Sebastian Vettel admits that he wants to win the Singapore Grand Prix as much to overcome the challenge presented by the race as the points it would provide towards a fourth consecutive F1 world title.
The German, who has already triumphed six times in twelve races in 2013 and arrives in Marina Bay as the defending race winner, acknowledges that another trip to the top step of the podium would be a vital stride towards the championship, but insists that the achievement of overcoming the tricky 23-turn circuit in hot and humid conditions makes success in Singapore one of the more enjoyable of the year.
“The target tomorrow is to win, not only for the championship but, more so, to be honest with you, because it's such a nice race,” he confirmed, “That means a lot to me. The challenge around here is one of the biggest we face all year, so that's why it means a lot to finish this race on the podium – and, even better, if you can win it.
“You don't have to be a genius [to work out that], if you win, you score more points than the others and it feeds on itself. [But this is] one of the toughest races we face all year - I would say the toughest, physically and mentally, because it's so long. One lap is so long, there's so many corners, there's hardly any room for mistakes, it's very bumpy and, as you can see, we're all sweating pretty much even though we only did a couple of laps in qualifying, so obviously the heat and the humidity plays a factor.
“I don't know [why I think Singapore is so special]. We race at night and, even though it hasn't been in the calendar for many decades, it still seems like a classic. It's a very nice place to come to, and the circuit is a big challenge for all of us. It's so long, so many corners, and it's very difficult to keep the focus for the entire lap. It's usually the longest race we have, with two hours duration, so you hate it and love it at the same time. Obviously, in qualifying, if you get the lap right, it feels fantastic, and I think it's the challenge that I love - that we love - when we come here.”
Arriving in Singapore with a 53-point over Fernando Alonso, Vettel knows that his fourth title is far from secure, even if the Spaniard managed only seventh on qualifying while he claimed a 41st career pole.
“Sure, pole is the best position to start from – I'm very happy with that as it is tricky to pass on this track – but, because it is such a long race, I think there are plenty of opportunities for all of us,” Vettel insisted, “I keep it very simple. I've got to do my homework. Just because of the fact that the last couple of races were pretty good doesn't mean that there's a guarantee that this one will be good again - and the next one and so on and so forth. I think it's the wrong strategy to lean back and see what the others can do. You might get surprised, so we keep going flat out, I keep pushing myself 100 per cent.
“We don't really look at what the others do, at least I don't, but, while the Ferrari was struggling at the last couple of events in qualifying, they have a very, very good race pace. Yeah, obviously, it's no harm for us [Alonso qualifying seventh] today but, in the last couple of races, Fernando always finished on the podium, so I'm sure they will come back. We have to look after ourselves and look at what we can do in the race, but I'm confident Fernando will do everything he can tomorrow in the race to fight back.”