x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

Vettel: I will take title fight to Abu Dhabi

Sebastian Vettel warned Jenson Button after his victory at Susuka that he was confident of taking drivers' title race all the way to Abu Dhabi.

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates with his team after winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. The result keeps the German in contention for the world title with two races left of the season.
Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates with his team after winning the Japanese Grand Prix at Suzuka. The result keeps the German in contention for the world title with two races left of the season.

SUZUKA // Sebastian Vettel came home a comfortable winner of yesterday's Japanese Grand Prix and then immediately warned Jenson Button that he was confident of taking the race for the drivers' title all the way to Abu Dhabi. Vettel realistically needs to win the last two races of the season - first in Brazil on October 18 and finally in Yas Island on November 1 - to have any chance of making up the 16-point deficit to Button.

But the German is confident he is more than capable of doing just that after his dominant display which earned him his third victory of the season. "The title is still possible and we are here to fight to the end," said the Red Bull driver, who led from start to finish in a faultless drive in Suzuka. He added: "We're getting quicker all the time and we should be really competitive in Brazil and Abu Dhabi, and the team will put everything in to this while the title is still possible. We won't give up."

Vettel is looking to Kimi Raikkonen's remarkable success in 2007 for inspiration when the Finn managed to overturn a 17-point deficit in the last two races to pip Lewis Hamilton for the title that year. "I think Kimi had quite a big gap [to make up to Hamilton] with two races to go," he said. "Everyone said to Lewis it will not be a problem, sitting in one of the most competitive cars, just get a couple of points, but you can see sometimes, as I said before, things just don't work your way. Anything is possible. The bottom line is that we're here to fight."

Button could only muster eighth place yesterday to earn a solitary point in the drivers' standings. After dominating the beginning of the 17-race championship with six wins from the opening seven races the Briton has since picked up only 25 points in the past eight races and finished on the podium only once. However, he still remains the overwhelming favourite to win the title, needing to take just six points from the final two races to be the champion, and knows a podium finish in Brazil would guarantee him having the No 1 on his car in 2010.

After finishing a place behind teammate Rubens Barrichello in the race, Button said: "I lost a point today which was really frustrating as my pace was good out there. "But I'm still leading with two races to go and things could definitely have gone a lot worse for me after the problems we had in qualifying. I think we did the best job in a difficult situation." Despite Vettel's win, Barrichello remains Button's closest challenger in the title fight, sitting 14 points behind his Brawn teammate.

And the Brazilian said he was relishing the prospect of a big points haul in front of his home crowd at the Interlagos circuit in Sao Paulo. "I struggled today, but what's important is that I'm still in the fight for the championship," he said. "I'm really looking forward to Brazil and I'll have the support of my home fans so I like to think I'll be hard to beat. I hope so anyway." mmajendie@thenational.ae

More Formula One, s8-9