This is it. After sixteen rounds of this year’s FIA Formula One World Championship, the two greatest drivers of the modern era – Fernando Alonso and Michael Schumacher – are now tied on points as we head into the final two races in this long season.
Both drivers are now level with 116 points apiece after Schumacher’s latest victory in China and the Ferrari team are currently on form after a series of race wins.
As for Renault and Alonso, they are determined to readdress the issue to claim the drivers’ and constructors’ title after a year long battle with the Italian manufacturer. At one point, the French team were leading by 25 points as Alonso was heading towards his second successive drivers’ crown.
But then came the setback in the second part of the season, in particular the ban on the mass damper system that affected the performance of the Renault R26. It seems the advantage has been shifted to the package of the Ferrari 248 chassis, Michael Schumacher and the Bridgestone tyres.
Renault are still leading the constructors’ championship, but by a small margin of a single point (179 to 178). A one-two finish in Suzuka will secure the manufacturers’ title for Flavio Briatore’s team. But everyone’s attention is on the drivers.
If Michael wins the race in Japan and Fernando fails to finish in the top eight or retires, then the drivers’ title will go to the German. This will be a fantastic achievement by the retiring champion after 15 years in Formula One.
Tyres will play a crucial role in the final two races with Bridgestone focusing on winning on their home track at Suzuka against tyre rival Michelin, who will leave the sport in Brazil in two weeks time.
So who will win the ultimate prize in Formula One? To be honest, I like to see Michael and Fernando to triumph, as both have driven superbly all year. But there can only be one winner. Let battle commence!