Michael Schumacher has again shown his support for countryman Sebastian Vettel's F1 title challenge, but admits that it is up to both the driver and his Red Bull team to get their act together over the seven-race run-in that will determine the destiny of the championship.
Despite throwing away the chance of victory in Hungary last time out, Vettel's eventual third-place finish confirmed him in the same position in the overall standings, just ten points of RBR team-mate Mark Webber, who returned to the top of the table with an unexpected victory in Budapest. The pair currently sandwich McLaren's Lewis Hamilton, with the Briton's team-mate Jenson Button fending off Ferrari's resurgent Fernando Alonso in fourth.
Vettel's faux pas
behind the safety car at the Hungaroring highlighted the rollercoaster nature of his season, with mistakes and technical problems with the RB6 blunting his challenge. Despite that, Schumacher believes that the two-time race winner can mount a renewed assault on top spot as F1 prepares for its 'flyaway' finish.
"His car seems to be very competitive and very strong, [but] there have been some slightly unfortunate moments during the year, so now it's up to him to see how consistently his performances can improve," the veteran commented, "He can take the points [and], certainly, he's in a very good position to fight for the championship but, as I said before, it's tight.
"You depend on your development and so many things - and a bit of luck - but, at the end of the day, it's down to you. He's had some bad luck already, so let's hope for the rest of the season he can count on [good] luck."
Turning his attention to his own campaign, Schumacher admitted that it was unlikely that he would be able to go head-to-head with Vettel, given that the works Mercedes team has openly decided to focus on next season.
"I guess that we sort of have to see where maybe we can use the strengths that the car has and where maybe it is a little bit more difficult," he conceded, "That is something to find out and maximise our opportunities. Naturally, we want to still take as many points as possible to stay as high up in the constructors' [championship] as possible. These are the targets and, naturally, we keep on working within limits to achieve this. But then, yes, the focus is on next year's car."