MONZA, ITALY (AP) - It is more a question of when, rather than if, Sebastian Vettel will win a fourth straight Formula One championship.
Two races and two wins later, Vettel is so far ahead of both that the guessing game now is at which of the seven remaining races will he wrap up the title.
“I don’t go for predictions. I go for facts, and fact is that mathematically a number of scenarios are still possible,” Vettel said.
Only a monumental collapse by Vettel will give either a chance of catching him. Given that the German has won three of the past four races, that seems unlikely.
Alonso seemed to be clinging to fading hope, saying “in a way, it was exactly the same last year.”
But Red Bull is more reliable than Ferrari was last season, and much faster. Also, Vettel has reached the podium in six of the past seven races _ and failed to score points in only five of the past 51.
The race in Singapore in two weeks is more likely to have a bearing on who finishes the championship in second and third.
Ferrari still has to decide its driver lineup for next season, however, with Felipe Massa under pressure to keep his seat. His aggressive driving on Sunday boosted his chances.
Hamilton also needs to bounce back from what he called “a disaster of a weekend.”
It started with 12th place in qualifying _ by far his worst of the season _ and a slow puncture sustained in the first chicane, coupled with a failing race radio.
“I didn’t know what … was going on,” Hamilton said. “You don’t know what’s happening in the race, I didn’t know when to stop, when to push, when not to push, when to switch my settings.”
Hamilton has settled in well in his first season since switching to Mercedes from McLaren, and he was magnanimous enough to apologize to his team after his poor qualifying session. Before Monza, he had secured four straight pole positions.