Aug.2 (Inautonews.com/GMM) Sebastian Vettel should not be worried about his 2011 championship running off track.
That is the view of the Red Bull driver’s rivals as well as pundits and journalists despite a third consecutive defeat for Vettel in Hungary last weekend.
German newsmagazine Focus observed that while Budapest winner Jenson Button “laughed” on the podium, it was the sullen Vettel who had “scored” by actually pulling out his championship lead to a huge 85 points.
“It is really beginning to look like it is a case of when, and not if, he will seal his second world title,” former driver Johnny Herbert wrote in his latest column for The National.
Some pundits believe Vettel needs to worry, however, given that McLaren and also Ferrari look to have caught up with his previously-dominant RB7 car.
“But,” Herbert insisted, “Vettel’s lead is so vast that just finishing in the top four or five regularly should be enough to see him home.”
Also pessimistic is Marc Gene, Ferrari’s test driver who writes a column for the Spanish newspaper El Mundo.
“Our resurgence has been outstanding,” he said, “but unfortunately the championship situation is not changing much.”
Italy’s La Gazzetta dello Sport said the remaining races this season will be closely contested by Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari, but likened the actual championship battle to a runaway leader in the Giro d’Italia bike race.
“It’s too late for the championship as the pink jersey is far ahead,” said the sports newspaper.
“Vettel no longer has a performance advantage but now he can use his head more than his foot, while behind him the protagonists take points off each other.”
Former Renault boss Flavio Briatore told Onda Cero radio on Monday that the world championship “is over” unless “something tragic happens”.
Agreed Force India’s Nico Hulkenberg, who called the Hungarian grand prix with German Sky television: “That (Vettel’s second place) is how he will become world champion.”
For instance, Button – then with Brawn GP – won the title in 2009 with a smaller mid-season points advantage, a smaller and less financially-powerful team, and more pressure given that he was charging for his first title.
“If I had the lead he’s got, I wouldn’t be feeling any pressure at all,” the Briton told The Independent.
Button headed to Hawaii this week to begin F1’s summer break, and Bild newspaper reports that Vettel is Mallorca-bound.
“I need a bit of energy from the sun,” the 24-year-old German is quoted by Die Welt.
Said Italy’s Tuttosport: “Vettel can enjoy his holiday in peace.”