Street fighter Vettel squares up to brawler Alonso in title race

Sebastian Vettel on the podium after winning the Singapore Grand Prix during the Singapore Formula One Grand Prix at the Marina Bay Street Circuit on September 23, 2012 in Singapore, Singapore.

Sebastian Vettel on the podium after winning the Singapore GP

Sep.24 (Reuters) Sebastian Vettel displayed all the guts and determination of a world champion to haul himself back into the Formula One title race with a Singapore victory that sets up a mouth-watering finale to the season.

Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday 23 September 2012.Vettel kept his focus to win a “killer” race that ran for a full two hours on a balmy Sunday evening, enabling the German to cut championship leader Fernando Alonso’s advantage to 29 points with six rounds remaining as he seeks a hat-trick of crowns.

To say the title showdown has come down to a duel between Vettel’s Red Bull and Alonso’s Ferrari could be premature given the topsy-turvy nature of this season but while both men have bemoaned a lack of pace, they make up for it in consistency.

Alonso has spent all season claiming that his car is not competitive, yet he has forged ahead by picking up big points from average positions on the grid, a feat he repeated in Singapore by finishing third after starting fifth.

“On track, we manage to make the most of what we have, making few or no mistakes, thanks to great work from the team,” Alonso told reporters after chasing home Vettel and McLaren’s Jenson Button.

“For that alone we deserve to be where we are in the classification. Today, we pulled out an advantage over three of our four main competitors, which is positive.”

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates his win with the team. Formula One World Championship, Rd14, Singapore Grand Prix, Race, Marina Bay Street Circuit, Singapore, Sunday 23 September 2012.

Vettel cut a forlorn figure after an erratic race in Monza two weeks ago ended prematurely with an alternator failure, leaving many observers to doubt whether the German had the desire or the vehicle to mount a serious title challenge.

However, his demeanor had changed by Sunday after a polished drive backed up his domination in practice as both he and Alonso benefited from another failure for Lewis Hamilton, who has offset three wins with three retirements in the last eight races.

All season long, McLaren’s rivals have claimed that the British car was the most competitive yet Hamilton’s challenge took a body blow on Sunday when he surrendered a comfortable lead on the 23rd lap with a gearbox failure, to end the day 52 points behind Alonso.

“A tremendous result for Sebastian and the team to win in Singapore. It’s a timely win for both championships,” Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said.

“It was unfortunate for Lewis to retire from the lead, we know how that feels and it’s never a good feeling.

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing “Nonetheless, Sebastian had tremendous pace all weekend and it’s a shame in some respects, as I’m sure they’d have had a great race over the remainder of the grand prix.”

Kimi Raikkonen also lost ground in Singapore as his Lotus proved unresponsive on the tight street circuit with his sixth-place finish dropping him 45 points off the sharp end as he still searches for a first victory in his comeback season.

The teams now head to Suzuka for the Japanese Grand Prix on Oct. 7 and while the circuit is a sweeping tribute to near-perfect track design, the title contenders have only one thing on their minds – to finish in the points.

“[The championship situation] looks better than before,” Vettel said after collecting his 23rd career victory.

“Fernando finished third and it’s 10 points better than before. There are a lot of races left, and it’s difficult to predict what is going to happen but we have to make sure we finish the races.

“The pace is there and even if we are not quick enough to win – we have to make sure we do that. It is a tough championship so far but we are still in it.”

Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali expects the team to make incremental improvements to the car over the final races of the season but ruled out making drastic changes.

“There are six grands prix to go to the end of the season and clearly, we need to make a step forward in terms of performance, because we cannot rely purely on the misfortune of others,” he said.

“Where we need to improve a lot is on circuits that require maximum aerodynamic downforce. Having said that, we mustn’t over-react as it’s better to bring a few updates that work rather than bringing in too many [that don't].”

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  • fools

    Alonso should do well in Japan. High speed track and Ferrari are much faster top speed wise then ever right now. I seek win or podium for Alonso. I think McLaren are well suited for Japan. Button loves Japan. Expect his gf to give him a up lifter coming into that GP. lol

  • Alonso_is_slow

    You are as fool as usual, there is a major difference between a high-speed stop-go track like monza and canada and a high-speed curve track like suzuka and silverstone. Ferrari is going to struggle.

    False hope for you and Alonso.

    Alonso already knows that he cannot win the title by a further series of luck.

    But it is too late. Almost all coming tracks are red-bull tracks.

    I will love this.

  • Tg

    Its all shit

  • GPFanatic

    @fools

    Yes, Ferrari would do well in Japan, but I think this would be Kimi’s first victory as the track is a sweeping high speed with almost no speed traps. This would suit the Lotus well..

  • Butterfly

    @Alonso_is_slow:

    There’s no such thing as a Red Bull track, you moron. Back in 2010-2011 when their car had way too much downforce compared to the others, yes, they were wiping the floor with everybody else and there were “Red Bull tracks”, meaning, tracks at which that extra downforce was paying dividends. Now, however, the difference in downforce between Red Bull and, say, Ferrari or McLaren is *much* smaller, they may even be at a disadvantage.

    It’s just that the Ferrari has awful traction which showed in Singapore, but Suzuka will allow the red cars to stretch their legs.

    Let’s not forget who is leading the WDC. Also, let’s remember the Ferrari is the most reliable car on the grid, too. Fernando has a good chance to snatch Vettel’s title this year, though I’m sure Red Bull will keep the WCC trophy.

    You silly troll…

  • alonso_is_slow

    You tried to look very clever but your way of simplifyng things only proves that you are in fact simple minded.

    I will enjoy your crying.

    Fool alonso lover