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Coulthard: Vettel could be best ever – but he won't dominate

Former Red Bull Racing star-turned-BBC F1 commentator David Coulthard believes Sebastian Vettel could be speeding his way into the sport's history books as its best driver ever
Sebastian Vettel could turn out to be 'the best driver ever in F1', reckons David Coulthard – the man whose retirement at the end of 2008 made way for the young German at Red Bull Racing – but he won't replicate compatriot Michael Schumacher in dominating the sport for years on end.

Even prior to last weekend's Belgian Grand Prix, Vettel was well on his way to clinching a second consecutive drivers' world championship crown in the top flight, and his Spa-Francorchamps victory – his seventh from just twelve starts this season, and in a race that Red Bull hadn't truly been expected to win – has carried the 24-year-old a commanding 92 points clear of any of his rivals in the title standings.

It is a higher score than he amassed in total en route to the laurels last year, and some would say an unassailable margin for any of his pursuers to overcome with only seven grands prix remaining and 175 points now left up for grabs.

Coulthard, indeed, contends that Vettel's outstanding success in 2011 to-date 'has almost certainly assured him of a second successive world title' as 'he continues to sweep all before him' – but the BBC F1 commentator does confess to being perplexed that 'there are still those who question Seb's driving...as if he is simply fortunate to have found himself in a Red Bull, as if he is an average racing driver because he wins races from pole'.

“I think we could well be witnessing the development of the best driver ever in F1,” the Scot wrote in his regular column for The Daily Telegraph. “We can't say yet, of course – only history will judge that – but the fact that Seb continues to improve every aspect of his game, from racecraft to tyre management, building on his natural speed, is indisputable. This has nothing to do with Red Bull or my association with the team. This has everything to do with the way Seb has stepped up his game this year.

“I don't think the standard in F1 has ever been higher than it is now. Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Mark Webber – these guys are world-class. Michael Schumacher has come back and has discovered that first-hand. Seb is simply outperforming everyone.”

Schumacher is the only previous German to have taken F1 by storm, with a record-breaking seven world championship trophies between 1994 and 2004 as he and Ferrari embarked upon an era of absolute supremacy. Vettel has been compared to his elder countryman on many an occasion – much to his chagrin – but Coulthard reasons that history is unlikely to repeat itself given the current state of competitiveness in the sport.

“People are asking whether we are about to see another period of dominance à la Schumacher,” the 40-year-old mused. “I don't think so. Michael was driving a car which never broke down, a car superior to those of his rivals, with unlimited testing and the biggest budget in F1.

“Ferrari and McLaren have the resources and personnel to catch Red Bull, and in fact they have done so; their race pace has been as good as Red Bull's for months now. McLaren probably had the quickest car in Belgium at the weekend – they just didn't get the job done. Seb got it done.

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
09.07.2011- David Coulthard (GBR)
09.04.2011- David Coulthard (GBR)
21.05.2011- David Coulthard (GBR)
25.03.2011- Friday Practice 2, David Coulthard (GBR)
29.05.2011- Celebration, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 race winner, Christian Horner (GBR), Red Bull Racing, Sporting Director  and David Coulthard (GBR)
28.08.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 race winner
28.08.2011- Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
27.08.2011- Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
27.08.2011- Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7 pole position
27.08.2011- Qualifying, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
26.08.2011- Friday Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
26.08.2011- Friday Practice 1, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
26.08.2011- Friday Practice 2, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
25.08.2011- Press conference, Michael Schumacher (GER), Mercedes GP Petronas F1 Team, MGP W02 and Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
25.08.2011- Press conference, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB7
24.06.2017 - Qualifying, Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W08
24.06.2017 - Qualifying, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 pole position
24.06.2017 - Qualifying, 3rd place Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Scuderia Ferrari SF70H, Lewis Hamilton (GBR) Mercedes AMG F1 W08 pole position and 2nd place Valtteri Bottas (FIN) Mercedes AMG F1 W08

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Jeff 67 - Unregistered

August 31, 2011 2:26 PM

100% agree with Coulthard, even though I loathe the 'one finger salute' and aren't particularly Vettel's biggest fan. I can, hover, appreciate his talent. What he has achieved in his short career is remarkable. People say he has won one championship in the best car, whoop-dee-do but he's on his way to a second and he's only been around for 3 years. What more do you want from him? And why did he end up in a top team in the first place? Probably because he's very very good and F1 insiders with access to his telementary are astounded by his ability in the cockpit. To consistently beat Webber, a man that has destroyed the F1 careers of almost all previous F1 team-mates is massively impressive. Helmut Marko, Red Bull's driver advisor, says this year will be telling for Torro Rosso's drivers because it takes three years to develop into a proper F1 driver. But look what Vettel's achieved in three years. It's easy to bemoan the mistakes he's made, but they've been few and far between this

nightsoil - Unregistered

August 31, 2011 1:31 PM

Before some go on to bash Vettel and/or DC, let's just highlight the operative word 'COULD'. In effect, Alonso could, Hamilton could, B. Senna could. I agree with DC, though, that Vettel has improved considerably. Post-Spa 2010 to now, it's been a great year for him. He's certainly got a lot to learn still, but if he continues to practice what he preaches in pc's and interviews, he can continue this impressive run.

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