Opportunity for Vettel, Red Bull to clinch titles in India
New Delhi, India (SportsNetwork.com) - It could be celebration time for Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull this weekend in India, as the champagne is ready to be put on ice.
Vettel is in great shape to clinch his fourth consecutive Formula One world championship, while his Red Bull team is on the brink of securing its fourth successive constructors' title.
Heading into Sunday's Indian Grand Prix, which is the 16th round in this year's 19-race calendar, Vettel holds an insurmountable 90-point lead over his closest competitor, Fernando Alonso from Ferrari.
Vettel will capture the championship if he finishes fifth or higher in the Indian GP, even if Alonso were to win the race. If Alonso finishes third or lower, Vettel will still claim the title, regardless of his result.
After India, F1 heads to Abu Dhabi (Nov. 3) and then Austin, Texas (Nov. 17) before the season wraps up in Brazil (Nov. 24).
The Red Bull driver has been unstoppable lately, winning the previous five grand prix -- Belgium, Italy, Singapore, Korea and Japan. Based on his previous performances in India, it's likely he'll collect his sixth victory in a row. He started on the pole and won the first two Indian GPs (2011-12).
On Friday, Vettel was quickest in each of the two practice sessions at Buddh International Circuit. His teammate, Mark Webber, was second fastest in both sessions.
Wherever Vettel clinches the title, he will become just the fourth driver in the history of the sport to win four championships. He'll also be the third to win four in a row, joining his German compatriot Michael Schumacher as well as Juan Manuel Fangio. Alain Prost had quadruple titles during his F1 career.
"To tell the truth, I am happy that I am on that list of champions at all," Vettel said. "It was almost unbelievable when I won the first title, as it was almost my dream, becoming Formula One world champion. But when you dream these things as a kid, the chances that it really happens are rather slim, and when you really do it, then it's hard to put it into words or emotions."
There are many scenarios for Red Bull in clinching the constructors' title in India. The team presently has 445 points for the season, compared to 297 for nearest rival Ferrari. If Vettel or Webber wins the Indian GP, then Red Bull will earned its fourth championship, regardless of what Ferrari does.
"I think that should we achieve a quadruple double-championship it would be an amazing feat for every single member of the team to achieve such results against such illustrious opposition," Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said. "But those thoughts really aren't in our minds at the moment. Our focus is very much on this event.
"The championship tables obviously look very healthy, but it's never done until it's mathematically impossible for anybody else to win. So the whole team's focus is very much on getting the most out of this weekend."
This 3.192-mile, 16-turn circuit is one of the most technically challenging tracks on the F1 calendar. It has the second-highest average speed of the year after Monza (Italian Grand Prix).
"It is not an easy track because of a few complicated rhythm-breakers that are in there," Vettel said. "The most difficult part is the uphill entry to turn 3, because seeing the apex is practically impossible. So to drive a perfect lap around the Buddh circuit, you need a good driving instinct.
"So far, everything has always gone perfectly for us in India. There is also a very nice trophy at the end of the race. So it would be great to hold one again this year. It's a circuit that I like, in a country that is very, very impressive every time we go there."
The last time a driver recorded six or more consecutive F1 grand prix wins was in 2004 when Schumacher scored seven in a row between the European and Hungarian GPs.
Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, Oct. 27. Race: Indian Grand Prix. Site: Buddh International Circuit. Track: 3.192-mile (5.124-kilometer), 16-turn road course. Start Time: 5:30 a.m. ET. Laps: 60. Miles: 191.52 (307.249 km). 2012 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: NBC Sports Network.
10/25 14:13:33 ET