|© Paul Gilham/Getty Images/Red Bull Racing
ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) -- Sebastian Vettel is on the verge of clinching a third consecutive driver's championship. He can't do it this weekend’s Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, but a win would almost certainly allow him clinch the title at the United States GP later this month with a strong performance.
If so, he would join greats Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only drivers to win three championships in a row.
"It depends on how it comes to an end. That is why we are here," Vettel said. "There are three races to go. It's no secret everyone is important. You don't get more points than five races or ten races ago. We try therefore to have the same approach we had ten races ago."
Vettel, who clinched the 2010 title in Abu Dhabi and then ran away with the title in 2011, has had a late resurgence after struggling early in the season with the car. He has won the past four races but knows that success can be fleeting.
After earning pole at last year's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, he crashed on the opening lap due to a punctured tyre. He also has retired twice this season with alternator failures.
"If you just look back at India, it was a great race for us but a couple laps before end we had some sparks," he said. "It doesn't take much to imagine. If something like this comes up, it shows you how vulnerable you are no matter which position you are -- in the lead by a big gap or just in middle of the field fighting for position."
The day-night race in Abu Dhabi has been much kinder to Vettel in recent years than Alonso. Vettel won in 2010 to overtake Alonso and win the title, and then qualified on pole last year to equal the record for the most pole positions in a season (14). The 25-year-old German crashed out last year, but says the race remains something special.
"This place has been very good for us, a lot of very good memories," Vettel said. "I'm looking forward to getting into the car and going out tomorrow."