Martin Whitmarsh might be stressing that 'we have got to keep pushing' and that given 'there are seven races left', there are 'seven races we can win' – but McLaren-Mercedes test-driver Pedro de la Rosa has advised the team to 'forget' the F1 2011 title now and instead focus completely on 2012.
Following his Belgian Grand Prix victory at Spa-Francorchamps last weekend – his seventh from just twelve races this year to-date – runaway world championship leader Sebastian Vettel holds a commanding 92-point advantage over any of his pursuers in the chase for the coveted crown, and McLaren duo Jenson Button and Lewis Hamilton are respectively 18 and 21 points further adrift still. Despite Whitmarsh's insistence that 'we have got to be positive' [see separate story – click here
], de la Rosa is singing from a different hymn sheet.
“Perhaps this is the moment to forget Spa,” the 40-year-old Spaniard wrote in his column for formulasantander.com
, calling for a sense of realism at Woking. “Perhaps it is even the moment to forget the drivers' world championship. Forgetting the calculator now, and accepting that there is already virtually a winner of this world championship, we can begin to think of 2012 and how to avoid at all costs the domination of Red Bull being prolonged for another season.”
Former ten-time grand prix-winner Gerhard Berger is another to subscribe to the theory that Vettel is no longer likely to be caught – but the Austrian agreed that the defending F1 World Champion is right to be keeping the champagne on ice just for the moment.
“As long as [defeat] is still theoretically possible, it is bad luck in sports to celebrate in advance,” he told Red Bull-linked Servus TV
, “but for me there is no question – barring a disaster for him, this year's world champion is Sebastian Vettel.”