Vettel set to ‘pootle’ to 2011 title image

( Sebastian Vettel at Silverstone asked reporters not to mention his 77 point championship lead.

Even with the effect of the FIA’s blown exhaust clampdown still not fully known, the Red Bull driver is the overwhelming favourite to win a second consecutive title this year.

But when asked about his runaway lead on Thursday, the 23-year-old German insisted: “I don’t know (what it is) so please don’t tell me.

“I don’t care. What do I gain? What do I learn from it? Obviously I know I’m in the lead, but it doesn’t really matter if it is one point or 100.”

But McLaren’s Jenson Button, who along with Mark Webber is Vettel’s nearest points challenger, denied it is a situation that will be making the reigning world champion nervous.

“I think if I were in that position I could sleep, wouldn’t you?” said the Briton. “He doesn’t really need to play any mind games, does he?

“If he wanted to, he could just pootle around, pick up the points and be fine. His lead is massive,” insisted Button.

Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso agrees that 2011 is close to being game over.

“If he hadn’t made mistakes in China and in Canada, he would have won eight races out of eight. His Red Bull is the most dominant car of all time, possibly more so than Schumacher’s Ferrari in 2004,” La Gazzetta dello Sport quotes the Spaniard as saying.

Said former F1 driver Jos Verstappen in his De Telegraaf column: “We can only hope now that the fight for second place is good.”

Another veteran, Mika Salo, told Turun Sanomat newspaper: “Vettel can’t be stopped now. No chance, not with a car and self-confidence as strong as that.”