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Mat Coch writes:
Red Bull boss Christian Horner is refusing to allow his team to get carried away as it closes in on what could be its third consecutive championship double. The Milton Keynes squad currently sits more than eighty points clear of Ferrari in second, and could wrap up the title this weekend if it scores just four points.
Meanwhile, Sebastian Vettel heads the Drivers' Championship by ten points over Fernando Alonso and starts three rows ahead of the Spaniard for today's United States Grand Prix.
"Anything can happen so we don't take anything for granted," Horner told the official Formula One website. "We've got ourselves in a healthy position in the Constructors' Championship, but obviously the drivers' championship is a lot tighter, so it is paramount for us to have a strong weekend here.
"Our focus is very much on this weekend's race: trying to extract the most out of the car, the team and the drivers. We are taking pretty much one race at a time."
Red Bull has been forced to fight for its victories this season, unlike 2011 when the team dominated the year. In the early and mid-part of the season Red Bull found itself out-paced by McLaren, while Fernando Alonso consistently picked up strong points to head the championship for a long period.
"The thing with Fernando unfortunately is that wherever he qualifies he always seems to end up on the podium," Horner laughed, referring to his eighth place grid slot for today's race.
"Fernando has driven with tremendous consistency this year," Horner admitted. "I think he is at his peak. He has used every opportunity when he had them presented to him. He is a formidable competitor and I am sure the he is going to push all the way in this championship.
"As a team we haven't always had the fastest car, but as a team we have collectively worked tremendously well," Horner added. "We have worked hard to develop the car after the regulation changes over the winter and we have maximized our chances on occasions where a fourth position was the best on offer. We have never given up and never stopped pushing. If you are at a circuit Thursday or Friday night you will find us always in the garage - the last to leave is Red Bull. It is that working and fighting spirit - not only at races but also back in the factory.
"If we manage to beat Ferrari - a fantastic team that has been in Formula One since the very beginning with a great driver driving for them - if you beat Ferrari and Fernando Alonso you've done a fantastic job."
With Vettel qualifying on pole, the thirty-sixth in his 100-race Formula One career, the German is ideally placed to capitalise on Alonso's comparatively poor Saturday session. The Ferrari driver was capable of only ninth place before being promoted to eighth thanks to a gearbox penalty for Romain Grosjean. On the dirty side of the circuit and three rows behind his title rival, Alonso has his work cut out.
However Horner refused to rule the Spaniard out of the running, citing his consistent performances throughout the season as evidence of his pedigree. "I am sure he'll make progress starting from P8," Horner warned. "With Mark starting from P3 we have strengthened our position even further for the race."
And if Red Bull does manage to wrap up both championships? "If we are to achieve a third consecutive constructors' title - only three other teams in the history of the sport have ever achieved that - then that by far would be our greatest achievement."
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