Vettel feat sets stage for final pushComment on this story
Sebastian Vettel said he felt like on a German highway, the Autobahn, during his fight from last to third at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix which gives him a chance to clinch a third straight Formula One title in his 100th career race in a fortnight.
“That could have been my most entertaining race. I passed so many cars, it was a little bit like on the Autobahn,” he told Monday's edition of the Bild paper.
The big comeback allowed the Red Bull driver to take 10-point lead over title rival Fernando Alonso of Ferrari into the last two races in the US on November 18 and Brazil a week later.
But Vettel's astonishing feat was just one of the major moments in arguably the most exciting race of the season with two safety car stages and plenty of wreckage.
Alonso himself deserved plenty of credit for his fight from sixth on the grid to second behind ex-champion Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus, who won his first race since returning to the sport this year from a two-year hiatus.
Spain's Alonso remained defiant about his title chances although Vettel can wrap up the title hat-trick in Austin, Texas, on November 18 if he gets 15 points more than his rival.
“A samurai works without hesitation ... until (he) completes the goal,” the Spaniard tweeted in his latest quotation of Japanese Samurai warrior wisdom.
However, he sounded a little more realistic right after the race.
“I'm confident. We will fight until the end. We are not fast enough, this is true and we are honest with ourselves, we know this. We need to accept this. It's a weak point,” Alonso said.
Alonso acknowledged the incredible feat of Vettel, who was demoted to the end of the grid over a fuel issue after originally qualifying third, whose comeback was helped a little bit by two safety car stages which brought the field together.
“He did a very good race ... I think there is nothing we can do, we just need to concentrate on our race and if we finish in front of Sebastian in the next two races then maybe we have a chance,” Alonso said.
Vettel actually had to work his way up twice, at the start and again after the first safety car stage after his front wing had to be replaced. He managed the podium three laps from the end by overtaking McLaren's Jenson Button.
“I think we knew that we had a chance to get into the top five, even with a normal race ... The speed was there, obviously here and there we were a little bit lucky, but I think we created our own luck in that regard,” Vettel said.
He added on his website that Sunday's result was the final proof that the title is now certainly possible.
“One thing is for sure. Third place wasn't only important for our position in the standings, but also for our self-belief. It showed that we can achieve great things - even then when things don't go to plan. And learning that is vital,” Vettel said.
Vettel also apologised for using offensive language in the post-race interview on the podium, when he seemed carried away by his achievement, but his statements were a mere footnote compared to Raikkonen's dry remarks.
“Leave me alone, I know what I am doing,” the Finn famously told the team a lap after he had inherited the lead from Lewis Hamilton who had to retire his McLaren with a technical problem.
He explained the statement after his 19th career win in similar fashion.
“I'm not so stupid that I cannot remember what I'm doing. It's a normal thing, they are just trying to help. I know what I'm doing. I will ask for help if I need it. It's not the first time and it won't be the last time,” Raikkonen said. -Sapa-dpa