F1: Ferrari concede defeat to Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull after Stefano Domenicali congratulates the German as he closes in on a fourth world championship

Vettel could win title at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix to join Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio and Alain Prost in winning four drivers' championships

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali has already offered his congratulations to Sebastian Vettel with the Red Bull driver on the brink of winning his fourth consecutive Formula One world title.

Vettel could seal his place in the sport's history books on Sunday with a victory in the Japanese Grand Prix, allied to Fernando Alonso finishing ninth or worse.

A run of four successive wins - with his latest in Korea on Sunday - and six in the last eight races overall, have propelled Vettel to a 77-point lead over Alonso with just 125 available.

Ferrari's Alonso now faces a mountainous task to catch the German, leading Domenicali to admit: "We need to be realistic.

"We know it is almost impossible to win the title, so congratulations to him (Vettel) and to what they (Red Bull) are doing because at the end of the day if they have that (the title) they deserve that.

"For now, it is an extra push and a motivation for our team to try to achieve the level of performance they were able to achieve."

Domenicali has conceded the result and performance of his team in Korea made it a painful experience.

Alonso could only finish sixth, his worst result since the Monaco Grand Prix in May, while team-mate Felipe Massa was ninth.

Naturally, Domenicali can only hope for an improvement heading into Sunday's race in Japan, which at this stage represents a 'last-chance saloon' for Alonso.

"It was not an easy weekend for us in Korea," said Domenicali.

"We saw some sign that would be the case on Friday. It was not really a weekend where we were competitive in terms of our race pace, as we were in Belgium, Monza and Singapore.

"Unfortunately, it was really quite a painful Sunday, particularly when you are always in traffic, unable to overtake.

"As we saw, we were pacing with the same lap time as the Sauber (Nico Hulkenberg) with our engine, and with the Mercedes, but Vettel and Lotus were too strong. That's a fact.

"So I hope it will be less painful this weekend, and we need to be positive inside.

"We have always said we should be there to take the opportunity in case Sebastian has a problem, but that was not the case on Sunday.

"Maybe this Sunday the situation will be better, and maybe a situation - sportingly of course - will happen to Vettel instead of to poor Mark (Webber). Then we will be getting closer."

PA

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