This year’s fascinating Formula 1 campaign reaches its conclusion this weekend with the Brazilian Grand Prix from the famed Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo.
Reigning two-time world champion Sebastian Vettel goes into the final showdown 13-points clear of his nearest challenger Fernando Alonso, knowing finishing fourth or above will guarantee his third consecutive title.
The drivers’ title has been decided at the final race in three of the last five seasons and there will be another nail-biting conclusion to the championship in 2012.
With the first seven races producing an astonishing seven different winners, a host of drivers were in frame to mount a serious title challenge.
Despite criticism of the new Ferrari pre-season testing and at the first race of the year in Australia, Fernando Alonso emerged as the unlikely championship front runner by mid-season.
He posted a sensational victory in a rain-affected Malaysia, followed up by a win at his home grand prix in Valencia and again in Germany.
Red Bull had an indifferent start to the campaign, but went on to dominate the second half of the season, claiming their third straight constructors’ championship in Austin last weekend.
Sebastian Vettel’s hopes of retaining his title yet again looked a distant dream when the team and drivers departed for the mid-season break at the end of July.
He proved his mettle when he returned to the track though, winning four consecutive races from Singapore to India, followed by strong podium finishes in Abu Dhabi and the USA.
The German driver will also have history on his side in Brazil, as Red Bull drivers have taken the spoils in Interlagos for the past three seasons.
Mark Webber led the field home for the second time in three years at Interlagos in 2011, while Vettel concluded another championship-winning season by following the Aussie over the line in second place.
Heading into the final race of the 2012 season, Sebastian Vettel holds a lead of 13-point lead over Fernando Alonso.
Here’s what the two drivers must each do to become Formula 1 World Champion for the third time in their career…
As Brazilian Grand Prix brings the curtain down on another compelling season, it also marks the end of two notable associations.
Lewis Hamilton will also be a focal point at this race, as he brings the curtain down on his 14-year relationship with McLaren, the team he joined as a 13-year-old.
The 2008 world champion, who clinched his maiden title at this race, surprised many by agreeing a three-year contract with Mercedes, a team who recorded their first Grand Prix victory in almost 50 years in China earlier this season.
McLaren have moved quickly to fill the sizeable void left by Hamilton, bringing in highly rated Mexican driver Sergio Perez from Sauber.
Hamilton replaces the legendary Michael Schumacher, who announced his retirement from the sport for the second time in October.
The German, a seven-time world champion, returned to the cockpit in 2009 following a three-year absence, and will bid farewell to Formula 1 for a second time at the final race in Brazil, having done so six years previously, in what will be his 308th and final grand prix.
Whether it has hosted the first or final race of the year, the Brazilian Grand Prix at Interlagos has seen some epic contests since its inaugural race in 1973.
From 2005 to 2009, the drivers’ titles were all settled at the famous venue, with Alonso securing both of his world titles at the circuit in 2005 and 2006.
Vettel would become only the third driver in the history of F1 to win three consecutive world titles if he secures victory in Brazil, joining the great Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher in achieving such feat.
But Interlagos has a tendency to throw the cards up in the air, and they do not always come down as you might expect.
All things being equal, it should be Vettel and Red Bull celebrating as the chequered flag falls in Brazil, but there could yet be another sting in the tail.
It’s all set to be another thrilling climax to a pulsating year of grand prix racing.
You can watch full coverage of the Brazilian Grand Prix, the 20th and final round of the 2012 FIA Formula 1 World Championship, on BBC Sport and Sky Sports F1.Full TV details below… . .
BBC Sport will have free-to-air coverage of the conclusion to the 2012 Formula 1 season, with every single moment of the on-track action from Brazil being broadcast live and uninterrupted.
Live action begins on Friday with the two 90-minute free practice sessions, which will be shown live on BBC Red Button and online via the BBC Sport website.
Then on Saturday and Sunday, BBC One has full live coverage of both qualifying and the race.
After four seasons presenting the corporation’s highly acclaimed F1 coverage, the Brazilian Grand Prix will be Jake Humphrey’s 71st and final race for the BBC.
Humphrey announced his departure from the F1 scene in September, and leaves BBC Sport to join BT Vision, where he will present the new channel’s Premier League football coverage from the beginning of the 2013/2014 season.
In an interview with the Top Gear website, Humphrey said: “It is the greatest job in the world.
“I get to travel the world and host a show with two great mates. I stand right in the middle of one of the world’s most exciting sports.
“But my family has this saying ‘never sit in the comfy chair’.
Football was my first passion and I think it’s never really been presented well in the UK.
