DUBAI, United Arab Emirates – Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel is aiming to build on his late-season resurgence and extend his lead in the Formula One standings when he heads back to the desert for the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix this weekend.
Abu Dhabi holds fond memories for Vettel, who clinched his first title there with a victory in 2010.
While he won't be lifting the drivers' trophy at the Yas Marina track this year, the two-time defending champion is the favorite for a third straight drivers' title after his victory Sunday at the Indian Grand Prix.
The Indian GP was the German driver's fourth straight win – completing a clean sweep of F1's Asian swing – and gave him a 13-point lead over championship rival Fernando Alonso with three races to go.
Kimi Raikkonen of Lotus is 67 points back in the standings in third spot, while Vettel's teammate, Mark Webber, is another six points back.
After his win last weekend, Vettel was careful to play down his chances of clinching the season title and joining greats Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as the only men to win three drivers' championships in a row.
"If we speak about the world championship, obviously this was another good step for us, but still a long way to go and we have seen this year how quickly things can change," Vettel said. "There's a lot more to come and we'll try to take things step by step."
Alonso, who finished second in India, insisted he remains in the hunt while acknowledging adjustments would have to be made to his Ferrari ahead of Abu Dhabi. At mid-year, he had a 44-point lead over Vettel, until crashes in Belgium and Japan.
"We can fight the Red Bulls, but at the moment we still don't have a car capable of winning," Alonso said last Sunday.
"I think we need to bring some new parts to Abu Dhabi, hopefully improve a little bit more the competitiveness of the car, try to be a little bit closer to Red Bulls on Saturday and hopefully on Sunday as well," he said. "Obviously. ... [the] championship is the main target, so we need to recover some points. It will be nice to finish in front of Sebastian in Abu Dhabi, whatever the position it is."
Ferrari team principal Stefano Domenicali insisted his team will keep fighting for a first championship since 2007.
"Fernando and Ferrari will not slacken their efforts by a centimeter, right to the end of this long season," he said. "There are three more [GPs] to go, up against very strong opponents, but they are not unbeatable.
"I recall that in 1982 the Italian football team was definitely not the strongest, but went on to win that year's World Cup. We believe in our chances and I'm sure that so do all our fans."