Quadruple World Champion Sebastian Vettel insists that he is not afraid to go head-to-head with any of Formula 1’s very best drivers, suggesting that his next move could be to Ferrari.
Red Bull’s reigning World Champion is ‘safely’ under contract to the energy drink giant for the next couple of years, but some continue to question his talent compared to a driver like Fernando Alonso.
Kimi Raikkonen, after a two-year sabbatical and then a two comeback years with Lotus, has joined Ferrari for 2014, demonstrating that he is not put off by Spaniard Alonso’s perceived position of dominance at the Italian marque.
Vettel insists that he is not afraid to go head-to-head.
“Maybe someday I will be on the same team with Kimi or Fernando,” he told Sport Bild magazine.
“You always want to beat the strongest opponents, so I’m not afraid,” Vettel, who this year will be paired at Red Bull with Daniel Ricciardo, added.
Assessing Vettel’s character, 1996 World Champion Damon Hill said that the young German is nothing like his countryman, mentor and friend Michael Schumacher.
“That’s what makes Formula 1 interesting,” he is quoted by the Times of India. “Vettel is like a puppy, so much enthusiasm, it seems the track is his school playground.”
But Hill thinks that Vettel could be in for a much tougher fight this year, having utterly dominated the second part of the 2013 season, winning nine races on the trot.
“The Championship is likely to go down the wire this time,” he said. “It’s going to be unpredictable with double points proposed in the final race of the season.”
Many believe that it is Vettel’s dominance that motivated Bernie Ecclestone to push so hard for the controversial double points concept.
“It will make things exciting,” said Hill. “I’ve heard a lot of people say it’s stupid but why isn’t it a good idea? Maybe it’s a great idea.”
Not surprisingly, Vettel has slammed double points as “absurd” because it unfairly penalises dominant drivers like himself.
But Formula 1 chief executive Ecclestone told Autoweek: “I said [to Vettel] ‘don’t be too sure that you are going to have an easy year next year’. There is nothing wrong with it for anybody.”
Particularly, Ecclestone added, for the fans and the media.
“The press and television have got a story. [Double points means that] the championship is not over. [other drivers] still have a chance,” he told Formula 1 business journalist Christian Sylt.
Ecclestone also revealed that no one, not even the politically all-powerful Ferrari, can veto the rule change now, as it has been approved by the World Motor Sport Council.
“It is what it is,” a relaxed Raikkonen said during his visit to Ferrari’s Maranello headquarters last week. “It’s the rule and, like it or not, it isn’t going to change.”
The Finn is also laid back about the radical 2014 rules, despite many drivers predicting a huge challenge with the extreme torque of the new V6 engines.
“my feeling is that it’s not going to be as different as people think,” he said. “I might be wrong but hopefully we find out that it’s pretty simple.”
Meanwhile, Raikkonen showed that his recent back surgery appears to have been a complete success, leaping straight from the drivers’ seat of a Ferrari road car, to get over a puddle. (GMM)
Subbed by AJN.