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Vettel forces duel in F1 finale

SAO PAULO, Brazil — Sebastian Vettel took the lead at the first corner and cruised to victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday, setting up a showdown for the Formula One title at next weekend's season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Red Bull teammate Mark Webber was second, points leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari third and Lewis Hamilton of McLaren fourth. Taking the top two places at the 2.6-mile Interlagos track gave Red Bull its first constructors' championship.

Alonso was the only driver who could have won the championship Sunday, but third was not high enough. He remains atop the points standings with 246, while Webber has 238 and Vettel 231. Hamilton has 222 and remains mathematically in contention. Alonso can clinch his third F1 title by finishing second in Abu Dhabi.

"In terms of points, we are happy," Alonso said. "The championship is very open now. With the win, Sebastian is another strong contender. We will see what we can do in Abu Dhabi."

Vettel got a good start from second place to pass pole-sitter Nico Hulkenberg and never looked in trouble.

"It's an incredible day," said Vettel, who got his fourth win this season and eighth overall for Red Bull. "… I saw that Nico had too much wheel spin and used my momentum. There was just enough room there."

Evasive maneuver: F1 driver Jenson Button credited the undercover police officer driving his car with getting him out of a "scary situation" Saturday. Button, his father, manager and a physiotherapist were nearly attacked by armed men as they left the track after Brazilian GP qualifying. "He floored it, banging through other cars and eventually got through," said Button, who was in the front seat. " … Looking behind there were two guys with hand guns and one guy with what looked like a machine gun." Attacks on drivers at traffic lights are not uncommon in Brazil, and McLaren provided Button and Lewis Hamilton with armored vehicles driven by armed police drivers trained in avoidance techniques.

Putin pushes F1: Russian prime minister Vladimir Putin drove an F1 car near St. Petersburg, Russia, reaching speeds of almost 150 mph. Putin, who signed a deal last month to bring F1 racing to Russia in 2014, hopes his televised test drive raises the sport's profile. He spun out once. "For the first time, it's good," he said.

EAST BAY RACEWAY: Pole-sitter Bryan Bernhardt won the Late Model main event Saturday in Gibsonton.

Vettel forces duel in F1 finale 11/07/10 [Last modified: Sunday, November 7, 2010 9:22pm]

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