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Alonso: Title fight is over
Sebastian Vettel may insist it is not over but as far as Fernando Alonso is concerned this year's fight for the Formula One title is a done deal.
Vettel's fourth win in five years at the Japanese Grand Prix gave him his fifth straight grand prix victory in the current campaign, a personal best.
Since the summer break the 26-year-old German has been unstoppable, and with a 90-point lead over Alonso with 100 to play for, there is now only one outcome as far as the Spaniard is concerned.
"Even if Sebastian retired from all four remaining races, I would have to win all of them," said Alonso, who finished fourth and 45 seconds behind Vettel.
"So it's only a matter of time before he will be champion. We have different goals now.
"We will continue to try to do our best on Sundays, and when it is mathematically settled we will congratulate him."
At this rate, Vettel is on course to equal Alberto Ascari's all-time F1 record of nine consecutive race victories, set over the 1952 and 1953 seasons.
Vettel is not taking anything for granted and instead basked in the warmth of adoration from the Japanese fans, in stark contrast to the boos he received on the podium at Monza after the Italian Grand Prix, and in Singapore.
"Because of the circuit, which I love, and the fans, this race is one of the highlights of the year," said Vettel.
"I've been very, very fortunate to have a great car in the past, and again this year. Being able to win four times now is incredible.
"When we leave the hotel in the morning it's the same for all of the drivers, the reception we get is so special.
"The people are crazy about Formula One. They really admire us and love what we do.
"On Saturday I ran the circuit in the evening and there were still 5,000 people in the grandstand watching. They are amazed by Formula One.
"That is what makes this race so special and victories taste so sweet.
"So I would like to say thank you to all the fans because every time we come here the appreciation and the respect we get as drivers is incredible.
"Regarding the championship, we have a very, very good gap. It looks very good at this stage, but we will still keep pushing. It's not over until it's over."
The result came down to strategies, with Vettel making a two-stop plan work compared to team-mate Mark Webber's three, with the 37-year-old Australian runner-up just ahead of Lotus' Romain Grosjean.
Lewis Hamilton was forced to retire for the first time this year with floor damage to his Mercedes sustained after suffering a puncture at the start following a brush with Vettel's front wing.
Behind Alonso, Lotus' Kimi Raikkonen was fifth, followed by Sauber duo Nico Hulkenberg and Esteban Gutierrez, with the latter in the points for the first time in his rookie year.
Mercedes' Nico Rosberg was eighth, with McLaren's Jenson Button and Felipe Massa in his Ferrari completing the top 10, whilst Paul Di Resta was 11th for Force India.