SUZUKA, Japan (Reuters) - Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso took more comfort in knocking Michael Schumacher off his perch as Formula One’s all-time top points scorer on Sunday than in keeping the championship mathematically open for two more weeks.
The Spaniard’s fourth place in the Japanese Grand Prix meant Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, winner for the fifth race in a row and now 90 points clear with four rounds left, would have to wait until India on October 27 to celebrate his fourth successive title.
The result also lifted Alonso’s career points tally to 1,571 - five more than seven times world champion Michael Schumacher managed to accumulate.
The record may be scorned by the sport’s historians, given the change in scoring systems over the years and far greater number of races in a season, but Alonso was not about to overlook the chance to be happy about something.
“Today they told me I have the record for the most amount of points in F1 history, so it’s a happy day - the leading points scorer in F1 is something great,” he told reporters.
“In six years time when someone will overtake me, no-one will remember the points (systems). They will only celebrate they are first in history.
“So it’s my time to celebrate, my time to enjoy hopefully for many years,” said Alonso.
Formula One awarded eight points for a win in the early days with only the top five scoring. From 1991, the winner collected 10 points and in 2010 that was increased to 25 with the top 10 finishers all scoring.
Schumacher won 91 races in a career running from 1991 to 2012, with a break from the end of 2006 to 2010, while double world champion Alonso has 32 career wins since he made his debut in 2001.
Alonso had little to crow about after Sunday’s race, with Ferrari again outpaced by the Red Bulls and the Lotus of Frenchman Romain Grosjean.
In his mind, the title has already been won by Vettel and the battle now is to keep Ferrari in second place and ahead of Mercedes and Lotus.
“I was always behind someone but the top three were always too strong for us. Even without the traffic, I think the podium was already decided,” said Alonso.
“Even if Sebastian retires in all four races I need to win them all.”
Editing by John O'Brien