SAO PAULO (AP) - The Brazilian Grand Prix will do more than crown a Formula One champion on Sunday.
Vettel brings a 13-point lead into Brazil, meaning a fourth-place finish will be enough to give the 25-year-old Red Bull driver his third straight title. If that happens, Vettel will join Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio as the only drivers to win three championships in a row.
If Vettel is fourth and Alonso wins the race at the Interlagos track, both drivers will finish with 285 points, but the German will secure the title because he has more wins than Alonso _ five to three. Vettel has finished fourth or better in 13 of the 19 races so far, including the last six.
Alonso and Ferrari have not been able to match the recent success of Vettel, who earned four of his victories in the second half of the season, but the Spaniard has been consistent in the last races, finishing on the podium in six of the final seven events.
“We know it will be difficult for us, but we are confident,” Alonso said. “We must do our utmost, concentrating on ourselves and making no mistakes and then we can see what Vettel has done. It’s been a championship of highs and lows for everyone, but now we can only be perfect.”
Alonso, trying to add to his titles in 2005 and 2006, is hoping for a reversal of roles from the 2010 season-ending race in Abu Dhabi, when he was the one with a lead but came out empty-handed in the end.
“In 2010 the situation was reversed so I hope that once again the outcome goes in favor of the one who is behind at the moment,” he said. “I think we can sleep more easily than our rivals. We have a lot to gain and little to lose and for them it’s the opposite.”
Schumacher will be putting an end to his career again after three struggling years with Mercedes following his return from retirement. He is only 15th in the drivers’ championship this season.
Schumacher left F1 in 2006 after losing the title to Alonso at the finale in Interlagos, then returned to action in 2010 without managing more than a third-place finish, which was achieved at the European GP this season.
“My departure from Formula One will probably be less emotional for me this time than in 2006, when we were still fighting for the championship and everything was much more intense,” Schumacher said. “I will be able to pay more attention to my farewell and hopefully savor it too. I have had fantastic years in Formula One and a lot of support from fans around the world.”
“As my final race behind the wheel of a McLaren, I vow to the whole team that I’ll give it my all on every single lap,” he said. “My win in Austin last week was one of the races of my life, and I’d love to take victory in Brazil this weekend to give the team the perfect farewell present.”