So it’s come down to this. The final round of the season, the two team-mates, the arch rival and the notoriously unforgiving streets of Sydney.
One thing’s for sure, Red Bull Racing Australia has all but wrapped up the 2013 teams’ championship. As for the driver championship however, the picture isn’t so clear. In fact, it’s murky as hell.
For each of the 250km Sydney races, 150 points is on offer for the win, which means two race wins would net 300 points and almost certainly gift that driver – were it Whincup or Lowndes – the championship.
But it’s not that simple in V8 Supercars, with the points system rewarding every driver who crosses the finish line. That makes finishing the races more crucial than ever and in years past, that hasn’t always been an easy task for Whincup – or any other driver for that matter – in Sydney. But Lowndes has done it better than most.
In fact, the permutations are endless.
Here’s what we do know – Whincup leads Lowndes by 20 points and Winterbottom is 124 points behind the lead.
We pulled out the old scientific calculator and after Dutto completed spelling “boobs” upside down, we broke down the numbers to come up with a few possible scenarios.
As we mentioned earlier, given V8’s point structure the mathematical possibilities are almost endless. And the fact there are two races makes calculations all but impossible because whatever happens in race one will have a massive effect on what’s required for race two.
But in short, whoever wins the championship will almost definitely have to finish ahead of his two rivals in both Sydney races – there won’t be any room for collecting points, so tight is the battle.
Winterbottom has the toughest task.
If Whincup wins race one in Sydney, Winterbottom must finish third or better to even stay mathematically in the game for the title in race two and, even then, he would still need Whincup to screw up race two completely and him finish first or second to have a chance of winning the title. That would also rely on Lowndes having a shocker in both races and finishing well outside the top-15.
Winterbottom could effectively claim the championship lead in race one if he were to win and Lowndes and Whincup were to finish 27th or worse. If Winterbottom finished second in race one, he would need Whincup to DNF and Lowndes to come 27th or worse to set-up a last race championship battle on Sunday. If all three finish the race inside the top five, a similar scenario will almost certainly apply for race two on Sunday for Winterbottom. But hey, it’s Sydney, and we know anything can and will happen.
For Lowndes to claim the championship lead in race one there are multiple possibilities. If he won, Jamie would need to come third or worse for Lowndes to carry the lead into the final race on the Sunday. If Lowndes were to win both Sydney races and Jamie come second in both, Lowndes would win the championship – by four points.
For Whincup to win the championship, it’s relatively simple. If he finishes ahead of Lowndes in at least one race and finishes no further back than two spots from Lowndes in another, he will win the championship – given they both finish inside the top-10 and Winterbottom doesn’t win both.
Our stats guru and the Red Bull brains trust have done their heads in to come up with every scenario but we stopped at 55 and quite frankly, even the internet doesn’t have enough room to run a story that long.
It’s convoluted, it’s confusing and to be quite frank, no one will know the exact requirements until the implications of race one’s result on the Saturday are made clear.
So in essence, barring consecutive DNFs or bottom 10 results for Lowndes and Whincup coupled with consecutive top-three results for Winterbottom, the championship will come down to Lowndes and Whincup.
Whincup needs only to finish ahead of Lowndes but he has never finished on the podium in Sydney in eight races, while Lowndes has the most successful record of any driver at the circuit.