New Delhi, Sep 11 (IANS) Who does he think can stop him from winning the Formula 1 drivers' championship for the fourth successive year? "Nobody, I hope," quips Sebastian Vettel, who leads the title race by 53 points over his nearest rival, Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, after the 12th of the 19-race card.
For all his disarming modesty, the 26-year-old German, with 222 points, looks well on course to win the World Championship for Red Bull.
"If you ask the others they probably will tell you that they're trying very hard. But I am not thinking about the championship and the title too much. It's good to know that you're in a strong position, but anything can happen between now and the Brazilian chequered flag," Vettel, who has won six of the 12 races in 2013, told IANS in an e-mail interview.
"If you look back to last year or 2010, it went down to the wire. So never feel too comfortable where you are. Fernando can pose a challenge as he is consistent and quick."
With Felipe Massa's inconsistent form, there was talk in the Formula 1 paddock about Vettel's move to Ferrari. However, the three times World Champion scotched all rumours by extending his Red Bull contract till the end of the 2015 season.
But wasn't it his childhood dream to race for the Italian team?
"Of course, as my hero Michael Schumacher was wearing red, so as a youngster you imagine yourself taking the place of your idol. Now I see it differently. I am very happy in blue and very happy with the team I am racing for," said Vettel, who has helped his team win the constructors' championship comprehensively from 2010-12.
The champion has already broken several records.
He is the youngest to win a Grand Prix at 21 years and 73 days. He is already third in the list of most number of pole positions (40), after Schumacher (68) and the late great Ayrton Senna (65) and is tied fourth in the exalted list of most Grand Prix victories with 32.
Does he set targets like becoming one of the most successful F1 drivers?
"No, such thoughts never cross my mind. I love what I am doing and of course I want to be successful, but I am not waking up in the morning thinking 'Wow, 2011 was a fantastic year, 2012 was awesome', and so on. I want to do the best that I can today - not yesterday and not tomorrow," said Vettel, who won the Italian Grand Prix Sunday.
The Red Bull driver has had a frosty relationship with his teammate Mark Webber. The Australian has decided to quit Formula 1 at the end of the season and Vettel's attitude towards him is attributed as one of the reasons.
"To believe that would be very childish. He is the master of his own fate and he had the opportunity to remain with us or somebody else. I don't know where else his options could have been. Every driver seeks these things out for himself. The picture that people have had for some years about Mark's situation in the team is very wrong. I know that; so I don't think that I had any influence on his decision," explained Vettel.
He added that whatever be the changes in the engines envisaged for next year, the driving skills will be paramount. He doesn't believe the introduction of the 1.6 litre turbocharged V6 engines will have any major bearing on driving.
"We all have to get used to the new cars. But the skills that you need to be successful will not change; they will always remain the same, whichever be the car or the driver."
(Sandip Sikdar can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org)