Ferrari backing Vettel to the hilt

Rafael Nadal of Spain stretching deep for a return during his dominant quarter-final win over Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland at the Shanghai Masters yesterday.
Rafael Nadal of Spain stretching deep for a return during his dominant quarter-final win over Stanislas Wawrinka of Switzerland at the Shanghai Masters yesterday. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

LONDON • Sebastian Vettel has an outside chance of winning the Formula One drivers' title this season. And his Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen will make every effort to ensure that the German has a clear run to the finish.

According to autosport.com, Raikkonen has revealed that he would even obey team orders to help Vettel keep his title hopes alive.

Vettel finished second in last weekend's Russian Grand Prix to become championship leader Lewis Hamilton's closest challenger.

However, he is 66 points adrift of the Mercedes driver with a maximum of 100 remaining.

Raikkonen is out of contention for the title as he lies 179 points behind Hamilton.

"We know what are the rules," said Raikkonen. "I'm not in the championship fight and if it comes to that it's fine.

"It's a normal thing, we try to make the maximum for the team. He (Vettel) is still in a fight, so there are no issues."

Raikkonen overtook Vettel at the start in Russia, but Ferrari's team bosses did not intervene and let the pair fight it out.

Vettel eventually got the better of his team-mate, though the pair did go agonisingly close to touching.

Ferrari team boss Maurizio Arrivabene said he had no intention of asking Raikkonen to relent in order to help Vettel get the best result, but hinted that may change as the season draws to a close.

There are four races remaining, starting with the United States Grand Prix on Oct 25.

"We were happy to leave it like it was," he said. "We were not considering the championship at that part of the race and then they swopped positions by themselves. There's no need at that time ( to intervene).

"Of course when we have a need, we will reconsider the situation differently."

When asked if Ferrari would start employing team orders at the US Grand Prix in Texas, Arrivabene said: "Our approach is going to remain the same. We will tell you in Austin what we are going to do."

The Italian team have scented a chance since Vettel overhauled Mercedes' Nico Rosberg (currently lying seven points behind Vettel) at the Russian Grand Prix.

"Going by the numbers, Seb can make it," said Arrivabene. "But we need to be humble and concentrate race by race and then we will see. The door is still open."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 17, 2015, with the headline 'Ferrari backing Vettel to the hilt'. Print Edition | Subscribe