Looking ahead to the big showdown at a venue built for world title deciders!
Sky Sports F1's David Croft previews the big finale in Brazil
By David Croft. Last Updated: November 21, 2012 1:35pm
It's 4pm and the bus is in full swing along another Texan highway. Ranches, churches, RV Parks and as many fast food joints as you could ever wish for line the route as out of Austin we head toward Houston and the flight down to Sao Paulo.
ZZ Top's brilliant new album La Futura provides a suitably Texan soundtrack to a journey filled with a touch of sadness at saying goodbye to Austin and immense anticipation at what may lie in store for us all this weekend.
Firstly, Austin was as good a Grand Prix weekend as you could wish for. The welcome, as warm as the Texan sun at High Noon. This was not a city that just wanted to host F1, this was a city that wanted to embrace it. Mario Andretti spoke of how the sport had found a permanent home in the USA, I certainly hope so and can't wait to return.
And don't just think it was all about the party atmosphere. Had Sunday's race been as dull as ditchwater, the plaudits for the Grand Prix would have fallen on deaf ears.
The fact that the racing rose to the occasion served only to heighten the praise. Wasn't it a pleasure to see drivers racing? Not concerned, as has been the case by and large throughout the season, with tyre preservation. Not keeping their true pace in reserve to keep their strategy alive and eek out a few more extra laps so not to suffer too much in the final laps.
Pirelli, with what they admitted was a conservative choice, stumbled on a tyre selection that gave us a first-class race. Proper racing. Not a lottery where a driver could luck in to a strategy for some unexplained reason. But racing where the tyre compounds were a bit on the hard side, but yet offered a level playing field as they took everyone a few laps to generate the heat for the grip they wanted.
Managing tyres in 2012 has been akin to balancing a spirit level on a trampoline. Next year the compounds will be softer still. But do tyres that are on the harder side, offering less grip at the start but enough grip when eventually they do warm up actually offer the best solution? Too late to do anything about it for 2013, but worth looking at for the future? I'm not an engineer but it's a simple solution if it provides race like last weekends.
And as for the future, just like ZZ Top's return to their blues roots - I really do like this new album - isn't it great that once again a track with a history of thrilling showdowns, will decide the title?
Nothing against Circuit of the Americas but sometimes a venue deserves a championship decider and Interlagos is that venue. The fans that queue up overnight to get the best spot come Sunday will inject their passion and enthusiasm. The track itself will provide the potential for some great racing. And then there's the Sao Paulo weather...
When it rains in Brazil - it rains!
Rain is already in the air and the forecast is for it to get very cold and wet on Sunday.
With that in mind and an alternator problem that has affected him before and his team-mate last weekend still very much a threat, what must be going through Sebastian Vettel's head at the moment?
Underdogs have come to Brazil and gone home as the 'Best of Breed' in the past and in Fernando Alonso he has a rival and underdog whose tail just won't stop wagging. Both potential three-time champions may need the help of their team-mates here. Luckily both Webber and Massa have won there in the past.
But don't forget that in Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen we have two drivers that have the potential to gatecrash the championship party. Hamilton deserved that win in Austin, he should have had more this year, but you wouldn't put it past him to end his McLaren years with victory and a 50th podium for him in McLaren colours.
The scene is set for a brilliant final chapter. Who will win? I've said Alonso all season so don't expect me to change my mind now. It's not logical, the smart money would be on Sebastian. But sport sometimes isn't about logic, it's about the unexpected, the brilliance, the inspirational, the despair and the delight.
All of which Interlagos has proved in the past and this weekend, is on the verge of doing so once again.