Fernando Alonso has emerged as odds on favourite in the title fight following Abu Dhabi Grand Prix qualifying, despite only taking third on the grid.
Although Sebastian Vettel and Lewis Hamilton start ahead of Alonso, both need the Ferrari to finish down the order even if they win, as Alonso can still be champion by finishing fourth if Vettel wins or 10th if Hamilton wins. His key rival is Mark Webber, who is just eight points behind in the standings, and the Australian has only qualified fifth. If the race finished in qualifying order, the final championship standings would therefore see Alonso with 261 points, Vettel at 256, Webber at 248 and Hamilton with 240.
Alonso's nightmare scenario had been an all-Red Bull front row, as he would then have lost out to Webber if the Australian won with Vettel second. Had Hamilton – whose McLaren team has shown improved form this weekend – got between Red Bull and Alonso then the Spaniard's situation would have looked even more bleak.
Instead, Webber's disappointing qualifying result puts Alonso firmly in the driving seat, as Webber will be hard-pressed to overhaul Alonso's points advantage without winning, due to the gaps between scores further back being so much smaller.