Sebastian Vettel should be ranked alongside Schumacher and Fangio, says Horner
Red Bull driver on the verge of fourth successive World Championship
By Pete Gill. Last Updated: 07/10/13 1:43pm
Sebastian Vettel will deserve to be ranked alongside F1's legendary greats Michael Schumacher and Juan Manuel Fangio if he claims a fourth successive World Championship, according to Red Bull boss Christian Horner.
Following his resounding victory in Korea, the German will clinch this year's championship as early as this week if he triumphs in Sunday's Japanese GP and Fernando Alonso, his nearest challenger in the standings, finishes ninth or lower.
Only Fangio and Schumacher have won four consecutive titles in the history of the sport, and asked whether Vettel deserves to be compared to such legendary figures if and when he completes his latest championship triumph, an adamant Horner replied:
"Should he achieve winning four titles in a row, people will have to. He has got to be right up there, he has got to be.
"The level that he is performing at is unbelievable in many respects. We know that Mark [Webber, Vettel's team-mate] is a very talented, very quick racing driver and matching him against that he has been hugely impressive. And he's still developing.
"What you guys don't see is the effort he puts in behind the scenes and the application he has. He is hugely self-critical, he is always looking for ways he can be better and I think it's that inward-looking which keeps propelling himself forward."
Yet such effusive appreciation of Vettel's gifts is far from universal. The 26-year-old has been repeatedly booed on the podium this season and was given a dressing-down in Korea by fellow drivers Nico Rosberg and Jenson Button after he made derogatory comments in Singapore about the work ethic of Red Bull's rivals.
"He knows how hard the team work, he sees that the team is pretty much always the last to leave the paddock," countered Horner.
"For sure, our team is working incredibly hard. You only have to stand here before the end of the curfew to see which team is the last to leave the paddock."
Whether Vettel's ongoing domination of the sport is good for F1 is another moot point. Speaking to reporters in the wake of Vettel's fourth successive victory, a terse Lewis Hamilton admitted he could understand if Red Bull's recent run of success was putting fans to sleep.
"I feel for the fans because I remember the period of time when Michael Schumacher was winning," said the disgruntled Mercedes driver.
"I remember waking up in the morning to watch the start of the race and then going to sleep, and then waking up when it ended because I already knew what would happen. I am pretty sure a lot of people were doing that, at least in my family."
Horner, however, has other ideas - and an altogether different perspective.
"Winning never gets boring," the Red Bull chief responded when told of Hamilton's complaints.