Michael Schumacher sees no reason why his successor as Germany's F1 darling cannot match or surpass his haul of championship titles.
With Sebastian Vettel all but set to record a fourth consecutive title in 2013, Schumacher believes that the Red Bull driver has time on his side to equal his own record of seven crowns, even if RBR suffers a blip in its current dominance.
Vettel has dropped hints that he will not go on racing for as long as many expect, and has also been linked to a possible move to Ferrari which, on current form, would represent a step backwards, but Schumacher told Belgium's Vier
television channel that the youngster he first met while handing out karting trophies at his family's Kerpen circuit can set new marks for the sport.
“Records are there to be beaten,” said Schumacher, who is acting as an advisor to the Tonykart team at this weekend world championship round in the UK, “They motivated me when I was racing and, in the end, I achieved it. Believe me, if Sebastian was able to surpass what I did, I would be happy for him. In a short time he has won three titles, so why couldn't he win seven? He has the best package, and championships are usually won by the best.”
Should Vettel go on to notch up his fourth title this season – and he is currently 46 points ahead of Fernando Alonso – he would do so six years ahead of Schumacher, who had to wait until he was 32 to reach the same mark.
Although Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Kimi Raikkonen may yet have something to say about it, Vettel remains the consensus pick to claim this year's crown, with former Benetton, McLaren and Williams driver Alex Wurz among those seeing the destiny of the title as a foregone conclusion.
“An early world title for Vettel,” the Austrian's predicted when asked by Germany's SpeedWeek
, before insisting that that would not necessarily be a bad thing.
“It depends on your perspective,” he continued, “If you take a step back, I think it's good because it shows that, despite everything, F1 is still a sport, where the best one wins, even if it's early. For me, it's good because it means F1 is a pure sport and not influenced artificially.”