For several races in the run-up to the Korean Grand Prix, Red Bull Racing could see a red dot in its mirrors growing ever-larger. Since the Italian Grand Prix, Fernando Alonso has been utterly relentless, turning in inch-perfect performances to give himself an 11-point championship lead and a great chance of winning a world title that seemed lost to him only a few months ago. At Interlagos, the arena where he was crowned in 2005 and '06, he has the chance to bring this most remarkable of title fights to an early close.
The Spaniard will continue his run of form in Brazil, make no mistake about that. Occasionally he makes errors when his interest level drops - as we saw at times during his second Renault stint and when things were going awry earlier this year - but with a sniff of the title he will deliver lap after lap. Though he has one serious disadvantage - the Red Bull has generally been the fastest thing in town this year and there's no reason to expect that to change in Brazil.
The equation is simple for Red Bull. On paper, the RB6 should allow Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel to lock out the front row for a third consecutive race. If they do that, their destiny is in their own hands. For Webber, it's even more explicit - win in Brazil and Abu Dhabi and the world championship is his.
So how should Red Bull play it? The knee-jerk reaction is to say that of course they should back Webber. Vettel is 25 points off Alonso after his engine disaster in Korea, yet team principal Christian Horner remains committed to equal status. And there is something to say for that approach.
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