Sebastian Vettel now the perfect Formula 1 driver
Red Bull design guru Adrian Newey says Sebastian Vettel improves as a driver every time he steps into his car – and sees no reason for the 26-year-old's development to slow down anytime soon.
Vettel on Sunday became the youngest ever driver to rack up four world titles, beating Michael Schumacher's previous record for the milestone by six years, with victory in the Indian Grand Prix.
With 36 career wins to his name Vettel stands fourth on the all-time list, and with so much time on his side Formula One's most prized records are conceivably there for the taking further down the line.
Schumacher's tallies of seven world titles and 91 grand prix wins represent formidable targets, but even they could come under threat from a driver who has come to dominate the sport just six years on from making his debut as a fresh-faced 19-year-old.
"Sebastian is not going to get worse, that's for sure," Newey said after seeing Vettel dominate in India.
"He's going to continue to develop, although it's difficult to see how he can develop relative to this season, but no doubt he will.
"As we can continue to build competitive cars then hopefully Sebastian can continue to win more championships with us."
Vettel's win on Sunday was his sixth in succession and 10th overall this season – a display of consistency and efficiency typical of the very greatest talents Formula One has produced.
Newey-designed cars have won countless titles down the years and been driven by the likes of Nigel Mansell, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen, and Newey believes Vettel has earned his place in the very top bracket.
"A lot of people have asked me to compare the drivers I have been lucky enough to work with and it is wholly unfair for me to compare them," Newey said.
"But the one thing they do share is that ability to drive and process at the same time.
"I think that means they can drive while considering and planning what they are going to do next in the race. Then, they can get out of the car afterwards and continue to learn and analyse what happened in the race.
"You see it with Sebastian. You have that impression that each time he gets in the car, he gets in with a bit more knowledge than he got out of it last time."
So good is the German at absorbing information and learning from past errors, Newey feels he is now approaching a point where he can be regarded a perfect racing driver.
"His driving has gone from very talented but slightly raw at times, let's say in 2009, to incredibly well-rounded now," he said.
"In 2009 and 2010 you could occasionally criticise him for making slightly ill-judged moves and having accidents, and you could criticise him possibly for not being able to overtake, as a lot of people felt that if he didn't start from pole and control the race from there, then he was not so good.
"But I think you really cannot make those criticisms any more. It is difficult to see a chink in his armour."
With sweeping regulation changes coming in next year and both driver's and constructor's titles already in the bag, Red Bull could be forgiven for taking their foot off the gas over the closing races in Abu Dhabi, the United States and Brazil.
But with momentum such a key ingredient in F1, Red Bull chief Christian Horner is refusing to allow his rivals to steal a march.
Asked if it really mattered to him whether a Red Bull took the chequered flag over the final three rounds, Horner said: "Absolutely. It's like three FA Cup finals. We want to win every race."