x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Hopes of Abu Dhabi title finale boosted

Sebastian Vettel's third win of the season at the Japanese Grand Prix increases the likelihood of the drivers' championship going to the wire at the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi next month.

Sebastian Vettel's third win of the season at the Japanese Grand Prix yesterday has increased the likelihood of the drivers' championship going to the wire at the final round of the season in Abu Dhabi next month. The German is now 14 points behind Mark Webber, his Red Bull-Renault teammate and championship leader. Third place for Fernando Alonso, the Ferrari driver, means he is also 14 points off Webber. He had been 11 adrift going into the race.

With 25 points for a win and three races still to go, the battle is wide open. Webber has the points on the board, but Alonso and Vettel have the momentum. Alonso won two of the last three races before yesterday's grand prix at a track that did not suit Ferrari, while Vettel has finished ahead of Webber in the last three races. While Japan was a good weekend for Vettel, it was a disappointing one for the McLaren-Mercedes drivers.

Jenson Button, the world champion, could only finish fourth and he is now 31 points adrift of Webber, while Lewis Hamilton's fifth place has left him 28 behind. Even if one of them won in South Korea, Brazil and Abu Dhabi it still would require Webber to finish off the podium at least once for them to take the title. 

gcaygill@thenational.ae