Vettel’s rivals give up on 2011 title

All four of Sebastian Vettel’s championship rivals on Sunday said the fight for the drivers’ title is now over.

Ferrari’s Felipe Massa is already mathematically out of the hunt, but according to the calculator his teammate Fernando Alonso, as well as the McLaren drivers Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton, along with Mark Webber, could all still win.

Alonso is the best placed, with a 112 point deficit. That means that if Vettel wins in Singapore with the Spaniard is fourth, the Red Bull driver will secure his second consecutive world championship with five races to spare.

“Obviously the championship is impossible,” said Alonso after sharing the Monza podium with Vettel. “Not mathematically but we are no longer in contention.”

Agreed Red Bull’s Webber: “It’s all over now, isn’t it mate? I think the rest of us are all battling for second place now.”

Hamilton added: “I doubt it’s still possible to beat Sebastian for the title, but we’ll keep pushing.”

And Button said: “Yes, it (the title) is gone and it has been for a few races.”

Other F1 drivers, like Michael Schumacher, feel the same way. “I don’t see many ways that he (Vettel) can lose, but you still have to bring it to the end.”

And Ferrari team boss Stefano Domenicali said: “It’s perfectly clear that it (the title) is in Sebastian’s hands.”

Brazilian Massa added: “The only way he can lose is if he doesn’t come to the races any more.”

Vettel however smiled that he will be attending the final ‘flyaway’ portion of the 2011 calendar. “I’m contracted to do all the races, so maybe you need a word with Christian (Horner)!” he told a reporter.

But the 24-year-old German insisted that he has no plans to put the champagne on ice just yet.

“I think we just do Singapore as we did all the other races this year. Go there and take it step-by-step and see what we can do,” he said.

And he told Bild newspaper that he will not be exercising his calculator on the flight to Asia. “Maths has never been my strength,” Vettel grinned.

Red Bull’s Dr Helmut Marko, too, insists he is in no rush.

“(Winning the title in) Singapore or Japan would be fine, but I would probably prefer Korea,” he told F1’s official website. “After that disastrous weekend we experienced there last year it would be a sort of compensation.”

As for the others, their hopes have now turned to 2012.

“Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull have a great advantage with their exhaust blowing, but next year it will be banned and so we hope things change,” McLaren test driver Pedro de la Rosa told EFE news agency.

“I have to say Vettel is driving flawlessly, perfectly, so we should not detract from that,” he added.