Vettel: No pressure to clinch title in Singapore

September 22, 2011 - 6:40 AM
Singapore F1 GP Auto Racing

Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany arrives at the paddock on the Marina Bay City Circuit for Sunday's Singapore Formula One Grand Prix in Singapore, Thursday, Sept. 22, 2011. (AP Photo/Terence Tan)

SINGAPORE (AP) — Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel is not feeling any pressure to clinch the Formula One title at the Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday, and said Thursday he will attack the race with his normal aggressive style.

Vettel is almost guaranteed of successfully defending his title, and if he takes 13 more points than Fernando Alonso in Singapore, he will win the championship with five races to go.

Given his dominance this season — winning eight of the 13 races and missing the podium only once — he could well clinch back-to-back titles beneath the Marina Bay lights.

"Would, should, could," Vettel said. "So far we have not won anything.

"Our target coming into the season was to defend our title. We are in a very good situation, so there is no reason to change that. It does not matter when, it matters to us that it happens," the German said. "I don't feel any extra pressure trying to win the championship here. We just have to remind ourselves what our goal was coming into the season."

Though he can afford to simply accumulate lower points rather than win races for the rest of the season, Vettel is intent on asserting himself on the track — he showed that in the previous race in Italy when he muscled his way past Alonso.

"It would be wrong to drive with the handbrake pulled, thinking 'I just have to finish,'" Vettel said. "If there is a chance and a gap, we have to go for it. If not, there is no reason to try something stupid."

In last year's Singapore GP, Vettel could not find a way past Alonso on the tight Marina Bay track, and the Ferrari driver hung on for victory.

Vettel has yet to win in Singapore, and said the race ranks as the most challenging of the season: the calendar's only night race; a bumpy and tight street circuit that allows no margin for error; a race time that flirts with the two-hour maximum; the heat and humidity of the city state. And that is not to mention the rain, which always threatens but had yet to hit over the first three years of the event.

Alonso's chance of catching Vettel exists more in the realm of mathematics than reality, and when the Ferrari driver was asked Thursday if he had given up hope of challenging for the title, he simply answered "Yes."

"In general he has been the best driver, and the best team and the best package, so they deserve to be where they are," Alonso said.

Still, the Spaniard believes Singapore represents a better-than-usual chance for a Ferrari win and adding to the team's solitary victory this season in Britain.

"Singapore is one of our best opportunities in the remaining races because the characteristics of the circuit are similar to Monte Carlo, where we were quite competitive there," Alonso said. "And we have the soft and the super soft tires, a combination that we like more. So it should be a good weekend for us, but victory is never easy, never close enough when we are fighting with Red Bull and McLaren."