Red Bull will confirm the Formula One constructors’ championship if they can maintain their 130-point lead over McLaren in the Korean Grand Prix this weekend.
With 25 points for a win and 18 for second place, newly-crowned champion Vettel and team-mate Mark Webber will make it a mathematical impossibility for McLaren to take the title if they can keep the points gap with three races remaining.
Germany’s Vettel, 24, cruised to glory in Japan, finishing a cautious third to become the sport’s youngest back-to-back champion, with Australian Webber, 35, in fourth.
But team owner Dietrich Mateschitz urged them to keep pushing hard.
“We now build the basics to run for another championship in 2012,” said the Red Bull boss. “And we are clearly aware of how Ferrari, McLaren and Mercedes will increase their efforts to be on top next year.
“We have to get out the best of our development in the final weeks of 2011 for the benefit of 2012.”
He said the constructors’ championship was not yet in the bag, even though it is improbable the team will not score in the remaining races.
“But we all know — the devil never sleeps,” he said. “The team will probably celebrate in Sao Paulo on the last Sunday night. Maybe we will have another party in Salzburg, as we did last year, but nothing is fixed yet.”
He added he was wary of complacency.
“For some time the lead was big enough that Sebastian’s second title is not that much of a surprise anymore,” he said.
“We believed in it for some time. However, with opposition from teams like McLaren and Ferrari, you can never be sure. It’s only over when it’s over mathematically.”
The Red Bull owner was also full of praise for Vettel’s consistency.
“His performance has been incredible,” he said.
“Everyone knows he is very good. He’s got all the talent, the discipline, concentration, the capability to get totally focused on one single lap, and to raise his game when it is necessary.
“But if you look at the continuity of his performances, it’s incredible.
“For Mark (Webber), it was not easy to find the motivation and to get adjusted to the tyres. He had to cope with the kind of bad luck that struck Seb at the beginning of last season.
“However, Mark is a proven top driver on whom we can rely.”
Last weekend’s victor, Briton Jenson Button, believes he and McLaren can not only win in Korea, but lay their own foundations for a title challenge next season.
The circuit at Yeongam, hosting only the second Korean Grand Prix, was built on reclaimed land in the hills outside the city of Mokpo, about 44 kilometres from Seoul.