“It’s a great challenge. But I hope the door remains open to F1.”
A short tribute to his four years with the BBC F1 team is expected to air in Sunday’s live race show.
David Coulthard and Eddie Jordan will be on hand to provide lively analysis and discussion in the pits and paddock area.
The BBC team will be joined by a variety of special guests throughout the build-up shows, which will also feature behind-the-scenes features and interviews with some of the sport’s biggest names.
Commentary comes from Ben Edwards and David Coulthard, with technical analysis direct from the pit-lane from Gary Anderson, and Lee McKenzie will conduct the driver interviews.
During the race, viewers can log on to the BBC Sport website or press red to access extra interactive options, including on-board cameras, pit-lane channel and alternate commentary from Radio 5 Live.
Following BBC One’s live race transmission, viewers can press the red button to access the post-race F1 Forum.
Further information, news and video content can be found at bbc.co.uk/f1, and viewers are encouraged to interact with the live programmes via Twitter by contacting presenter @mrjakehumphrey, or via the hashtag #BBCF1
BBC Radio 5 Live and 5 Live Sports Extra will have live audio commentary of every on-track session, all provided by James Allen, John Watson and Jennie Gow, with special guests joining them throughout the weekend..
Sky Sports F1 has the season finale in Brazil covered from start to finish.
Every race, qualifying and practice session from all 20 rounds of the electrifying Formula 1 season has been broadcast on Sky Sports for the first time in 2012, as well as every round of both the GP2 and GP3 Series.
Simon Lazenby will present full coverage of the Friday practice sessions, qualifying and the race itself, where he will be joined for expert analysis throughout the weekend by Martin Brundle, Johnny Herbert and Damon Hill.
Further analysis will be provided by Georgie Thompson and Allan McNish at the SkyPad, Ted Kravitz will have the latest news and reports and from the pit lane, and Natalie Pinkham will interview the drivers.
Commentary on all sessions comes from David Croft. He will be joined by Allan McNish for the practice sessions, and then Martin Brundle for both qualifying and the race.
Friday night’s F1 Show, presented by Georgie Thompson and Ted Kravitz, will preview the championship decider. Sky F1 fans also have another chance to watch the thrilling documentary film Senna in the build-up to Sunday’s race.
As always, Sky Sports F1 will be offering a unique interactive service that lets you race with the drivers and keep up with all the latest stats.
Press the red button during live coverage to access Sky Race Control, an interactive service offer subscribers the chance to create their own viewing experience once again, from on-board cameras and live radio channels between team and car, to up-to-the-minute race data and statistics.
Plus with Sky Go, you can watch the drama unfold wherever you are on iPad, iPhone, selected Android phones and laptops.
During the close season, Sky Sports F1 will show a host of programmes including a review of the 2012 campaign and a Christmas special with Martin Brundle, Damon Hill and Johnny Herbert and more.
And there will be plenty of build-up to the 2013 season, which begins with the Australian Grand Prix on March 17.
Thursday 22nd November F1 Drivers Press Conference LIVE: 1.00pm-1.30pm – Sky Sports F1 Friday 23rd November F1: Brazilian Grand Prix – Practice 1 | Start: 12.00pm LIVE: 11.55am-1.35pm – BBC Red Button LIVE: 11.45am-1.50pm – Sky Sports F1 F1: Brazilian Grand Prix – Practice 2 | Start: 4.00pm LIVE: 3.55pm-5.35pm – BBC Red Button LIVE: 3.45pm-6.00pm – Sky Sports F1 F1 Team Principals Press Conference LIVE: 6.00pm-6.40pm – Sky Sports F1 The F1 Show – Brazilian Grand Prix Preview LIVE: 8.00pm-9.00pm – Sky Sports F1 Saturday 24th November F1: Brazilian Grand Prix – Practice 3 | Start: 1.00pm LIVE: 12.55pm-2.05pm – BBC Red Button LIVE: 12.45pm-2.10pm – Sky Sports F1 F1: Brazilian Grand Prix – Qualifying | Start: 4.00pm LIVE: 3.00pm-5.30pm – BBC One LIVE: 3.00pm-5.45pm – Sky Sports F1 Sunday 25th November F1: Brazilian Grand Prix – RACE | Start: 4.00pm LIVE: 3.00pm-6.15pm – BBC One LIVE: 2.30pm-7.15pm – Sky Sports F1 BBC F1 Forum: 6.15pm-7.15pm – BBC Red Button Highlights: 7.00pm-8.00pm – BBC Three Highlights: 9.00pm-10.30pm – Sky Sports F1 . .