Formula One: British Grand Prix homecoming script can be torn by Vettel
Sebastian Vettel has brushed off suggestions he is the dark horse of this year's Formula One championship and that age will count against him over the run-in.
In contrast to Ferrari star Fernando Alonso and McLaren duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button, Vettel finds himself up against three world champions.
And a comparison to Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber shows Vettel has 52 grand prixs to his name, 95 fewer than the Australian.
Although 23-year-old Vettel was second to Button in last year's title race, in going up against such exalted company on this occasion, it would be fair to suggest he is the outsider.
“It's never really a question of age. If you are quick enough you are old enough,” said Vettel, who was third quickest behind Webber at the end of yesterday's two practice sessions for the British Grand Prix.
“This year is very tight, with a lot of drivers fighting for the championship, and this year's points system also confuses people.
“If you look at other drivers who are quite a bit behind, if all of a sudden they improve their car, they can win a couple of races and score big points and take a huge step. It can change so quickly.
“We've seen this season that Jenson won two races and he was the leader, then Mark won two races, and boom, he was the leader. The same for Lewis who was behind, but he won two races and he was the leader, so the most important thing is to finish well all the time and make sure there are no DNFs (did not finish).”
In many respects, despite winning the last grand prix in Valencia and the race at Silverstone a year ago, Vettel has managed to creep under the radar into this year's British event.
Naturally, the focus has been on the British drivers, Webber after his comments on the pair, as well as Alonso after his outspoken remarks in the wake of the safety car furore that unfolded in Valencia.
“It's not a surprise if you have a British Grand Prix people will talk about the locals,” added Vettel.
“Lewis and Jenson are here sitting one and two in the championship, so it would be a shame if they weren't being talked about, just as people will talk about us Germans when we go to Hockenheim. Obviously my target is to spoil all their plans and have a nice weekend for myself and the team, and repeat what happened last year.”
Over the two 90-minute sessions, McLaren clearly struggled to make their new upgrade package work, with Hamilton notably running wide into corners and trundling across the grass on two occasions. Hamilton and Button finished eighth and 12th, the latter just under two seconds down on Webber, suggesting it could be another Red Bull weekend.