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FORMULA1

F1 returns to India for second time

Separated by just six points, Sebastian Vettel and Fernando Alonso take their Formula One world championship battle to India.

Just four races remain, with Abu Dhabi (Nov. 4), Austin, Texas (Nov. 18) and Brazil (Nov. 25) following the Indian Grand Prix.

Vettel, the two-time defending F1 champion, will attempt to win his fourth consecutive grand prix. Since his retirement in the Sept. 9 Italian Grand Prix due to a mechanical problem, the Red Bull driver has returned to the same winning form he had last year by scoring victories in Singapore, Japan and Korea. He has gained 45 points on Alonso in the past three grand prix.

"The spirit is perfect in the garage, the atmosphere is great and I think we all want to do our best and to really try and win the race on a Sunday," Vettel said. "I think we've been pushing very hard all season. We have tried lots of stuff. Sometimes it was more successful than other times."

Vettel won last year's inaugural Indian GP, doing so in dominating fashion. He started on the pole and led all 60 laps around the newly built 3.192-mile Buddh International Circuit.

"I loved the track layout last year, but not just because I won the race," Vettel said. "With an average speed of 235 kph (146 mph), the course is the second quickest of the year after Monza (Italy). There is a lot of elevation change around the lap, which adds to the fun, from as much as eight percent downhill and up to 10 percent uphill. It's like a roller coaster. It really has emerged as one of the most challenging circuits on the calendar for the drivers."

Alonso has finished third in three of the past five grand prix, but his retirements in Belgium and Japan due to accidents on the opening lap have been costly for the Ferrari driver in his bid to win a third F1 title. Alonso has three victories this season but has not won since the July 22 German Grand Prix.

Can he get back to his winning ways in India, as well as Abu Dhabi, Austin and Brazil?

"We will see." Alonso said. "It will depend obviously on the updates in the car. I think we will see in India if there are any new parts. If there are, we will need to test them. For sure, the other teams will also bring new parts, maybe more than us, so we need to see which of them are working, which of them are not working and for who they work."

Alonso started and finished third in last year's Indian GP. He has yet to win in Abu Dhabi and Brazil. F1 will compete in Austin for the first time this year.

"We just need a little last step to be as competitive as Red Bull, and I think it will be a beautiful last four races to the end," Alonso added.

Narain Karthikeyan from HRT is the only Indian driver currently in F1. Last year, Karthikeyan replaced Vitantonio Liuzzi in the HRT car for the Indian GP only. He finished three laps behind in 17th.

Series: Formula One. Date: Sunday, Oct. 28. Race: Indian Grand Prix. Site: Buddh International Circuit. Track: 3.192-mile (5.141-kilometer), 16-turn road course. Start Time: 5:30 a.m. (et). Laps: 60. Miles: 191.52 (307.249 km). 2011 Winner: Sebastian Vettel. Television: Speed.