Formula 1

Vettel: I'm not as dominant as Schumacher was

Vettel is well on his way to matching his hero's records (©GettyImages)
Vettel is well on his way to matching his hero's records (©GettyImages).

Sebastian Vettel believes fellow German Michael Schumacher was more dominant during his era in the early 2000's than he is currently.

Vettel, who can claim his fourth world title at this weekend's Japanese Grand Prix, believes the advantage he and Red Bull have over their rivals is not as big as recent races suggest.

"I think there was probably one race that was pretty much an exception, and that was Singapore," said Vettel at Suzuka on Thursday.

"The gap we built up - it was two seconds quicker [per lap] than the cars behind - but that depended on who was behind us.

"In Korea, which is more similar to Spa, that gap was somewhere between three and six seconds for the whole race.

"With Schumacher, it was more like 30 seconds, which is a big difference.

"It is a nice cushion to have when you are three seconds down the road, but one stupid mistake in Korea with a lock up, which is very likely, then three seconds is nothing compared to 30."

Vettel praised the extra hard work Red Bull has put in since the summer break and believes the big difference between now and earlier in the season, is the RB9 can now beat Mercedes in qualifying.

"We were always in a position to finish in strong positions on Sundays, but lately we have been strong in qualifying whereas at the beginning of the year Mercedes definitely seemed to have the upper hand," he said.

"There is no real explanation from our side, no one part that went on our car and all of a sudden it is that much quicker. We were able to improve the car, so arriving in Spa the car was better than it was since Hungary.

"I am sure the others do the same, but it seems we have lots of good parts coming lately.

"Also, there is the factor of understanding the car more than beginning of the season, and we can react quicker to change the set-up in the right manner."

In order to claim that fourth straight world title in Suzuka this weekend, Vettel needs to claim his fifth straight win of the season with Fernando Alonso no higher than eighth.

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