Vettel focused on title in Texas showdown
Wild west: Championship rivals in pitlane at the weekend. Photo: Getty Images
SEBASTIAN Vettel is unconcerned by the plight of championship rival Fernando Alonso despite the Italian's struggles leaving the Red Bull driver on the brink of a third world title heading into the US Grand Prix.
Vettel will start his 100th formula one race from the 36th pole of his career and sixth of the season ahead of McLaren's Lewis Hamilton with his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber third.
Alonso, a two-time former champion, will start eighth knowing he has to finish in the top four to stop Vettel taking the title, while the Red Bull drivers can also secure a third successive constructors' title in Texas.
Asked how he felt about Alonso's qualifying struggles, Vettel said he was only focused on himself.
''There's not much to feel. We have to look after ourselves,'' he said. ''It is the best strategy to keep your head down and try to do your best. I am very happy with the result but so far nobody has scored any points.
''We saw in the last race how quickly things can change and starting from the back gives you opportunities.
''We will focus on our race and tomorrow aim to seal the constructors' title for the team.''
The world champion said the problems he suffered in second practice on Friday will not affect his race performance.
''Not really. We could get a decent run on lower fuel. The boys did a good job to get the car ready in time to have enough for a short run. It was very important, otherwise we would have been a little bit in the dark.
''Obviously you can't tick all the boxes you would like for Sunday, but if anything we missed a little on the short runs. I think we can say we were quite competitive and happy with the results today.''
Romain Grosjean of Lotus was fourth fastest but was penalised five grid positions because his team fitted a new gearbox to his car before the session, which elevated Alonso from ninth on the grid to eighth.
Webber, who starts third, could play an important role in defending Vettel's position in the field.
''I'm happy with qualifying. I was pretty happy with the last part of Q3,'' he said. ''I had to manage a little problem with the car, but the two guys ahead of me were pretty quick and did very strong lap times. Overall, I'm happy to be third on the grid. We can have a strong grand prix from there.
''It's a great job by the team. We've got our eye on the constructors' championship and trying to put that to bed.''
Despite his low grid position Alonso remained optimistic.
''I'll try to move up the grid on Sunday and I still believe I can score more points than Sebastian, I need to keep my confidence.''
Kimi Raikkonen, who won the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix two weeks ago, was fifth for Lotus ahead of retirement-bound seven-time champion Michael Schumacher in his Mercedes.