Formula One: Title race not over till fat lady sings, says Sebastian Vettel

Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel of Germany speaks to media after qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix 2017, on Oct 7, 2017.
Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel of Germany speaks to media after qualifying at the Japanese Grand Prix 2017, on Oct 7, 2017.PHOTO: REUTERS

German four-time champion Vettel won't stop pushing title rival Hamilton in US race

AUSTIN (Texas) • Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel insisted he would not give up on the Formula One championship and found support from title favourite and rival Lewis Hamilton.

Hamilton leads the German by 59 points with four races left and the Mercedes driver can take his fourth championship in tomorrow's United States Grand Prix if he finishes in the top two and results go his way.

The Briton, who leads the standings on 306 points, will need to outscore Vettel by only 16 points to clinch the title.

"In English, they say it's not over until the fat lady sings," Vettel told reporters in Austin.

"We need to make sure she shuts up for quite a while."

The Ferrari driver had led the championship from the opening race in Australia in March until last month but three races in Asia and Hamilton's string of wins have shredded his chances.

Vettel was caught in a collision with team-mate Kimi Raikkonen in Singapore and crashed out on the opening lap, then suffered an engine failure in qualifying in Malaysia that left him last on the grid.

He raced back to fourth that time but in Japan was sidelined by a broken spark plug.

"We are still in there, our chances are slimmer than they have been some races ago. There is a chance. We're going for it," said the defiant four-time world champion.

"We need to stay focused. We have a great car, we had a package to win the last couple of races. As it happens, we didn't. But that doesn't mean we have no chance to win the next races."

Hamilton, who has won in Austin four times in the last five years, said talk of him wrapping up the title in Texas - as he did two years ago - was overblown.

"I think the talk of the championship win this weekend is silly really... you can't expect them to have a difficult weekend again," he said.

"They're going to be quick, they have an opportunity to win. The championship, as long as it's done in the next four races, that's my focus. I honestly couldn't care less if it's here or the last race, as long as it's done."

Hamilton also expected Ferrari to bring some sort of upgrade to Austin.

"They've definitely had a couple of hiccups but I anticipate they'll be very strong this weekend and for the last four races - so that's why nothing changes for me," he added.

The Briton also said that if he ends up not sealing the title in Austin, he would be happy postponing his celebrations to the next race in Mexico.

"I'm looking forward to going to Mexico as you can always feel the love and the support there. It is an awesome event to go to and it is growing every year," he said.

"Winning is the goal and all my drive and energy goes on that mission. I don't mind where it happens - here or Mexico or Abu Dhabi.

"In Mexico, they know how to celebrate and so I'll get a sombrero and party if it happens there."

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

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A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2017, with the headline 'Title race not over till fat lady sings: Vettel'. Print Edition | Subscribe