Sebastian Vettel has admitted he is trying hard not to think about winning the World Championship title at Suzuka, as the Red Bull driver embarks on a potentially historic Japanese Grand Prix weekend.
The 24-year-old is likely to become the sport's youngest ever double world champion in Suzuka, and needs only a point from the last five races to retain his title. Vettel's only remaining challenger for the world crown, Jenson Button, must win the race with the German not scoring just to keep the title battle open beyond the weekend. But Vettel says he is taking nothing for granted and refuses to accept what most observers and all of his rivals now believe is imminently achievable.
"At the moment, I am not trying to think about the championship," he said. "I want to focus on this race and then soon enough we will find out if we are in a good position or not. Surely it is a lot different to last year where we knew we had to deliver to keep the chances alive.
"This year we are in a strong position and looking forward to it in a way, but even if it is very close, it is still important to be aware that you need to do that final step. Whether it is 10 points or one point, we still have to go out and do it. Most people are saying it is all over, but even if it is only one point, even if people would like to hear something else, we need to make sure we get it."
Vettel said he will not change his approach to the weekend and intends to focus on fighting for victory and let everything else happen around him.
"If someone wants to do [me] a favor and push Jenson down the stairs later on that would help, but that is not the way we should think about it," he said. "We have a good position, I am looking forward to the race more than anything else, it is a special track, very challenging, the first sector – life doesn't get much better. It's great to be here, we had a tremendous run the last two years and we'll try to do similar to that and hopefully we have a great weekend.
"I don't think there is any reason why I should approach it differently. The target is to get the best out of the car and the best out of ourselves, as I said I really like the circuit."
With five races still to run this season, Vettel in on the verge of completing a record-breaking campaign and is still within sight of Michael Schumacher's 13-wins-in-a-season mark. But even if the younger German sets new standards by the end of 2011, he says that he will never truly eclipse his countryman's achievements.
"Regarding Michael whatever we try to do, he did much more," said Vettel. "As I said, we really try to approach it race by race. I think the moment you start to think about too many other things, say things in your control, usually other things you are facing at the present time slip out of your hands. That would be wrong.
"We had occasions maybe not in the same style, and lessons to learn, so far we learned our lessons and it would be wrong to allow yourselves to forget those and do the same mistakes again, we try to get the best out of ourselves, and enjoy."