LONDON, Oct 31, 2013 (AFP) - Four-time world champion Sebastian Vettel on Thursday scoffed at the suggestion of him easing off in this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix despite the drivers and constructors titles already secured.
When it was suggested that he had little to gain from competing to win the last three races of the Formula One season, the 26-year-old German told reporters that far from slowing down, he was intent on extending his six-race
winning streak to seven.
Vettel clinched his fourth straight F1 title by winning last Sunday's Indian Grand Prix.
"It was a great feeling," he said at a pre-race news conference. "We had a little bit of fun in the hotel bar. It was good to sober up after India and get ready for here."
"We don't approach the weekend as if there is nothing to gain. We love what we are doing and enjoy the challenge and that is why there is not even a question about why we are here and what we have to do. We want to race the others as hard as possible."
Vettel's relentless competitive drive is an extension of the team which secured the constructors' title for a fourth time last Sunday by extending their lead over nearest rivals Mercedes to 157 points.
"I need the team and the team needs Mark (Webber) and myself to push the car to the limit," he said.
Despite his optimism, Vettel should be forgiven this weekend if he appears reluctant to grab pole position in Abu Dhabi.
As a keen, but shrewd, student of his sport's history, he will know not only that he has joined an exclusive hall of fame -- as one of only four men to have taken four titles -- but also that the prime starting spot at the Yas Marina Circuit is something of a poisoned chalice.
In the four previous Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the pole sitter has experienced serious problems three times and failed to finish the race -- hardly an auspicious sign that it is essential to success in the season's only 'twilight' race.
The only driver to have taken pole and not only finished, but won in Abu Dhabi, however, was Vettel on the evening when he secured his maiden title in November, 2010, an achievement that initiated some wild scenes of celebration.
In 2009's inaugural race, Lewis Hamilton retired with a brake problem. In 2012, also with McLaren, he lost fuel pressure. In 2011, Vettel took pole, but suffered a first corner puncture.
If this suggests that the winner can come from anywhere, it would be untrue since only one victor -- Kimi Raikkonen for Lotus last year -- started from behind the front row, a fact that makes second on the grid such a promising position.
Vettel, who won from second in 2009 and from pole in 2010, will thus be seeking a third Abu Dhabi success to extend his remarkable run of six straight wins to a magnificent seven.
Hamilton, who won from second in 2011, will seek his second win at one of his favourite circuits not only to end Red Bull and Vettel's supremacy, but also to book-end it with two wins of his own.
"What he has done, his achievement, is incredible, especially for such a young individual," said Hamilton, following Vettel's latest triumph.
"He is in a class of his own, and he is on his way to becoming the greatest driver in F1, if he is not already."
That praise delivered, however, the 28-year-old Briton warned that he will remain as committed to winning as ever despite Red Bull's double success.
For Hamilton and Mercedes, that means staying ahead of Ferrari and Lotus in the teams' title race while strugglers Marussia and Caterham battle to avoid finishing outside the top ten.
Tyre wear is less likely to be a major factor than it was in India, but the swiftly falling temperatures in the latter stages of Sunday's race - by around 15 degrees Celsius - can play havoc with some teams' expectations