Sebastian Vettel set for India coronation
Greater Noida: Sebastian Vettel looks set to join Formula One`s greats by sealing his fourth successive world title when he starts from pole position at the Indian Grand Prix on Sunday.
The Red Bull driver, who is on a five-race winning streak, only needs to finish fifth to become the youngest driver to annex the championship for four straight years.
And with four races left this season, the 26-year-old is a near-certainty to join Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as only the third man to achieve the feat.
Milton Keynes-based Red Bull are also expected to seal the `quadruple double` on Sunday by confirming their fourth constructors` title in a row.
Vettel has oozed class at Buddh International Circuit, setting record times in all three practice sessions and winning qualifying -- with another new fastest lap -- by a distance.
He is unbeaten in India after winning from pole position in 2011 and 2012. But Vettel said he was taking nothing for granted, despite being within touching distance of the world title.
"I`m trying not to think about it, obviously it`s difficult when every second person in the paddock is asking you the same question," he said.
"But I think we`ve done pretty well in the past focusing on every single step, and I don`t see a reason to change things for Sunday and the next couple of races."
Vettel has a 90-point advantage over Ferrari`s Fernando Alonso, who needs three wins and a second place in the last four races to win the title -- as long as Vettel fails to score another point.
But Alonso, who has already offered his congratulations to Vettel, did not do himself any favours by qualifying eighth to start on the fourth row alongside Nico Hulkenberg of Sauber.
Vettel is a huge fan of the Buddh circuit, which will not feature on the Formula One schedule next year -- although the Indian Grand Prix is slated to return in 2015.
Organisers will hope a smooth and successful race on Sunday will help the troubled race, which was also threatened by a court challenge this week, remain a fixture for the sport.
"It`s a great circuit," Vettel said. "I really like the flow of it, especially around the middle sector with the high-speed corners.
"If the car behaves the way you want it to through that section, you`re always going to enjoy it."
Mercedes are well-placed to finish on the podium after Nico Rosberg qualified second with team-mate Lewis Hamilton third, ahead of Red Bull`s Mark Webber in fourth.
"I am a little bit surprised to be where we are, but generally we have got the set-up together and hopefully we can stay ahead of the rest," Hamilton said.
While Vettel`s immediate concern is the championship, another win will also take him to 10 this year with three races left, and capable of matching Schumacher`s 2004 record of 13 victories.