Michael Bailey: Don’t lose your F1 interest just yet

Quite simply, with a season like 2011 you can easily miss the odd session here and there when you get to the tail end – stay with me here…

In contrast to the opening months, when development is fierce on every car and all practice doubles up as a test, we're now in a completely different landscape.

The silverware has gone. The development, for 2011 at least, is over. Everything comes down to the race. It's old school grand prix racing.

But that doesn't mean there is nothing to keep the interest up as Yas Marina and Sao Paulo come into view at fortnightly intervals in November.

How about looking to the domination of Sebastian Vettel – who is one pole position away from equalling Nigel Mansell's record of 14 in one season (1992). Who'd bet against him beating the record too?


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Need a reason to cheer Vettel on a Sunday? Well he is two wins away from equalling Michael Schumacher's magic 13 with Ferrari in 2004.

Not selling it? OK, how about the constructors' championship.

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With the way Group Lotus-backed Renault are heading, there is a genuine battle on for fifth – with Force India, Sauber and Toro Rosso all scratching at their heels. One position higher is worth millions to these teams – enough to make it interesting.

And don't forget the battle for 10th either – 11th and 12th positions get $10m each; while 10th gets another $15m on top of that.

What's more, even though Team Lotus are comfortably ahead in that particular battle at the moment, one freak 12th place for either Virgin Racing or Hispania and they will automatically trump the Norfolk marque's three 13th-place finishes.

Precarious to say the least.

As it happens, tomorrow will also be a big day to look out for.

The Formula One Commission gets together in Geneva to discuss a host of 2012 matters – they include whether Renault can rename its chassis and team to Lotus, whether Team Lotus can do likewise with Caterham, and Virgin Racing can alter their chassis from a Virgin to a Marussia.

Obviously, two of those changes will have a big impact on how those teams are viewed – and maybe how this paper will report on them too.

The fall-out – or quite possibly love-in – from that meeting in Switzerland may be the most fascinating battle still to be played out – and the ramifications will last longer than November 2011 too.

• For a brief second, I was hoping it was Fernando Alonso that Lewis Hamilton was spearing into – and that is saying something.

But no – it was always going to be Felipe Massa. That has been the script for this season.

The same force that draws Vettel away from the rest of the F1 field seems to enjoy driving numbers three and six into each other like a five-year-old playing with their toy cars. And make no mistake, this is a proper feud.

Hamilton said he tried to sort things out with the Brazilian this weekend – Massa said he did no such thing. Back to square one.

For me, Massa has been at fault himself plenty, while it's hard not to worry about Lewis – the guy's clearly has too much on his mind. You hope he's getting the support he needs.

All of which leaves two races for the pair to avoid each other. No, I can't see it either.

• OK, so it was some way from being the best race we've ever seen. In all honesty the recent grands prix have not really lived up to the earlier rounds this season.

But there should still be plenty of room for praise of India – both in the way the public took to the weekend and the fantastic circuit at Greater Noida.

In many ways, how the country clearly welcomed Formula One comfortably outshone the race – admittedly through an almost constant shroud of dust. Yes, it really is like that in India – and all over the country too.

Given the potential of Herman Tilke's latest track, I'm banking on there being some great races at the Delhi circuit in the coming years.

What should certainly be interesting in 2012 will not only be how the second race at Greater Noida goes, but comparing India's inaugural effort to the feel and atmosphere the United States' delivers in Austin for its own version – the 41st 'first' US GP.

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