F1: Vettel 'Definitely' Headed For 2011 Title - Sutil Photo:

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Mike Stevens | Sep, 01 2011 | 0 Comments

Yet another member of the formula one paddock believes Sebastian Vettel is "definitely" cruising to the 2011 title.

After a victory drought that extended throughout July, the Red Bull driver returned to the top step of the podium at Spa-Francorchamps, extending his lead to 92 points with just seven races to go.

"I think he definitely has the title," Force India driver and German compatriot Adrian Sutil told Auto Motor und Sport in an interview.

"In the next races he really only needs to take points, so I don't see there is any danger for him.

"Behind him it is still exciting but the world champion is for sure," added Sutil.

Mathematically, however, the title is still on, with Mark Webber needing to score over 13 points more than his teammate per race to beat Vettel at November's finale.

For comparison, the difference between first and third places at grands prix is only 10 points, so a string of mere victories will not be enough for Vettel's chasers.

"Let's be realistic," La Stampa quotes Ferrari's Fernando Alonso - who is a further ten points behind Webber - as saying. "It (the championship) is not in our hands."

The Spaniard's boss Stefano Domenicali added: "I can not hide the fact that our heads are already turning towards 2012."

But his Red Bull counterpart Christian Horner refuses to celebrate just yet.

"We don't alter our approach, absolutely not, and I can assure you Mark still has a free run at it," The Sun quotes him as saying.

"There will be no complacency. We're heads down (and) focused on the next race and not thinking anything is done and dusted at this point in time," added Horner.



No fear of Monza after Red Bull's Spa speed

Red Bull will travel to high speed Monza next week with less-than-expected levels of trepidation.

The championship leading team was expecting its Renault engines to suffer on the long straights of Spa-Francorchamps, but Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber - with blistering tyres - delivered a one-two finish instead.

Italian grand prix venue Monza, meanwhile, is an even higher speed venue, and without many of the kinds of corners seen in Spa's sector two that suited Adrian Newey's RB7.

"In the last two years it (Monza) has not been a good track for us, so we'll see," Briton Newey is quoted as saying by Autosprint after accepting the constructors' trophy on the Belgian grand prix podium.

Runaway points leader Vettel is happier with the prospect of racing at Monza after winning last Sunday.

"The car felt so fantastic (at Spa) and the balance was fabulous so it (Monza) should be manageable," said the German.

Team boss Christian Horner admitted the Belgian result was a surprise.

"In many respects it was, yes, because power is a dominant factor and we thought it would perhaps favour some of our opponents more," he said.

The RB7 was wearing a noticeably thin rear wing profile at Spa and the bespoke item will return to the car next weekend.

"I think that if we want to get close to certain engines on the straight we have to run a bit less wing," confirmed Horner.



'No plan B' as van der Garde eyes 2012 F1 debut

GP2 frontrunner Giedo van der Garde's manager has revealed talks about the 2012 season with three formula one teams.

Last weekend at Spa-Francorchamps, where the Dutchman emerged in second place behind the new GP2 champion Romain Grosjean, 26-year-old van der Garde was linked with the 2012 Williams seat currently occupied by Rubens Barrichello.

Media reports said he has "the most" sponsorship money to offer a potential F1 employer.

"That (F1) is the goal, yes," NUsport quotes van der Garde as saying. "My management is in talks with three teams, so there are possibilities. There is no plan B.

"So there are some free places but it (F1) is a strange world."

Van der Garde's case is indeed unique, with his manager Jan Paul ten Hoopen doubling as the commercial director of the F1 sponsor McGregor, a Dutch fashion house.

And van der Garde's father-in-law is billionaire Marcel Boekhoorn.

The Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf reports that Boekhoorn may be interested in buying into the Renault team, and van der Garde has also been linked with Virgin.

"The real conversations (with teams) don't take place until October, or at least after the Italian grand prix," said manager ten Hoopen.



Richards and billionaire eye embattled Renault - report

Renault is still in "big" financial trouble and David Richards has expressed interest in buying into the Enstone based team.

That is the claim of the Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf, adding that one of the richest Dutch entrepreneurs Marcel Boekhoorn has been asked to support Prodrive chief Richards' interest.

"I've heard about it but I do not know what to think of it," said Jan Paul ten Hoopen, who is Dutch GP2 driver Giedo van der Garde's manager.

The link with van der Garde is that the 26-year-old driver is married to Boekhoorn's daughter.

Ten Hoopen continued: "I think it is pretty much a mess within that team (Renault). Put it this way, it is clear in terms of Lotus-Renault that many things remain unclear.

"Certainly if there is any more to it, we should see if there are any opportunities for Giedo," ten Hoopen is quoted by NUsport.

Richards, also the former BAR boss, was the team principal at Enstone based Renault when the team was known as Benetton in the late 90s.



Time since 2008 title tilt 'intense' admits Massa

Felipe Massa has acknowledged being beaten by Fernando Alonso this year but the Brazilian insists he is not afraid of his teammate.

In the Ferrari drivers' qualifying battle so far in 2011 - off the back of Brazilian Massa's difficult 2010 season - Massa has outpaced Spaniard Alonso just three times out of twelve.

"Well, it's simple," Massa said during an interview with Spanish newspaper El Pais. "Fernando has been far better than me in that area.

"I am working to turn around the situation and, in any case, I have not exactly been slow," he insisted.

Massa, 30, so nearly won the 2008 championship against Lewis Hamilton but since then he has struggled with Ferrari's 2009 car, returned from a near-fatal crash and welcomed his first child into the world.

And since Brazil 2008, he has failed to add a single win to his tally of 11.

So what has changed? "Nothing. I am exactly the same," insists Massa. "It is true that I have not got the results since then but I have the same ambition and determination."

Asked if his fatherhood and his struggle for survival after Hungary 2009 affected him, Massa admitted: "Both things give you a lot of experience. But none of it affects me when I get into the car.

"Then, you do not remember anything. In the car I forget about my son, my wife, my father and mother. Michael (Schumacher) won many titles as a parent, so people talk about it too much.

"Although it is true that these two years have been the most intense of my life."

In the 2011 standings, Massa is a massive 185 points behind Sebastian Vettel's lead, meaning that even mathematically he can no longer win the title.

But it remains "important to focus on the present," Massa said. "We hope to do better.

"Also we are not expecting many changes in the regulations (between 2011 and 2012) so it is crucial to finish the season with a competitive car.

"Next year the position of the exhaust changes but not the (other) aerodynamics, so the cars will be an evolution of these ones. So it's worth it to stay focused."

And Massa insists he is still a winning driver.

"Of course. If I didn't think that I would go home."


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