October 4, 2009 / 11:15 AM / 10 years ago

Vettel takes hope from Raikkonen's example

SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Sebastian Vettel held up Kimi Raikkonen as a shining example on Sunday of why Jenson Button should still feel uneasy about his Formula One championship chances.

Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates with team-mates while holding up the trophy after he won the Japanese F1 Grand Prix in Suzuka, central Japan October 4, 2009. REUTERS/Issei Kato

Ferrari’s Raikkonen won the 2007 title against the odds after winning the last two races of that season to make up a 17-point deficit on McLaren’s Lewis Hamilton.

Vettel’s commanding victory in Japan on Sunday left the Red Bull driver 16 points adrift of Briton Button with two races remaining.

Brawn’s Button crawled home unconvincingly in eighth place, his lead over Brazilian team mate Rubens Barrichello trimmed to 14 points.

The parallel was not lost on the 22-year-old German as he sat next to Hamilton in the post-race news conference at Suzuka.

“As I’ve said many times already, I will fight until the end, until the last breath,” he declared.

“I think our task from now on is pretty straightforward: we have to push ourselves to the maximum and try to win, get as many points as we can and everything else is not in our hands.

“You can ask the man sitting next to me, thinking two years back. I think Kimi had quite a big gap (to make up) with two races to go,” he added.

“Everyone said to Lewis it will not be a problem, sitting in one of the most competitive cars, just get a couple of points. But you can see sometimes ... that things just don’t work your way. Anything is possible.”


Vettel had not previously raced at Suzuka, the Honda-owned circuit making its return to the calendar after a two-year absence, but he never looked troubled as he led from pole position.

He had clear air ahead of him from the first corner, despite Hamilton pressing hard, and then pulled away. His only concern came when the safety car was deployed in the closing stages, with his advantage disappearing.

“I was screaming on the radio,” he said of his third win of the season.

“I think in the last couple of races it was a little bit up and down. Sometimes we had the pace, sometimes we didn’t and finally we made it. So it’s good to be back in first position also on a Sunday.”

The German raved about the circuit, one of the most challenging in Formula One.

“I came into the last lap and I was regretting a bit that it was over,” he said.

“This circuit is amazing. If you get 53 laps in a row you appreciate it even more. It is made by God’s hands, I would say.”

Editing by Peter Rutherford; To query or comment on this story email sportsfeedback@thomsonreuters.com

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