Relaxed Vettel ready to claim F1 title in India
GREATER NOIDA, India (AP) — Sebastian Vettel can afford to downplay the importance of winning Sunday’s Indian Grand Prix. He doesn’t need to win the race to claim a bigger prize.
With a massive 90-point lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in the drivers’ standings, the German needs only to finish fifth or better to claim a fourth successive world championship title and become the third man to achieve the feat, joining Formula One greats Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher.
“Obviously it’s looking pretty good, but we focus on the job we have this weekend which is to get the maximum both for the race and for the championship,” a relaxed Vettel said Thursday.
Vettel dashed Alonso’s hopes of challenging for the title when he won the previous GP at Suzuka, Japan — his fifth straight win and ninth of the season.
He can now cap his season of dominance by sealing the driver’s title in India with four races remaining.
“For sure it’s nice to have the opportunity,” Vettel said. “I’m not trying to focus on that, I’m trying to focus on the race and I’ve said many times the most important thing for us and myself is to win the championship. It doesn’t really matter where and when.”
Vettel and Red Bull have dominated the 5.125-kilometer (3.184-mile) Buddh International Circuit since the first Indian GP in 2011, winning both previous races from pole position and leading every lap.
Despite his obvious affinity with the track, Vettel says he feels no pressure to win the title here.
It’s not one of the things you want to get out of the way. It should be a very positive thing,” he said. “Obviously we’re in a great position with a good gap in the points table, but I don’t come here thinking I have to do this or have to do that. I didn’t do that the last three years.”
A resigned Alonso said Vettel’s only problem was deciding where he wanted to claim the title.
“If Sebastian wins here or in Abu Dhabi, it’s more a problem for him,” he said. “Depends when he wants to celebrate, which is the best country to celebrate.”
The only other driver apart from Vettel to record podium finishes at both Indian GPs is Alonso, who was third in 2011 and second last year.
A two-time world champion, Alsonso said he doesn’t need to be driving for a title to be motivated to finish well.
“Motivation is always 100 percent and you want to do well,” the Spaniard said. “So for the rest of the year we will try to help the team to get the goal of second place in the constructor’s championship, try to score as many points as possible and get some podiums if I can.”
Mark Webber, who won pole position at Japan, is hungry for another win over his Red Bull teammate before leaving F1 at the end of the season, while Kimi Raikkonen and Lotus teammate Romain Grosjean have been building a sustained charge throughout the second half of the season, despite some poor showing in qualifying.
Mercedes driver Nico Rosberg, with two wins this season, is also a danger.
“I’m sure it’s going to be a tough weekend,” Vettel said. “I think we have reason to believe the car will be competitive, so we’re in good shape, but I’m sure the others will try and push us very hard.”