The Buddh International Circuit (BIC) here on Thursday was abuzz with the natter of Formula One buffs discussing Sebastian Vettel’s imminent coronation as the world champion for the fourth time on the bounce.
The Red Bull driver, who has a whopping 90-point lead over his immediate challenger, Fernando Alonso of Ferrari, in the Drivers’ Championship, needs to finish in the top five in the Indian Grand Prix on October 27 to win the world title and also claim ownership of a few significant records.
A victory here would make Vettel, 26, the youngest quadruple champion in the history of the sport; it would also place him alongside eminent F1 personalities as Michael Schumacher, Juan Manuel Fangio and Alain Prost as drivers who have won four or more world titles.
The German would also become only the third driver to win four world titles in succession — after Fangio and Schumacher (he won five in-a-row).
So, the stage seems perfectly set and the task not all too cumbersome for Vettel. But the three-time world champion was slightly agitated when somebody at a news conference recently suggested that finishing fifth in India was an easy task for him. “Why is it that people always underestimate races? Nothing is easy — not even P5 — and nothing comes for free. There is always a huge amount of work involved. And it is never our style to say, ‘Well, let’s focus on finishing fifth’,” said Vettel, who has won both the races held at the BIC so far, the first in 2011 with a Grand Chelem (starting from the pole, leading every lap of the race, posting the fastest lap timing and winning the race).
Maximum is the target
This day, Vettel sounded a bit mellow while talking of the job at hand. “Obviously, it is looking pretty good. We will focus on the job on the weekend and our target will be to get the maximum in the race as well as the championship,” he said.
Meanwhile, Alonso has already thrown in the towel, saying it is a done deal and it was only a matter of time before Vettel wins his fourth successive title.
This being the scenario, the other frontline drivers are on a mission to beat Vettel at the BIC and halt his run of victories that started in Belgium after the summer break.
“Well, I am here to do that (halt Vettel), that’s for sure. If we really get everything right on the weekend, it is possible to beat Vettel and Mark (Webber) in that car,” said Nico Rosberg of Mercedes.
As for Kimi Raikkonen, who is third in the drivers’ standings, he was of the view that the key to challenging Vettel in the Indian grand Prix was the qualifiers. “I think I have to do a bit better in qualifying. That would help a lot. That would give ourselves a good chance then to try to beat Red Bull. It’s not just only them though, so we’ll see what happens,” the Finn drawled off.
However, given Vettel’s unremitting run in the last five races, it’s highly unlikely that the BIC will see a new champion this year too.