Despite being surprised at losing pole to Williams' Nico Hulkenberg, Sebastian Vettel insists that he had few concerns about his championship chances in the Brazilian Grand Prix.

The Red Bull driver starts the race 25 points behind overall leader Fernando Alonso, and needs to win the race to retain any chance of taking the title, but will line up on the supposedly less favourable even side of the grid after being out-fumbled by countryman Hulkenberg in a damp-but-drying qualifying session.

"Generally, I am happy with qualifying but, at the same time, a bit angry as I think, if you get a second gap to the guy ahead, it is not frustrating, it is a statement," Vettel claimed, "But he did a very good job today. I think we have seen yesterday, you know if you look at the beginning, when the track was green, the Williams generally is a good car, but still you need to put the laps together. It was not a lucky lap at all. If you out-qualify everyone by a second it means something. He did it probably three times in a row."

Aware of what has happened in recent Brazilian grands prix, however, Vettel admitted that he was not taking anything for granted on race, least of all that his chances were diminishing.

"I'm happy with second, [because] it could have been anything this afternoon," he pointed out, "We knew that going into qualifying, but then it was a tight call at the end. We decided for dry and it was the right decision.

"Generally, I was happy with the lap but, unfortunately, a little bit unlucky with traffic. Once I had to back off and the last sector was the most tricky one as it was the wettest. The second lap I had, I went straight and the third lap I got it someway round, but still I think it would not have been enough to get on pole.

"Tomorrow is a long race. We should have a good race car. I think it should be fine [from second place]. With a lot of rain today, it has maybe put some dust on the track or maybe cleaned it. Generally, this year, the circuit was very clean. Yesterday, to start with, all the drivers were very happy, so it should be good."

The best of the championship contenders in qualifying, Vettel has team-mate Mark Webber, McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Alonso directly behind him, but insists that he will not be thinking of any of them when the lights go out on Sunday.

"I have to take notice of [Hulkenberg], as he's ahead of me - if he was starting from P8, I probably wouldn't notice that much, but he's ahead so he's a challenger, and we are racing against him," he reasoned, " But the race is long, a lot of things can happen, you don't know.

"There's 71 laps here and I think that, if you look back at the races over the last three years, it has always been very entertaining - no-one predicted the outcome of the race as it happened in the end.

"We know that we should be quicker in the race. Our car is quite a bit quicker than the Williams, but we still need to find out tomorrow, so I'll focus on having a good start and then, as I said, it's a long race, a lot of things can happen around here.

"A safety car is not impossible and, if you have it at the right time, it can help you, at the wrong time... if you're unlucky, it can ruin your race. There are a lot of things we need to watch out for.

"Regarding the championship, I don't bother [to think] too much. I do my two races, starting with this one, so the focus is on tomorrow's race. I try to optimise my performance. I think there's a lot of you guys telling me if it's looking good or looking bad afterwards."

Regardless of Vettel's ambitions, however, team-mate Webber is Red Bull's better bet for the championship, but the German refuses to countenance possible situations where he may be asked to cede to the Australian.

"I think, to be totally frank, there are so many scenarios possible that I could give you an answer to any scenario, but I think we would still be here tonight," he smiled, "I think it's probably wiser for me to go to sleep at some point in order to be recovered for tomorrow.

"It's a long race. It depends on situations. In the end, we are both fighting for the championship, we are fighting for the team, for the constructors' [title]. You always need to act according to the situation. We will see."



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