Abu Dhabi: Both Fernando Alonso and Sebastian Vettel deserve the F1 crown for their exploits this season, according to former McLaren driver David Coulthard, who believes the title chase will go down to the wire.
Alonso sits 10 points behind Vettel with two races to go after the Ferrari man closed up on his rival at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix on Sunday, where Alonso finished second and Vettel third.
Both drivers are targeting third world titles as they bid to come out on top after the next two stages in Austin in the US and Sao Paulo in Brazil on November 18 and 25. Alonso, 31, won back-to-back titles in 2005 and 2006, while Vettel, 25, achieved the same feat over the past two years and now stands on the brink of joining an elite list of just two other drivers — Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio — to have won three world titles in a row.
Briton’s Coulthard, who won 13 of 247 races in a 14-year career in F1, couldn’t pull the two apart after they both finished behind Kimi Raikkonen on Sunday.
“It’s a two-horse battle for the championship from now until the end of the season,” Coulthard, now a well-known commentator, told Gulf News. “Ferrari can absolutely do this and no-one would say they didn’t deserve it the way Fernando’s driven this year.
“But Sebastian can absolutely do it too. He’s got the advantage and no-one can take away what he’s achieved this year. It was an amazing performance today [in Abu Dhabi] coming from the back of the grid to finish third. Red Bull genuinely believed they wouldn’t get a point because they know how difficult it is to overtake here.
“Of course anything’s possible in F1 but I just thought if Sebastian had got back into the points alone [from the back of the grid] he would have done well.
“In the end it comes down to emotion. Where does your heart lie? Does it lie with Ferrari or does it lie with Red Bull? Do you back the Spaniard or the German? It’s not a question of whether they are both great drivers or great teams.
“They are both great and I don’t think you can separate them. They both deserve the championship. It’s also not a question of saying ‘Vettel’s won it the last two years therefore it should be someone else’s turn’. The guy has kept it together this year.
“It could all be over in Austin if Sebastian wins and Fernando doesn’t finish, but I hope it goes down to the wire because that would be a great finale for us all.”
Both Raikkonen and Vettel used swear words while being interviewed by Coulthard on the podium on Sunday. Coulthard apologised to viewers for the drivers’ poor choice of words, but then Vettel poured a bottle of rose water over the suited and booted Scot.
The whole episode was televised live and Coulthard said: “I’m sticky — it’s actually 7up. I’m completely sticky, my hair and everything. I’ll take a shower later, its funny.”
“It’s actually more embarrassing though that they swore, Kimi and Sebastian, because it goes out live to the whole feed [world]. I guess they don’t really enjoy doing those interviews on the podium.”