x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Sebastian Vettel keeps mind on job in hand

But rivals in Singapore are more confident of the 'near-perfect' Red Bull driver's success.

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel checks on his car in Singapore.
Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel checks on his car in Singapore.

SINGAPORE // For a young man so quick on the track, Sebastian Vettelinsists he is in no rush to secure his second successive world championship title at Singapore's Marina Bay Circuit.

The 24-year-old Red Bull Racing driver, having won the 2010 title on the final day of the season in Abu Dhabi last November, can become the youngest double world champion in history this weekend in the Garden City.

Ultimately, the outcome depends on the finishing positions of his racing rivals, but Vettel says he is not getting caught up in the calculations.

The German has maintained throughout the season he will take every race as it comes and, after fielding questions from the world's media, he remained as predictable as his name appearing at the top of the time sheets in tomorrow's qualifying session.

"Would, could, should," he said when asked for his thoughts on converting his 112-point lead into an unassailable advantage and thus a title coronation.

"I haven't won anything yet and there is a long, long way to the chequered flag. People talk about it, but certain things have to happen.

"It reminds me a little bit of the situation we faced in Abu Dhabi where people came up every two or three minutes giving another option that is possible: 'Out of 1,467 options this could be one!'"

Despite rumours Red Bull have brought with them merchandise to mark the occasion of their young charge's second successive championship, Vettel is adamant that title success is "not the objective for this weekend".

"The target is to optimise our performance and then either we get surprised or not," he said. "Generally our target going into the season was to defend our title.

"We are in a very good position and there is no reason that the target should change. For us though, it doesn't really matter when, it matters to us that it happens and that is what we are working on."

The rest of the paddock are slightly more sure of Vettel's success, particularly his compatriot Timo Glock, who described his friend's season as "near perfect".

"Sebastian won the title last year with a lot of ups and downs," Glock said. "This year, I think he's managed to have a near-perfect season up until now."

Sergio Perez, the Sauber driver, said Vettel "deserves to win" while Ferrari's Fernando Alonso concurred. "He's been the best driver, with the best team," Alonso, the last driver to win back-to-back world championships, in 2005 and 2006, said.

"Red Bull deserve to be where they are. They were also very dominant last year, but they had some trouble in some races; this year they've improved those problems. [Vettel] has made very few mistakes."

Lewis Hamilton, who lost his title of youngest world champion to Vettel at Yas Marina Circuit, had nothing but compliments for his rival.

"He has really driven very, very well," Hamilton, the 2008 champion, said. "He has finished first and second in all the races apart from one, is massively consistent, massively controlled and his persona, his attitude has been very professional. I take my hat off to him."

Last year, Vettel found himself stuck behind Alonso throughout the race. This year, with no need to try risky manoeuvres, he could be forgiven for coasting comfortably to eventual title success. Not that he has any intentions of doing so.

"It would be wrong to drive around with the handbrake on just saying 'I need to finish'," he said. "If there's a chance and a gap, we have to go for it. If not, there's no need to try something stupid."



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