Vettel looks to turn tables on Alonso at his favourite circuit
Sebastian Vettel won his second Formula One title in Suzuka last year but it will take more than another Japanese Grand Prix victory this weekend to put the Red Bull driver back on top of the world. The Red Bull driver, revved up after winning under the Singapore floodlights, lags Ferrari's championship leader Fernando Alonso by 29 points with six races remaining and everything to play for.
Consistency is the key, with Red Bull plagued by alternator failures and Vettel's win nine days ago only his second in a season full of surprises.
The 25-year-old has been on pole at Suzuka for the past three years, however, winning there in 2009 and 2010, and will fancy his chances even if Alonso, second last year, has a knack for appearing on the podium.
"I love the Suzuka circuit. In short, it has the most amazing corners and brilliant fans, I really like coming here," Vettel said in a team preview. "I wish I had won in 2011, it was my third Formula One race on my favourite track and it still bothers me a bit that I took my world title with a third place."
McLaren's Jenson Button, who considers Japan a home from home due to his Japanese girlfriend and long association with Honda, denied Vettel victory last year but will have a five-place handicap on the grid this time around due to an unscheduled gearbox change. His team mate Lewis Hamilton remains the talk of the paddock after the 2008 world champion's move to Mercedes next season in place of Michael Schumacher was announced last week to end months of speculation.
McLaren will want to shield Hamilton as far as possible from all the attention, with the Briton their best shot at the title even if his retirement in Singapore while leading left him 52 points adrift of Alonso.