Vettel could snare championship Sunday
With his second straight Formula One championship nearly secured, Sebastian Vettel made a point of not changing his game plan for Sunday's Japanese Grand Prix.
The Red Bull driver needs only one point - or McLaren driver Jenson Button to fail to win - to become the sport's youngest two-title winner.
The 24-year-old German arrives in Japan having won his last three races in Belgium, Italy and Singapore and says being one point away from the title won't change his approach.
''I'm trying not to,'' Vettel said Thursday when asked if he'll change anything for Sunday's race. ''I don't think there is any reason to approach things differently. The target is to get the best out of ourselves and the car.''
Having won the last two races at Suzuka from pole position, Vettel has every reason to feel comfortable at the 3.7-mile track.
''Suzuka is one of my favorite tracks,'' Vettel said. ''It really couldn't have been built any better. I'm not the only one who loves this track and our car normally loves it, too.''
Still, with everything going his way, Vettel remained cautious.
''There is still a chance for Jenson Button to win or me not to win,'' Vettel said. ''We try all year to keep our feet on the ground and take it one race at a time.''
Vettel, who has won nine of 14 races this season, holds a 124-point lead over Button. His worst finish so far in 2011 is fourth, which came in the German Grand Prix in July.
Button, the only driver who stands in Vettel's way, was realistic about his chances.
''I think it's great that Sebastian thinks I have a chance,'' Button said. ''But really, it's all but over. Seb probably doesn't want to think about it until it's over. For me, I'd love to win here but I know that would be overshadowed by someone winning the championship.''
Vettel took his ninth win of the year at Singapore and has a chance to overtake Michael Schumacher for most wins in a single season. Only Schumacher has won more in a single season with 11 in 2002 and 13 in 2004.
With five races remaining, Vettel is also chasing down the record for the most pole positions in a season. He has 11 while Nigel Mansell snared 14 in 1992.
Eight drivers have won back-to-back titles. The last driver to do so was Fernando Alonso in 2005-06.
The Suzuka circuit has a wide variety of high-speed corners and fast changes of direction, and requires heavy braking for the chicane in the final corner. Many drivers, including Button, compare it to the Belgian Grand Prix's Spa circuit.
''We showed at Spa that we have a car that's very effective in high-speed corners,'' Button said. ''We've also improved our straight-line speed and we have a more efficient rear wing for qualifying, so I think we're feeling positive about the weekend.''