YEONGAM, South Korea (AFP) - Sebastian Vettel jets off to one of his favourite circuits knowing he can seal a fourth world title in succession, but he insists he is not popping the champagne corks just yet.
The Red Bull man led from pole to chequered flag at Sunday's Korean Grand Prix, meaning he will retain his crown if he wins again this week and Fernando Alonso is not in the top eight.
But after another dominant victory - his fourth in as many races - in front of a modest crowd at Yeongam, the 26-year-old Vettel said: "No win is inevitable.
"Sure, there's some sort of expectation as things went so well in the immediate past and also because I like Suzuka a lot.
"But I would find it inappropriate to sort of bank on winning.
"Before a win there is work to be done and at the moment we are enjoying doing that work. Of course, that's also because we are on a fantastic run." The German was never seriously under threat on Sunday, although the appearance twice of the safety car and a fire truck coming onto the track did add some much-needed spice.
The fire truck was rushed out after Vettel's Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber was shunted off by Force India's Adrian Sutil and Webber's car promptly burst into flames.
Webber, in his final season in Formula One, clambered safely out, but there was consternation and confusion when the truck came onto the track and briefly led the field, before the safety car was deployed.
Asked what he thought when he saw the fire truck lumbering in front of him, Vettel said: "That hopefully nothing severe had happened.
"But then I saw Mark standing by his car - that indeed looked pitiful - and that was a relief." Vettel insisted the victory, four seconds ahead of Kimi Raikkonen, whose Lotus team-mate Romain Grosjean was in hot pursuit, was not straight forward.
Tyre manufacturer Pirelli was forced again to defend itself in Korea, with Alonso, Webber and Sergio Perez - whose tyre exploded - all voicing concerns.
In typical fashion, Webber did not pull any punches, while McLaren's Perez warned it was only a matter of time until they caused a serious accident.
Drivers have repeatedly railed at the Pirelli tyres this season, saying they are too fragile and potentially dangerous.
Vettel - whose tyre-management has been a key element of his title charge - said his Pirellis also threatened to ruin his race.
"I had a good view of my front tyres and the right tyre didn't look too healthy towards the end - that's why there was intense conversation with the team in that phase of the race," he said.
"It is always a bit of a nail-biter here with the right-front tyres, and even if the car feels great, you can never be too sure that it lasts." Vettel holds a huge 77-point lead over nearest challenger Alonso in the championship with five races to go, starting at the Japanese Grand Prix this weekend.
While Vettel has been the outstanding performer and has the best car, he has been helped by those chasing him, with no driver able to mount a sustained assault and all taking points off one another.
Two-time world champion Alonso saw his title bid all but dissolve as started fifth and came home in sixth. He warned that Ferrari can't expect "miracles" this year.
"It wasn't a surprise to be off the pace in qualifying, as that's been the case since the start of the season, but the fact that we didn't have the pace in the race was (a surprise)," he said.
The Spaniard, who will be joined at Ferrari next season by Raikkonen, added: "Now we must think only about Suzuka and try to get back on the podium, rediscovering the form we usually have on Sunday, that allows us to fight at the front.
"Vettel is a very long way off in terms of points, but above all in performance terms and we cannot expect miracles between now and the end of the championship."