With a commanding – some might say practically unassailable – 80-point advantage in the title standings, runaway F1 2011 World Championship leader Sebastian Vettel does not need to win this weekend's German Grand Prix at the Nürburgring, but buoyed by the support of his adoring partisan fans, he has made it very clear that he will be trying his utmost to do so.
Such is Vettel's margin over his pursuers in the chase for the coveted crown, that the defending F1 World Champion could afford to finish second in each of the remaining races and still prevail by at least ten points – but having never triumphed on home turf before, he is eager indeed to set that record straight this weekend.
After finding himself outpaced by both Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber and McLaren-Mercedes rival Lewis Hamilton during the crucial Q3 phase of qualifying at the Nürburgring, however – the first time in a staggering 16 grands prix that he has been off the front row of the starting grid – the 24-year-old will likely have a fight on his hands come race day. It is one he insists he is ready for.
“It was tough session,” Vettel reflected. “I think we had a good recovery, as yesterday I didn't really find my way, but the car felt much better this morning. We could have been a bit quicker in qualifying here-and-there, but Mark did a good lap and I think we still have a good chance from third on the grid.
“It will be a long race, and you never know what can happen with the weather here. Rain is forecast, but we don't know how much we will have and when. However, in the end it doesn't really matter; the most important thing is that we have a solid race and the target is to win, which is not impossible from third – it's the clean side of the track and we go from there. I'm looking forward to tomorrow – it doesn't happen too often that you have so many people coming here and supporting the German drivers, so I will make sure I enjoy the race.”
“I think it was a good result,” concurred Cyril Dumont from RBR's engine-supplier, Renault. “Today's qualifying shows that we have a strong driver pairing, and if one makes a small mistake, then the other one is always right there, so it's very encouraging.
“It's the 30th pole position for the Red Bull Racing-Renault partnership, and I would like to congratulate everyone that has been working as part of this. I think tomorrow is going to be a long race; hopefully it will be dry, but we may have some changes in the weather, so we will see – I hope not!”