Vettel 'has raised his game'

Red Bull Racing team principal Christian Horner believes Sebastian Vettel has "taken another gear" this year as he stands on the brink of successfully defending his Formula One world title.

Vettel yesterday took the chequered flag for the eighth time this season with victory in the Italian Grand Prix, with only Michael Schumacher and Nigel Mansell having won more races in a campaign.

The 24-year-old now has a 112-point cushion to Fernando Alonso, and with just 150 available, it is conceivable he could wrap up back-to-back titles in the next race in Singapore in a fortnight's time.

To put Vettel's dominance into perspective, he could go on holiday from now until the penultimate race in Abu Dhabi and still hold at least a 12-point lead going into that event.

Alternatively, he only needs to finish sixth in one grand prix and seventh in the remaining five, and he would still claim the title.

Assessing the man with the F1 world at his feet, Horner said: "He has evolved as a driver and a young man, and it's easy to forget he is only just 24.

"Certainly he has come into this year with more experience, but it would be very easy to underestimate what he has achieved.

"To have won eight grands prix, to have finished second in the other races bar one when he was fourth, is a phenomenal strike rate.

"He really has taken another gear and delivered phenomenally well this year.

"Mark Webber (his team-mate) is an absolute world-class driver, so to achieve the kind of results Sebastian has, is testimony to the level he is currently at."

Horner maintains there will be no backing off either, as he proved in Monza with his pass on Alonso in his Ferrari.

"It's not in his psyche to do that. When you start driving for the percentages like that, that's when you start to make mistakes," added Horner.

"His approach will be as consistent as it has been, with the target of trying to win each race, but if second is the best result we can achieve on the day, or third or fourth, that's what we'll take.

"But we're going in with the objective of trying to obtain maximum points.

"And anybody who doubted whether he can overtake, he demonstrated very clearly he can with a very brave move on Alonso, with two wheels on the grass. He made it stick."

Following the summer break, Vettel and Red Bull have now triumphed in Italy and Belgium, the two circuits many believed would not suit their car.

No wonder Jenson Button has described them as "pretty flawless" and McLaren team-mate Lewis Hamilton claimed the car "doesn't have any worst tracks".

"It is phenomenal for us to win Monza. A lot of effort went into this race, and we got our homework right," added Horner.

"It's massively rewarding to win two races that theoretically, on paper, should have been two of our weakest."

Another victory in Singapore could be enough for Vettel, dependent on where his rivals finish, so as expected there will be no let up.

"Our approach in Singapore will be exactly the same as every grand prix so far this year - we will go there to try and win it," said Horner.

"We came close last year, so it would be great to win that race, and the championship will take care of itself.

"Our philosophy has been to attack each grand prix weekend, to not cruise and collect points, and that's the right philosophy."


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