Formula One: A very familiar feeling has begun to creep over Formula One fans of late as defending world champion Sebastian Vettel closes in on Fernando Alonso at the top of the driver standings.
Consecutive wins in Singapore and Japan coupled with Alonso’s retirement at Suzuka last Sunday have allowed the Red Bull driver to move within four points of the Ferrari man.
And with Vettel impressive in practise session two at Yeongam ahead of Sunday’s Korean grand prix — he finished first ahead of team-mate Mark Webber — there’s a growing sense that Red Bull and their two-time title winner are peaking at exactly the right time to set the German up for his third consecutive crown.
He said: “I think everyone is pushing very hard, and it’s not about winning me this title, it’s about winning the title for us.
“That’s our target and that’s why we’re all pushing so hard all the guys in Milton Keynes.”
McLaren’s Jenson Button also had a good run as he finished fourth in session two, while his departing collegue Lewis Hamilton overcame the embarrassment of his ill-advised Twitter rant to come first in session one.
And though Button feels his chances of the title are over, he is focused on doing his best to win the constructor’s championship for his team.
Button lies 63 points adrift of the driver’s standings summit with a maximum of 125 points remaining.
But in the constructors’ standings McLaren are second, 41 points behind Red Bull and still in with a real shot of securing a first team title since 1998.
Button said: “It’s 41 points, which is not massive at all. We didn’t have a great race (in Japan) and we only lost a couple of points, and we can claw that back in one race.
“That’s the great thing, if both Lewis and I get a good result and those two don’t. The constructors is definitely on and that’s the big aim, I think.”
In contrast Hamilton lies 42 points behind Alonso but could still win the world title if things go his way.
After a disappointing fifth place in Japan, the 27-year-old appears confident he will be more competitive in Sunday’s race, as proven by his impressive showing in practise one.
Current standings leader Alonso, meanwhile, insisted that he was focused solely on his own challenge.
After finishing third in practise two today he said: “It’s hard to say where we are compared to the others because today we focused mainly on ourselves, working this morning on a comparison of various ideas relating to car configuration and in the afternoon on the tyres.”
Alonso went on to discuss his concerns with the third sector of the circuit, which is composed almost entirely of corners.
In contrast sectors one and two boast several long straights, meaning that teams are forced to compromise when setting up their cars to cope with the differing challenges.
Yet despite the varying track, one thing is for sure — Vettel is closing on Alonso in the most uncompromising of manners, meaning that the latter can ill afford any further setbacks if he wants to deny the German a third straight title.
If you appreciated this article then please consider donating to the Morning Star's Fighting Fund to ensure we can keep developing your paper.