Vettel not holding back in title run
Sebastian Vettel says he will not approach the season-ending Brazilian Grand Prix any differently from previous races, despite having a significant lead over Fernando Alonso in the Formula One drivers' championship.
Vettel said he doesn't plan to play it safe in Sao Paulo even though a fourth-place finish will be enough to secure the Red Bull driver his third-straight F1 title on Sunday (Monday NZT).
Vettel has a 13-point lead over the Ferrari driver, who said he will focus on a good finish at the Interlagos track before worrying about what Vettel is doing.
"Obviously we know that we are in a good position," Vettel said. "It's something we know but still we have to be sharp and ready to attack."
Vettel has finished fourth or better in the last six races. He won four in a row before a third-place finish in Abu Dhabi - when he started last - and a second-place finish last week in the United States.
"I think the secret is to take it as any other," the German driver said. "If you look in the calendar, Brazil is a race like every other one. You get the same amount of points and I think we are here to attack."
Vettel was second in Brazil last year, when he had already clinched the title, and won the race in Sao Paulo the previous year. Red Bull has won the last three races at Interlagos.
"I think the circuit seemed to suit our car in previous years," Vettel said. "I think we need to confirm it. So all eyes on Friday, to start the weekend, to get into the groove, but I think we can be as confident as we could in this stage. Obviously we know there is a lot ahead but we are in a great position."
If Vettel clinches the title, he will join Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as the only drivers to win three championships in a row. He also would be the youngest to do it, at age 25.
The 31-year-old Alonso, also seeking his third F1 title, said his goal is to try to have a "normal weekend" and not worry about Vettel too much. He said he needs a podium finish to guarantee enough points to overcome Vettel if the Red Bull driver runs into trouble at the tricky Interlagos track.
"Obviously it will be good to be in the podium and score a minimum 15 points and then when we cross the line we see where Sebastian is and we try to do some numbers after that," the Spaniard said. "The first priority for us is to be in the podium ... then we need to wait for the results from Red Bull."
Alonso said that coming into the weekend behind in the points takes some of the pressure off the team.
"It is not in our hands, we have not much to lose," he said. "We have only the possibility to win something and we will try to do our best," he said.
"This is a sport and anything can happen until the checkered flag so we will try to do the best race we can," Alonso added. "If we win, we will be very happy but we know that we need some strange combination of results. If we don't win, we will congratulate him and we will try next year. Nothing really surprising."
Alonso won both of his championships at Interlagos in 2005 and '06. He was in a good position to win his third at the season-ending race in Abu Dhabi in 2010, but relinquished the points lead and Vettel ended up winning the title.
This year's Brazilian GP will mark Lewis Hamilton's last race with McLaren before joining Mercedes in 2013, and will put an end to Schumacher's career for the second time. The seven-time world champion retired in 2006 and returned in 2010, but has struggled in his three years with Mercedes since then.
"I'll just take the best out of it and enjoy it as much as I can," Schumacher said.
Out of contention, he will probably be supporting fellow countryman Vettel as the title fight comes to an end.
"We've been friends for a long time and I sort of follow his career into Formula One and seeing him doing so well, obviously makes me proud," Schumacher said. "To see from where he started to end up and kind of being dominant for quite a while recently, that's quite an achievement."