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Vettel ready to clinch F1 title in Japan

Suzuka, Japan (Sports Network) - Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, October 9. Race: Japanese Grand Prix. Site: Suzuka Circuit. Track: 5.807 km (3.641 miles), 18-turn road course. Start Time: 2:00 a.m. (et). Laps: 53. Miles: 191.117. 2010 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: Speed.

What are the odds of Sebastian Vettel clinching his second straight Formula One world championship in Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix?

Very high.

All Vettel has to do is score a single point in any one of the five remaining grand prix on this year's calendar. The top-10 finishing positions in a F1 race award points.

Even if the Red Bull driver were to finish 11th or worse in the last five grand prix, his closest competitor in points, Jenson Button from McLaren, would have to win all of those races.

Right now, Vettel holds a 124-point lead over Button. Vettel has won nine of the first 14 races this season, including the last three. His worst finish so far in 2011 is fourth, which came in the July 24 German Grand Prix.

"Obviously with the races that we've had so far, it should not be a big problem, but it's over when it's over and not before," Vettel said. "Statistically, the chances are on our side, but generally in sports, there have been a lot of stories written, and this one also has to wait to be closed first."

By the way, Vettel has won the last two Japanese GPs from the pole position.

Many F1 drivers consider the 2.641-mile (5.807-kilometer) Suzuka Circuit to be their favorite track on the calendar. Teams are also eager to return to Japan and show their support for the people in wake of the devastating earthquake and tsunami that struck the country earlier this year.

"The fans in Japan are special," Vettel said. "What they have been through in recent times is something I cannot begin to imagine, but they are so impressive. They are extremely patient and always polite and friendly and their stamina is amazing. I hope we can put on a good show for them this weekend."

Button heads to Japan after signing a new multi-year contract with McLaren. He won the F1 championship with Brawn GP in 2009 and then moved over to McLaren the following year.

"I've never felt more at home at a team than I do at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes," Button said in a team statement. "I've won four of the greatest races of my life here. I'm currently lying second in the drivers' world championship, and I feel that I'm driving better than ever. You can only achieve that with the right level of support, and I truly believe that the passion and determination to win are stronger here at Vodafone McLaren Mercedes than anywhere else."

Button has two wins so far this year and is presently 17 points ahead of teammate and 2008 titleholder Lewis Hamilton.

10/05 14:01:39 ET


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