Vettel ready to put F1 championship to bed

Friday, 11 October 2013 03:15 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

REUTERS: At the end of a week in which he has been accused of sending Formula One fans to sleep, Sebastian Vettel can put the championship to bed on Sunday. If the Japanese Grand Prix pans out the same as last year’s race, the 26-year-old Red Bull driver will be enjoying sweet dreams as the youngest quadruple world champion – and only the third four-in-a-row winner – with four races to spare. “I’m trying not to think about it, to be honest,” the German, who will be chasing a fifth successive race win and fourth pole in a row, told reporters in South Korea last weekend. He will need exceptional mind control for that to happen. Vettel stands on the brink of joining three of the all-time greats – Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost and Michael Schumacher – in the record books as the only drivers to have won four or more titles in the 63-year history of the sport. The championship leader enjoys a 77 point lead over Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso and will wrap up the title if he wins at Suzuka and the Spaniard fails to finish in the top eight. There is every chance of that happening, even if Alonso has finished eighth or higher in all but one of the 14 races so far this year. “We are not thinking about the championship. If the moon and stars align and he (Vettel) wins the race and Fernando is ninth or below, then theoretically he can win the championship,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told reporters after last weekend’s victory, showing he knew exactly what was required. “Our approach in Suzuka will be the same as in our other races this year and we will go there to get the best out of ourselves and the championship will tend to take care of itself,” Horner added. “So long as we win it, I don’t care where we win it and I think the chances of us winning it in Suzuka are low. When does Fernando Alonso ever not finish a race?” The answer came back immediately: At Suzuka last year. Vettel won that race from pole position, leading all the way and setting the fastest lap, while Alonso retired after spinning off into the gravel at the first corner only seconds after the start. The Spaniard, whose fighting spirit is reflected by the Samurai swordsman tattooed on his back, has already recognised that it will take a comeback or slump of America’s Cup proportions to deny Vettel a fourth crown. He and his team both know that is not going to happen, even if Vettel’s Australian team mate Mark Webber has retired from the last two races with his car’s engine in flames.