Fernando Alonso stated that he was “100 per cent confident” that he would clinch the F1 world championship with a podium finish in the season-ending Abu Dhabi grand prix.
But the Ferrari ace’s prediction is now slipping into the GP history books as a classic example of not counting one’s chickens prematurely. Sebastian Vettel finished the season as the sport’s youngest ever world champion and it would be hard to argue that he didn’t deserve it.
And yet the dynamic young German Red Bull driver only took the lead of the championship battle in the final race of the season into which he had gone holding third place behind Alonso and his team mate Mark Webber.
Alonso was at this stage unquestionably the favourite having already won five races and was poised in many people’s minds to cruise to his third title crown. Yet the impressive Maranello challenge turned into a strategic disaster and the Spaniard could only limp home seventh ahead of the similarly luckless Webber.
Red Bull Racing’s technical chief Adrian Newey presided over a brilliant design team which delivered the sensational RB6 challenger which, at most circuits, produced a performance cushion of around half a second a lap over its key opposition.
And yet the RB6 only managed nine victories out of the 19 races in the series, proving worryingly brittle on several occasions, but it was still the class of the field and should have added another four wins to its tally had it not been for these unwelcome setbacks.
The rivalry between Vettel and Webber also spilled over in a manner reminiscent of the Prost/Senna confrontations of the 1980s when they collided while battling for the lead at Istanbul.