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Vettel: The fans are crazy

2013-10-10 07:58


TITLE IN THE BAG... Sebastian Vettel could wrap-up the 2013 F1 title chase at Suzuka on October 13. Image: AP

SUZUKA, Japan - After being accused of sending Formula 1 fans to sleep, Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel can put the championship to rest at the 2013 Japanese GP.

If the Japanese Grand Prix pans out the same as the 2012 race, 26-year-old Vettel will become the youngest quadruple F1 champion yet, with four races to spare.

He will be chasing a fifth consecutive race win and fourth pole in a row at Suzuka and said: "I'm trying not to think about it to be honest." He will need exceptional mind control for that to happen.


Vettel stands on the brink of joining three motor-racing greats - Juan Manuel Fangio, Alain Prost, Michael Schumacher - as the only drivers who have won four or more titles in the 63-year history of the sport.

The championship leader has a 77-point lead over Ferrari's Fernando Alonso and will wrap up the title if he wins at Suzuka and Alonso 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 in 2013.

Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said: "We are not thinking about the championship. If the moon and stars align and he (Vettel) wins and Fernando is ninth or below, then theoretically he can win the championship. 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.

"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 - at Suzuka in 2012. Vettel won that race from pole, leading all the way and setting the fastest lap, while Alonso retired after spinning into the gravel at the first corner only seconds after the start.

Alonso, whose fighting spirit is reflected by the Samurai tattooed on his back, has already recognised that it will take a comeback or slump of massive proportions to deny Vettel a fourth crown. He and his team know that is not going to happen, even if Vettel's team mate Mark Webber has retired from the last two races with his car in flames.

Ferrari principal Stefano Domenicali said: "Of course we need to be realistic, we know that it is almost impossible to win the title."

Alonso agreed: "We cannot expect miracles between now and the end of the championship. Second place in the Constructors' championship is probably a more realistic target. One thing's certain: we're not giving up now and we will give it our best shot right to the very end."


Suzuka is a favourite circuit for all drivers, ranking up with Spa as a real challenge that sorts the men from the boys as they come up against the fearsome 310km/h 130R corner.

It is no surprise that world champions have won 17 of the last 18 races at the fast figure-of-eight circuit and Vettel three of the last four. He did not win in 2011, when he finished third, but the title more than made up for that.

Vettel said: "I think it is the best track in the world."

The boos heard elsewhere when Vettel has appeared on the podium are unlikely to be repeated in Japan, where fans fill the stands even when nothing is happening on the track and stay for hours afterwards.

Vettel said: "The fans are crazy - completely crazy in a positive way. (We) get massive support there, big fans of motorsport, passionate about F1 and I think they enjoy the whole weekend."

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