Sebastian Vettel's rivals admit they need perfection to beat him in India
Red Bull set to clinch fourth successive title this weekend
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 24/10/13 1:15pm
Prefection needed to beat Vettel
Sebastian Vettel's F1 rivals have admitted they will need to be "perfect" if they are to prevent the Red Bull driver securing the World Championship at this weekend's Indian GP with yet another race victory.
While Vettel is guaranteed to claim a fourth successive title on Sunday if he finishes fifth or higher, anything less than victory for the relentless German - whose thirst for success seems to be unquenchable - would be a major surprise.
In the form of his life, Vettel has been victorious in every race since the summer break and won last year's race at the Buddh International Circuit in dominant fashion from pole position after also topping the timesheets in each of the three practice sessions.
"I have a very good car and although the Red Bull is a bit quicker than us, you never know. If we get everything right then it is possible to beat Sebastian and Mark [Webber]," said Nico Rosberg of his own victory prospects. "I'll give it everything."
Although Rosberg and his Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton are the only drivers other than Vettel to win a race since May's Spanish GP, Vettel's closest rival - if being a hundred points adrift can be categorised as 'close' - in the standings remains Fernando Alonso, with Kimi Raikkonen's title bid unravelling in lacklustre fashion due to an acute lack of single-lap pace.
The Finn has qualified in 8th, 11th, 13th, 9th and 9th since the season's resumption in late August and admitted: "I have to do better in qualifying. That will help a lot and give us a good chance to try to beat them - but it's not only them."
It has, though, been all about Vettel for the past two months, with the reigning World Champion boasting twice as many points as current team-mate Webber. Although the veteran registered his first qualifying defeat of Vettel this season in Japan two weeks ago, the Aussie ultimately crossed the line ten seconds behind his all-conquering team-mate.
"It needs a perfect weekend to put him off the top step," Webber reflected when asked if he could break Vettel's winning run. "Pole, perfect race, perfect strategy, perfect everything."
The Australian, whose relationship with Vettel could best be described as fractious, is to leave F1 at the end of the year for a new life in sportscars and was unusually generous in his appraisal of Vettel's qualities when he faced the press.
Webber praises Vettel
"He's had an incredible run and he's done an incredible job. He's been very strong on the Pirellis, the Bridgestones were a little bit tighter, but he has no real weaknesses on these tyres and so that's been strong for him," said Webber.
"He's been incredibly consistent and got the most out the package. He's won with a dominant car but he's also won with a car in some races over the last four years when he shouldn't have won races."
In 2014, the task of beating Vettel at Red Bull will fall to Daniel Ricciardo, and the youngster is under no illusions about the size of the challenge that awaits him.
"My main focus is still on Toro Rosso but I'm aware of the competition I am up against," said the Australian. "Once the season is over I will make the conversion and start to try to figure out what makes Seb so quick."
It's a longstanding conundrum that has so far stumped every other driver on the grid.