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GP Week : Issue 66
Vettel applies championship pressure Suzuka win confirms it's far from Game Over with two races left to run in season 2009 SEBASTIAN Vettel has vowed that he will push until his "last breath" to win the 2009 Formula 1 World Championship after securing a dominant win at the Japanese Grand Prix, on a weekend when season-long championship leader Jenson Button once again barely scraped into the points. Vettel's task on his arrival in Japan was vast -- namely, to overcome a 25-point gap in three races. With a maximum haul of 30 points available from the final three weekends of the season, Vettel has thus made the best possible start to his final championship push with the first of three essential victories in Suzuka. With Button down in eighth, the gap between the two is down to 16 points, with 20 left to play for ... one point less than the gap that Kimi Raikkonen overcame to beat Lewis Hamilton to the 2007 world crown at the same point of the season. "I'm here to challenge and in the end we want to find out who is the best, the best in one race and the best over the whole season. That's why I am here, and ultimately that's my target. As I've said many times already, I will fight until the end, until the last breath." Vettel maintained that there was little he could now do to influence the championship battle other than to go out and win the final two races, and hope the other results went his way: "I think our task from now on is pretty straightforward: we have to push ourselves to the maximum and try to win, get as many points as we can and everything else is not in our hands. "You can ask the man sitting next to me (Lewis Hamilton) thinking two years back. I think Kimi had quite a big gap (to Lewis) with two races to go. Everyone said to Lewis it will not be a problem, sitting in one of the most competitive cars, just get a couple of points, but you can see sometimes, as I said before, things just don't work your way. Anything is possible. The bottom line is that we're here to fight." History agrees with him. In 2007 and following the Japanese Grand Prix, Kimi Raikkonen sat in third place in the championship, 17 points behind Lewis Hamilton and with just two races remaining. The Finn won both races, while Hamilton could only muster one seventh place, and the championship went to Raikkonen. Vettel will be hoping the same fortune smiles upon him in 2009. And with the current performance differential between Red Bull and Brawn, the young German's task is nowhere near as huge or apparently unlikely as it seemed just seven days ago. BrawnGP meanwhile, with seventh and eighth places at Suzuka, came to within half a point of taking a Constructors' Championship which can now only be a formality. 4