Having already said that there was a lot he could learn from the seven-time world champion, Sebastian Vettel has admitted that no-one -- including himself - can expect to fully replace Michael Schumacher in the hearts of German race fans.

Speaking after claiming his first pole position on home soil, the Red Bull Racing driver - dubbed 'Baby Schumi' from his early racing days - insisted that, despite Germany enjoying a resurgence in terms of grand prix representation, Schumacher would remain on a pedestal, even though his return to the sport wasn't producing the results that had been expected of a partnership with Mercedes.

"I don't think anyone can take Michael's place - Michael is Michael and he always will be," Vettel maintained, "To the sport, he's a legend, like other legends, like other great champions [such as] Prost, Senna. He's in the same league and there's no way you can replace someone. Felipe [Massa] races for Brazil [where], obviously, the hero of the past was Ayrton Senna, but Felipe has his own style and his own way. In Spain, the hero is Fernando [Alonso] and no-one will replace him.

"For sure, Michael is the one that everyone is looking up to in Germany and that won't change for quite a long time. I think the records he has set are quite unique, so even though, at the moment, he gets a lot of sh*t, he probably knows what he's doing. I think if you look at his face, he seems relaxed, so he knows what's going on and I think that's also a quality a champion has to have.

"I sat here [in the press conference] on Thursday with Michael, [and] I think great champions know what they're doing. Obviously, at the moment, he's probably not having the easiest time with the car, [and] you need to ask him why that is."

Now leading the vanguard of young German talent, Vettel admits that he is delighted to have so many of his countrymen on the grid, even though, ironically, Schumacher's retirement in 2006 eventually led to Germany losing one of its two grands prix.

"It's good to have young drivers in general coming up," he acknowledged, "It's very close at the top, so it's good that, as a German from Germany, there are lots of drivers - we have quite a lot this season, so it's good for our country.

"I think it's how it goes sometimes, so I don't think that today is a symbolic day which you will always remember and look back to. I think it's good to have so many Germans, it's good for our country, but there will be a time when you have four or five French drivers. At the moment, you have zero, so it changes. Sometimes, you call it good work in the lower categories, sometimes it's probably just luck, but I don't think there's really a real reason. If I look back, when I started karting, Michael was already in F1 and was a world champion, so a lot of kids were inspired by his success and entered karting - and, for sure, if you have one thousand talents, the chance that there's probably one [that is going to reach F1] is higher than if you only have ten or a hundred. There will be one and this one will make it.

"Obviously, it's difficult to push the sport if you don't have one person you can look up to, and I still think that Michael is this person in F1 and motorsport for Germany, so it's good that he came back."


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