Despite moving into third place on the all-time list of polesitters in F1, Sebastian Vettel insists that he is not setting his sights on overhauling either Ayrton Senna or Michael Schumacher just yet.
The Red Bull driver notched up his 34th career pole - from just 95 appearances - at the Japanese Grand Prix, pushing himself ahead of Jim Clark and Alain Prost, but admitted that, having achieved his fourth successive top spot in qualifying at Suzuka, his attention was more on the task of overhauling Fernando Alonso's 29-point championship advantage than setting his sights on the two greats ahead of him in the pole table.
"I think Michael has a lot of the records that will probably stay there forever," he conceded, noting Schumacher's total, which is currently exactly double his own, "You don't really jump into the car thinking about those sort of things. Obviously, when you end up here, and end up with people telling you some things, it's nice for all of us, but it's not the number one motivation that makes you jump into the car.
"I enjoy what I do a lot and, on tracks like this, on soft tyres, low fuel, you really feel what the cars can achieve and I think our job becomes very very special and unique in the world. That's what I enjoy most. Obviously, if you're successful, then it feeds on itself. I think [Senna and Schumacher] are quite a long way ahead, so we will see. We have to work, obviously, focus step-by-step, and not think about those kind of things."
Despite having struggled at similar circuits in 2012, Red bull was back on top at Suzuka, taking a 1-2 in qualifying and allowing Vettel to make it four years in a row that he has had the advantage at the start of the race.
"Yeah, it's not bad," he smiled, "I'm very, very happy with today's result, I think we had a very, very smooth qualifying session, nearly perfect, so we couldn't really ask for more. The car felt fantastic from the start. We didn't really have the best start to the weekend; yesterday morning I wasn't very happy but then we seemed to get it better every time we go out, so I'm very pleased with the result. The car feels fantastic around here, so we hope for a very good race.
"We worked very hard to get it to where it is now. I think we were struggling at the beginning of the year in places, in corners where usually, traditionally, we were competitive, so we didn't really know what to expect here this weekend. But sector one seemed very competitive for both of us all weekend, and I think that's an indication of whether the car is happy around here or not. I'm happy we are back to the shape that we had over the last couple of years around here."
Despite easing to pole position, however, Vettel still has some concerns for raceday, sharing worries about tyres with most of the field.
"Obviously, we didn't finish the run in Q3, so we saved a little bit there," he noted, "Before that, we had a very smooth session in general. We saved as many tyres as we could and I think we have a pretty good car. The balance felt very good in qualifying, so I was very happy with the laps I had and, yeah, all in all, I think we should have a good race car as well.
"I think we were able to improve the car from yesterday to today, which also helps us on the long run and with tyre consumption. But you never know until you find out. I think we've seen a lot of races this year where probably we expected something, and people expected something, other teams had expectations but, in the last ten laps, everything turned around. We have to stay focused and see what we get from start to finish."