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Pre-Japan analysis - Vettel and Button play down title talk 07 Oct 2011

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 6 October 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 6 October 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 6 October 2011 Jessica Michibata (JPN) with boyfriend Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 6 October 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing walks the circuit.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 6 October 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing fan.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 6 October 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 6 October 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 6 October 2011 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Preparations, Suzuka, Japan, Thursday, 6 October 2011

He needs a mere point, with five races left in the 2011 world championship fight, but still Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel on Thursday refused to acknowledge that he is all but home and dry. But McLaren’s Jenson Button, the last man standing who has a mathematical chance of stopping him, is the first to admit his is a very long shot that would have to rely on something pretty catastrophic befalling the young German.

Both are relaxed, Button perhaps even more so since nobody really thinks he’s going to pull off the miracle, and because he’s just re-signed for McLaren for what is almost certainly another three years.

“I thought I drove pretty well through my championship-winning season, especially the first part, but I’m definitely a better driver now,” the Englishman said. “The experiences that I’ve been through - good and bad - since then; it’s pretty traumatic when you’re fighting for a championship and you’re struggling for pace, so the experiences I’ve been through and the confidence that I have now and the team that I’m working with - they definitely help my performances.

“Am I more content? I don’t know. I’ve been pretty content over the last few years, in terms of racing and in terms of private life, so that’s not making a difference. You always want more. But all I can say is that I am very happy. I think this is a great opportunity over the next couple of years to really work closely with Vodafone McLaren Mercedes.

“We are so close to fighting with Red Bull, but yet so far. I think it is good to have the continuity going forward for the next couple of years. It is going to help us take the fight to them next season, I hope. That’s what we are working towards. It’s been a good couple of weeks. I have been enjoying racing and it is nice to finally sign on the dotted line and get a deal in place for the near future.”
In some ways, the odds here favour the 2009 champion, for he has finished all of his 11 races here, a remarkable record.

“I’d love to win here,” he reiterated. “It’s a circuit along with Spa and Monaco, they mean a lot to all of us. It’s such a challenge driving around here for one lap in qualifying, but putting every single lap together is a real challenge and doing it quicker than anybody else is a real challenge.

“Yes, it would mean a lot to me to win here at Suzuka. That’s our aim this weekend. Whether we are quick enough or not we will have to wait and see but we are in the hunt and I am looking forward to a fun weekend. Hopefully, we can get up there.”

He agreed that at times McLaren should have had the legs on Red Bull in recent races. “Sometimes I have felt that maybe we have had a little bit more performance but I don’t think we got the best out of what we had. The last race we weren’t quick enough to win.

“Sebastian and Red Bull did a great job. Even if you are a few seconds behind it doesn’t mean you had a chance of winning. Here it is a little bit more like Spa. Obviously it is probably higher downforce than around Spa but it is a flowing medium high-speed circuit. Our car worked well in Spa and hopefully it will be the same case here.”

Meanwhile, Vettel continued to maintain his trademark even strain, as everyone continued to ask him about ‘The Point’.

“Well, that’s what most of the people talk about and for them it’s over, but even if it’s one point, I said it straight after the race in Singapore and I still say the same thing even if people would like to hear something else. Even if it is one point we need to make sure we get it. If someone feels to do me a favour he can push Jenson down the stairs later on. That would help.” He laughed.

“I don’t think that’s the way we should think about it. We are in a very good position. I am looking forward to the race here. I think you just need to look at the first sector and life for us doesn’t get much better. It is great to be here. We have had a tremendous run the last two years so we try to do similar to that and hopefully we will have a good weekend.

“I don’t think there is any reason why I should approach it differently. The target we have going into this weekend is to get the best out of our car, the best out of ourselves.

“Obviously there’s still a chance for Jenson to win the title and for me not to win the title. We always try to keep our feet on the ground and approach this race by race, and try to do the best. The moment you decide to fly, sooner or later there’s a moment when you will come down as well. You have to, nothing flies forever.

“I think it would be wrong to think like that at this stage and as I said, the target going into this weekend is not to get one point, in a way it’s not to win the championship, the target is to do our best. If our best, for some reason, is tenth, then we try to get a tenth but if our best is possibly to win the race then we have to go for it and try to win.”

Then it was Button’s turn to laugh. “I think it’s great, Sebastian thinking that I have a chance of winning the title. He’s probably the only person here… or the only person that’s saying so. It’s all but over. I think for Sebastian, he probably doesn’t want to think about it until after the race because when the championship’s actually done it’s a big buzz to cross the finish line and win it and I’m sure that’s something that he’s looking forward to but he doesn’t want to think about right now, and especially to discuss with us lot here.

“For me, this is a circuit I’d love to win on. It’s all about the challenge and to come away with a victory here would be very special. I’m sure it would be overshadowed by a certain person winning the championship, but it would still be very enjoyable.”

David Tremayne

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