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2013-10-29 07:36

TAKING ON SCHUMI'S RECORD: Sebastian Vettel (right) earned his fourth consecutive F1 title in 2013, a record previously earned by Michael Schumacher (left) and Juan Manuel Fangio. Image: AFP/AP


NEW DELHI, India - Sebastian Vettel has the talent to overtake Michael Schumacher's record seven Formula 1  titles, according to Red Bull team boss Christian Horner.

Schumacher won 91 races, for Benetton and Ferrari from 307 starts. Vettel, still only 26, chalked up his 36th career win in 117 races at the 2013 Indian GP on October 27 to seal his fourth consecutive crown.

Horner said: "His win record is quite incredible. There's so many things in this sport that determine that. It depends on being in the right machinery as well, but from a skill point of view there's absolutely no reason why not."


Vettel led from pole, winning in India for the third year in a row, and Horner and Red Bull design genius Adrian Newey said Vettel was still improving.

Newey said: "I think Sebastian has grown this year. The way he's driven, the level at which he's delivered, it's been his best year yet. He's raised the bar continually."

Newey, who has won titles with three teams (Williams, McLaren, Red Bull) in his stellar career and worked with greats such as four-times champion Alain Prost and Ayrton Senna, had no doubt that Vettel was up there with them. Numbers alone, he said, mattered less than the manner of achieving that success.

Newey said: "The great drivers I have been lucky enough to work with all had that ability to drive and process at the same time."

Vettel, like the others, learned from his mistakes. He had complete recall when he got out of the car and continued to analyse and learn from what had happened during the race.


Newey said: "You see it with Sebastian all the time. I have the impression that every time he gets in the car he gets in with a bit more knowledge than the previous time. His driving has gone from very talented but slightly raw at times to incredibly well-rounded. You could occasionally (in 2009 and 2010) criticise him for making slightly ill-judged moves and having accidents.

"You could criticise him possibly for not being able to overtake. I think a lot of people felt that if he didn't start from pole and control the race from the front he was not so good. I think you really can't make those criticisms any more. It's difficult to see a chink in his armour - he learns all the time."

Schumacher was able to mould his Ferrari team around him as the clear No.1 and he reaped the benefits of that. Even then, the Shumacher's decision to leave Benetton for Ferrari in 1995 after winning two titles meant he had to wait another five years before becoming champion again.

Vettel, who is well aware of his place in F1 history, could be tempted to do likewise one day but his Red Bull bosses are confident that that day is a long way off.

Horner said: "It's all about the team, isn't it? You need a great team and great drivers. He is now one of the all-time greats. He joins a very select few but it needs everything to work in harmony - you can have the best driver in the world or the best designer in the world but if you don't have the right team and work as a team it will never work."

Vettel has been part of the Red Bull programme since his early teens, just as Lewis Hamilton was nurtured by McLaren from a similar age. Hamilton left for Mercedes in 2012 but Horner said it was not a given that his driver would want a change.

"There are no guarantees but it's not about contracts, it's about relationships."

Newey, a prime target himself of all the top teams, agreed the bond between Vettel and Red Bull was special. "I think we've managed to create a very honest sporting team, we don't pretend to be anything we're not. We're an F1 team operating out of relatively scruffy factory units in Milton Keynes, nothing glamorous."

Read more on:    red bull  |  india  |  f1  |  motorsport  |  formula 1

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