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Pre-Korea analysis - pride at stake in hunt for wins 14 Oct 2011

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Korean Grand Prix, Preparations, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Thursday, 13 October 2011 Jenson Button (GBR) McLaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Korean Grand Prix, Preparations, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Thursday, 13 October 2011 Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren. 
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Korean Grand Prix, Preparations, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Thursday, 13 October 2011 Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 16, Korean Grand Prix, Practice Day, Korea International Circuit, Yeongam, South Korea, Friday, 14 October 2011 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 9 October 2011

Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel might be the back-to-back world champion, but that has done nothing to quell his hunger, and none of the top five drivers in the points standings will be taking it easy for the remaining races. That’s the great news for race fans from Korea, and the India, Abu Dhabi and Brazil.

“We got beaten by Jenson and Fernando,” Vettel says of the recent Japanese race that saw him crowned again. “We would have loved to win, but we are out again this weekend and try to get another win. Surely the championship in that regard is decided bit it doesn't change anything to our approach really.”

Having done so well in Suzuka, Jenson Button is also hungry for more, and believes that McLaren are now a match for Red Bull anywhere. "I think our car works well on high-speed circuits and it's good to see that because that was a weakness of ours if you compare us with Red Bull. At high-speed corners we were always looking at them and going, 'How the hell are they doing that?' Then we went to Spa and we were very competitive. And it was the same thing in Suzuka.

"Our car worked very well there, and in the first sector of the lap we were actually quicker than the Red Bulls for the first time in three years. So I think our car is generally competitive in high-speed circuits, and the next races are going to be fun."

While he’s looking for more of the same, team mate Lewis Hamilton still seeks fresh success and a bit of redemption.

“I think it's a combination of things,” he says of his recent problems. “I put most of it down to myself and of course, there are times that you find yourself a little bit unfortunate but whether it could be a yellow flag or something like that or traffic, it's not really any excuse, we all have to do it, we all have to do the job. Others are able to do it, so I think it's just been a lack of some pace, a lack of some being in the right place at the right time so that's what we're working towards improving.

“I always come back and give it another shot and hope for a better result. I've prepared myself in the best way I can here, and clearly Jenson showed that we're competitive, so I think that if he can do it then I can do it, so I really need to get on with things this weekend. Hopefully we will have our timing a little bit better in qualifying and get our second run in and hopefully we will be able to compete with here.”

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, meanwhile, says he plans to enjoy himself now that the title chase pressure is off.

“The goal is to try to win one race if possible. We know it will be difficult. Red Bull will remain favourites for the remaining races. McLaren are very strong at this part of the championship as well, so we know it is going to be difficult. But we will try every Sunday, we will try to enjoy racing, with obviously not the pressure of the championship position or whatever, as I think finishing, second, third or fifth in the drivers' championship is not a big difference.

“Once you cannot be world champion it is not any more a big interest on that. So, try and enjoy racing like we did at Suzuka last weekend, when you can be aggressive on the starts, you can play a little bit with the strategy. We can enjoy Sundays, try do good races, maximise the potential of the car and if we do that then we know a podium is very possible and as I said if there is one opportunity to win one of the remaining Grands Prix, we try to take it.”

Finally, Mark Webber would dearly love to salvage something and win a race in 2011. “I’m looking forward to being right in the mix for the win,” he says. “It’s the second year we will go to Korea and it will be interesting to see if the track surface has changed over the winter at all.”

So yes, the world championship might be settled, but the great thing is that all of these men are racers to whom victory is a matter of pride, and all of them will still be fighting to win.

David Tremayne

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