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Drivers steer for motivation after title settled

With the drivers’ title now in Sebastian Vettel’s hands and Red Bull almost certainly to be the champion team, the issue of motivation is an interesting one in the Yeongam paddock.

Teams are now focused on 2012 and testing new components, but the drivers must still line up on four more grand prix grids.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso, 8 points behind runner-up Jenson Button and 8 ahead of Mark Webber, said on Thursday: “I think finishing second, third or fifth in the drivers championship is not a big difference.

“Once you cannot be world champion it is not any more a big interest on that.”

The simple pursuit of victory is therefore the motivation, the Spaniard explained.

“I think we all want to win, in any race we participate in.  Even when we do the race of champions in December, for fun, if we finish second it’s a very bad feeling, and a very bad night,” said Alonso.

Vettel – who could go on holiday rather than travel to India, Abu Dhabi and Brazil in the next six weeks and still be champion – added: “I think the moment you come to a race thinking that it doesn’t really matter where you finish it’s the moment when you should probably stay at home.

“We love racing, we will enjoy racing as usual, but we will not be happy leaving this track knowing that we could have done better,” said the German.

And Lewis Hamilton said: “To me, racing is the biggest part of my life apart from my family and it doesn’t matter if it’s a practice race or whatever, it still holds significant value to me.”

Another possible motivation, according to former Ferrari driver and Italian commentator Ivan Capelli, is money.

“It depends on their contracts,” he told AFP France.  “Some have incentives for points scored, wins, poles …”

And as for the multi-millionaires like Jenson Button, Alonso and Hamilton, Capelli added: “I think that once they get on the track, they want the prestige.

“It’s like a new championship even after the title, where they can say maybe ‘Well, I finished (the season) scoring more points than Vettel’.”