a strong performance in Sao Paulo if he wants to keep hold of third place, as Mark Webber is just six points further back from him. Webber gained half that amount on Hamilton this weekend alone after finishing one place ahead of Hamilton at the Circuit of the Americas.
Webber will likely overhaul the absent Kimi Raikkonen for fourth place in the championship next week, but he himself is unlikely to be threatened by Nico Rosberg who is 20 points behind the Australian in the standings and therefore has to win, while Webber would have to score no higher than eighth place to allow the Mercedes driver to overhaul him.
Meanwhile Romain Grosjean can rest easy knowing that he will see out 2013 in seventh place in the championship regardless of what happens in Brazil next weekend, as he is too far back to make in-roads into Rosberg ahead but equally safe from any last-minute attack from Felipe Massa, who will finish his Ferrari career with an eighth place in this driver standings.
Over in the constructor standings, things really are too close to call in the battle over second, third and fourth places. With a maximum of 43 points available to a team that brings home its cars in a 1-2 sweep of the Brazilian Grand Prix, there's no way to be certain who will be runners-up to Red Bull.
Mercedes exit the United States GP with 348 points, with Ferrari in third place on 333 point and Lotus still in touch on 315 points. Admittedly, Lotus will he hard pressed to bounce from fourth to second in Sao Paulo, but they can't be counted out either as they were the highest scoring of the three teams in Austin this weekend with 18 points courtesy of Romain Grosjean's second place on the podium. Only Mercedes managed to bring both cars home in the points with Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg both contributing to the team's tally.
McLaren are a distant fifth place on 102 points, and if they're looking reasonably safe from a late surge form Force India then they have the man they just fired to thank for it, the Mexican having collected 18 points in total from three consecutive finishes in the top ten while team mate Jenson Button has scraped just the solitary point from this weekend's outing at Austin in the same period.
Force India made no forward progress this weekend with Paul di Resta finishing out of the points and Adrian Sutil the sole retirement of the day. Sauber have gained eight points on their rivals thanks to Nico Hulkenberg's sixth place finish, but that still leaves the Swiss team a rather daunting 24 points away from Force India in the standings.
With Toro Rosso motionless on 32 points, surely the most delighted team coming out of Austin will be Williams, who jumped from a solitary championship point (won by Pastor Maldonado at Hungary) to five, thanks to a fine eighth place finish for Valterri Bottas, the first time that the Finn has finished in the top ten and in the points in his F1 career to date after a very impressive weekend as a whole for the 24-year-old rookie. It ensures that Williams have a crucial share of the sport's revenue in 2014 as they pull clear from Caterham and Marussia who have yet to score any championship points in F1.
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