German guns for quadruple to hunt down leader

In a sport where speed is of the essence, Sebastian Vettel is bouncing back to form in double quick time.

After losing his Formula One drivers' crown last year, when he was on a hot streak of four consecutive titles, the German made a dramatic switch from Red Bull to Ferrari this season.

It seems to have done the trick, as Vettel took pole position yesterday during qualifying for the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix, clocking a flying lap of 1min 43.885sec and gaining a huge psychological boost as five of the previous winners had triumphed after starting first on the grid.

"It felt like good luck," he said, flashing a wide grin.

And it showed as he yelled and whooped on the team radio after the chequered flag.

Still the driver with the most wins - three - at the Marina Bay Street Circuit, his performances this season have gone a long way in erasing a dreadful 2014 season.

Then, he slumped to fifth in the drivers' championship without a single win. And for the first time since his debut in 2007, he finished lower than a team-mate, as his 167 points paled in comparison with rookie Daniel Ricciardo's 238.

However, at the F1 Pit Building this past week, Vettel seems to have regained much of his easy-going confidence.

"The car seems to work; other than that, I think we can still improve," he said. "The pace seems to be there but there is margin to improve. But I'm sure the Mercedes (cars) will be quick. It will be a tough job tomorrow."

With the championship reaching its final straight with just six races remaining after tonight's, the 28-year-old is relying on an all-out attack to make up ground on title leader Lewis Hamilton.

"The goal in the championship is maximum attack," said Vettel. "As long as the chance is there, we need to try and make everything possible that we can try and do.

"But, being realistic, Lewis is now in a very good position."

While Vettel envies the resources Mercedes accord Hamilton and the reliability of the Briton's Silver Arrow, he knows he has been there before during his all-conquering years at Red Bull and is focused on getting the most out of his Ferrari.

And true to the stereotype of a meticulous and efficient German, he has handwritten notes stuck in his cockpit.

"Top secret!" he said with a laugh.

"Sometimes, it's good to write things down. It's just things about the car so that you don't forget."

Now full of fire and form, he will want to pick up the pen again tonight - to write himself into the history books as the winner of four Singapore races.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on September 20, 2015, with the headline 'German guns for quadruple to hunt down leader'. Print Edition | Subscribe