Former F1 racer Johnny Herbert has warned Sebastian Vettel's rivals that he believes the German's best years are still ahead of him.
The Red Bull driver currently heads the championship standings by 53 points on the back of his sixth win of the campaign and is now hot favourite to wrap up the crown for a fourth successive season.
Should he achieve his goal, the 26-year-old Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher as one of only three men to win four straight championship titles with Alain Prost the only other driver to have taken four championships in his career – albeit not in consecutive seasons.
Speaking to The Sun
, Herbert – now a pundit for Sky
- said he felt Vettel was more than capable of challenging the records set by countryman Schumacher, who has the most wins and most pole positions of anyone to have competed in the sport.
The Briton – who partnered Schumacher at Benetton – added that he saw plenty of similarities between the two German drivers, particularly because of the ruthless manner in which Vettel beat team-mate Mark Webber to victory in Malaysia earlier in the year.
“I don't think we've seen the best of him and he will continue to grow,” he said of Vettel. “He definitely has a good chance of breaking Michael's record. And numbers — championships, wins, pole positions etc — are in Sebastian's DNA.
“There does seem to be a similarity with Michael, especially this year when we have seen a very different Sebastian Vettel. We saw it particularly in that controversy in Malaysia early in the year, when he overtook his team-mate Mark Webber to grab the win.
“That was definitely a 'Michael moment'. Sebastian showed he was willing to take everything he can, when he can, as soon as he can – and that's what Michael would have done. Michael was always about winning the championship as soon as possible so it was wrapped up early on.
“Even in press conferences now Sebastian sounds just like Michael – the words he uses and the context in which he uses them. You could definitely call him a Schumacher MkII.”