Sebastian Vettel’s championship aspirations remain undiminished despite seeing Lewis Hamilton take a conclusive lead in the past two races, with thirty-four points between them with only five rounds remaining.
A first lap retirement in Singapore for the Scuderia Ferrari driver was followed by an engine issue during qualifying in Malaysia last weekend, and although he climbed through the field to finish fourth, he still lost ground to Hamilton.
But Vettel heads to the Suzuka International Racing Course this weekend expecting a much more competitive weekend this season in Japan than they’ve had in the last few years, and it would be the perfect opportunity to start clawing down his deficit to Hamilton.
“I believe we still have a chance,” said Vettel, “and I want to be sure we’re going to use it. We’ve been looking at the issues we had in our cars and I think we have a pretty good understanding of them.
“But the process is still ongoing in order to get the big picture of what happened. At least it’s nice to hear that the gearbox should be OK after the accident on the slow-down lap at Sepang.
“As for this weekend in Japan, in the last two years we have not been competitive enough here, but this year it may be different; I am fairly open minded, but I’m convinced that we have a strong package.
“There are five races to go in the championship and we are behind in the points standings: the final outcome will also depend on what our competitors do.”