Sebastian Vettel keen to win F1 title this weekend
Wednesday 21 September 2011
Formula One leader Sebastian Vettel can win his second straight world title at this weekend's Singapore Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver leads the F1 standings by 112 points, and needs to earn only 13 more points than Fernando Alonso to secure the title with five races to spare. If Vettel wins at Marina Bay, Alonso would need to finish on the podium to keep his hopes alive.
Vettel was understandably coy about the likelihood of winning the title under the lights in Singapore, not wanting to jinx himself by saying out loud what everyone else had already assumed - the 2011 title is his.
"Looking to the championship, there is still some way to go," Vettel said. "We are in a very strong position, which we deserve because we've been working hard and made few mistakes.
"As long as we come out of the next race with a bigger lead then we started with, then we have done a good job, so let's see."
The seeming inevitability of a title for Vettel means the closing stages of the 2011 season will be something of an anticlimax compared to the unusually frequent number of nail-biting finishes in recent years. Four of the past five drivers' championships have been decided in the season's last race — the exception being Jenson Button's 2009 title with Brawn.
This year's dominance by Vettel is more akin to the utter dominance of Michael Schumacher when he was at Ferrari.
Still, the Singapore race is an event worthy of interest despite the lack of championship suspense.
As the only night race on the F1 calendar — and the longest in race time — the grand prix around the Marina Bay circuit is always a peculiar challenge.
In its three years so far, the event has been lucky enough to dodge rain, but showers are never far away in the tropical city-state, and the prospect of wet roads reflecting the overhead lights is something the drivers approach with apprehension.
Afternoon rain last year left the track still damp in spots, but is the glare from a fully wet track that concerns the drivers more than lack of tire grip.
"I love the track. It's very challenging. There are a lot of corners. It's very long, it's hot and it's a night race, so there are a lot of special things about Singapore," Vettel said. "The car seems to be very competitive there, so I hope we can go back there this year and win."
A new factor in Singapore, and all races, this year is the Drag Reduction System (DRS), which allows trailing cars to open their rear wings, reducing downforce, and make up ground on the car they are chasing.
That should, in theory, create more overtaking opportunities on a track where they have been in short supply, although the concrete barriers that hem in the circuit mean there is no margin for error on any overambitious overtaking attempts.
The safety-car driver usually has a busy night in Singapore, and DRS may have him putting in for overtime on Sunday.
"The addition of DRS means that we should expect some truly electrifying racing this weekend," McLaren team principal Martin Whitmarsh said. "The track is wide enough to support close and exciting wheel-to-wheel racing and I sincerely hope that's what we see this weekend."
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