Sebastian Vettel heads into the Indian Grand Prix in Delhi on Sunday knowing a victory will see him crowned as World Champion for the fourth successive year, which will etch his name into the record books, alongside some of the F1 greats.
Only two other men in Formula One history have won four consecutive Driver’s Championships. Juan Manuel Fangio did so between 1954 and 1957, plus fellow German, Michael Schumacher set the record with five straight title wins, between 2000 and 2004.
The 26-year-old only needs a fifth place finish to secure the title, and even a retirement, with Fernando Alonso finishing fifth or below, could see him crowned as champion. However, with victories in the last five races, the German looks hot favourite to swoop the title.
The reigning World Champion goes into the race in fine form, both for the season, and for the track. Since its inception in 2011, there has only ever been one winner of the race – Sebastian Vettel. After picking up the trophy for a first place finish last year, the Red Bull driver will be hoping to take it three wins in as many years.
Despite winning all three Indian Grand Prix’s, the German knows how difficult the track can be, talking to BBC Sport, he said: “It is not an easy track, because of a few complicated rhythm-breakers that are in there. 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.”
Second-placed Fernando Alonso, who conceded the title albeit verbally in Japan, believes that it is just a matter of time before Vettel secures his championship win, after bemoaning a lack of pace, to the Ferrari’s decline in performance. “We struggle a little bit to do so [match pace,]" he said, "So it is matter of time. We continue to try to do our best on Sundays. When it is mathematically settled we will congratulate him.”
According to an interview in the Indian Express, F1 boss Bernie Ecclestone states there is a serious question mark hanging over the long-term future of the Indian GP. The race has already been axed from the 2014 calendar with Ecclestone promising that it will be back in 2015 in an early-season slot. This, however, is far from certain.
Vettel, who is contracted to Red Bull until 2015 began his career at Sauber in 2006, before moving to Toro Rosso in 2008. After impressive displays throughout the season, he was rewarded with a move to Red Bull in 2009, replacing David Coulthard.
The championship leader has already surpassed his points tally from last season, as he sits on 297 points, five more than last year. Four victories in the final four races will see him rack up a massive 397 points for the title, which will be a new record. If he were to win, he would set a new record of nine consecutive race wins; the current record is seven wins, set by Michael Schumacher in 2004.
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