In what may be interpreted as an admission that his own title hopes are now all-but dead-and-buried, defending world champion Jenson Button has tipped Sebastian Vettel to 'have the advantage' over Red Bull Racing team-mate Mark Webber should the Abu Dhabi F1 2010 season finale boil down to a straight shoot-out between the pair.
It is Webber who has led the way in the drivers' standings for much of the year, but of the Red Bull duo, Vettel is the one who is inarguably currently on-form, off the back of a close runner-up finish to Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in Singapore and a sublime victory in Japan last weekend.
The German has outscored his Australian colleague in each of the last three races to close to within just 14 points of him heading next to Korea, and holds a ten-six lead in the qualifying stakes to-boot. Should the Korean and Brazilian results mirror that of Suzuka – a one-two finish, with Vettel ahead – then the pair would be equal on points heading into the crucial UAE showdown, and Button knows who his money would be on.
“Vettel has to beat Mark twice more to be on the same points,” mused the British star, who has piled the pressure on Webber on a number of occasions this season already [see here
]. “Going into the last race with equal points, I would say Vettel has the legs in qualifying and over three races would have the advantage over Mark. If those two cars have the advantage over everyone else, there won't be pressure on Vettel and he will do it.”
RBR team principal Christian Horner has similarly sung his young protégé's praises in the wake of his supreme, lights-to-flag Japanese success – a second dominant performance at Suzuka in as many years from the 23-year-old Heppenheim native.
“One of Sebastian's strengths of character is the self-belief that he has, and I don't think he has ever doubted for one moment that he is out of this championship,” the Englishman revealed. “Seb has responded in the best possible way.
“We are fortunate in the team to have two level-headed and strong-willed drivers, and while that inevitably poses challenges at times, it is a luxury problem to have. I am delighted with the performance of the two drivers, and I obviously hope they keep performing at this level over the remaining three races.”