F1: Vettel heads to Japan with momentum
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - After winning last week's Singapore Grand Prix, Red Bull driver Sebastian Vettel put himself right back in the hunt for the Formula One world championship.
Vettel, who is seeking his third consecutive title, benefited from Lewis Hamilton's gearbox failure early in the race and then held off Hamilton's McLaren teammate, Jenson Button, after two restarts to win in Singapore for the second year in a row. Vettel moved up to second in the driver's standings. He is 29 points behind leader Fernando Alonso from Ferrari. Alonso finished third in Singapore.
Third through fifth in points right now are: Kimi Raikkonen from Lotus (-45), Hamilton (-52) and Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber (-62).
F1 now heads to Suzuka, Japan for the 15th round in the 20-grand prix schedule this year.
Alonso has not won a race since the July 22 German Grand Prix but has kept a somewhat comfortable points lead due to Vettel and Hamilton's misfortunes in previous grand prix.
"In Monza (Italian Grand Prix), it was Lewis winning the race and Sebastian retired, and (in Singapore) it was Sebastian winning and Lewis retiring, so for me, it's okay if they keep doing it like this," Alonso said.
But let's not forget what happened in 2010. With two races to go, Alonso held a 25-point lead over Vettel, but Vettel won both the penultimate event in Brazil and then the season-finale in Abu Dhabi to beat Alonso for the title by four points.
Could history repeat itself in F1?
"I don't think Fernando would be too happy if it happened again in the last race," Vettel said. "It's an incredible season for all of us, and we have a lot of races left. The car seems to be competitive, and we just have to use the momentum and keep pushing for these last races and see what happens."
Last year, Vettel clinched his second straight F1 title with a third-place finish in the Japanese Grand Prix. He entered the race needing only one point to secure the championship.
"I love the Suzuka circuit," he said. "I wish I had won in 2011. It was my third Formula One race on my favorite track, and it still bothers me a bit that I took my world title with a third place."
Alonso and Vettel have both won the Japanese GP twice. Alonso's victories came in 2006 and '08. Vettel scored back-to-back wins in Japan from 2009-10. Button is the defending race winner.
"Suzuka is definitely a circuit that puts hair on your chest," Button said. "It's extremely uncompromising, like a street circuit. It doesn't allow for a single mistake, punishing you for putting a wheel wrong at almost every point on the circuit. It's also extremely quick."
Button trails Alonso by a distant 75 points. He finished second in the Singapore GP.
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, Oct. 7. Race: Japanese Grand Prix. Site: Suzuka Circuit. Track: 3.608-mile (5.807-kilometer), 18-turn road course. Start Time: 2 a.m. (et). Laps: 53. Miles: 191.117 (307.771 km). 2011 Winner: Jenson Button. Television: Speed.
10/02 19:23:04 ET