It’s lonely at the top for champion Vettel

Vettel wins in Korea
Vettel wins in Korea

Sebastian Vettel is refusing to get complacent about winning his fourth title despite extending his championship lead to 77 points on Sunday.

His victory in the Korean Grand Prix, his third in a row at the Yeongam circuit, twinned with title rival Fernando Alonso’s sixth place finish mean Vettel could win his fourth crown at the next round in Suzuka, Japan, this weekend.

“There are a lot of points to get, even though it looks very good for us.

“There’s still a chance for Fernando, so we have to stay on top of our game.

“We’re just focusing on continuing to take one step at a time and trying to get the best out of the car at every single race.”

In order to clinch the championship in Japan, Vettel has to win, with Alonso finishing no higher than ninth at a circuit he retired at this time last season.

Vettel’s cruise to his fourth consecutive race win on Sunday was yet another sign of his, and Tilbrook-based Red Bull Racing’s dominance this year.

He has won more than half of the 14 races this season - eight so far - including all four since the summer break.

And his romp to the Korean Grand Prix chequered flag was as routine as they come.

After securing pole position over Lewis Hamilton, Vettel opened a two second lead on the first lap as the pack battled it out behind him.

His first stop for tyres was seamless as he emerged down the order, but remained ahead of race rivals Romain Grosjean and Lewis Hamilton who had stopped earlier.

As he opened the gap up further on new Pirelli tyres, it looked like another foregone conclusion.

But a catastrophic tyre failure for McLaren’s Sergio Perez brought out the safety car, wiping out Vettel’s lead.

Fortunately for him though, he was able to pit for new rubber before picking up the safety car, allowing him to get in and out still in the lead.

After the restart, and another safety car period shortly afterwards caused by team-mate Mark Webber’s fire, Vettel cruised to his 34th career victory.

“It was a long race today,” he said. “But it’s really great to win.

“The start was crucial, it’s always tricky here as you’re nervous about the long straight when you start from pole.

“Fortunately we had good traction off the line and I had a strong exit out of the first corner. We kept the lead and tried to control the race from there.

“I think Mercedes had more range than us today, but we were able to win which is great.

“It was a very strong performance from the whole team and I’m happy.

Vettel leads the way with 272 points over Alonso with 195.