Sebastian Vettel has asked the Formula One media to stop comparing him with countryman Michael Schumacher, insisting that his maiden with Toro Rosso at Monza over the weekend does not warrant comparison.
Already dubbed 'baby Schumi' by the German press, Vettel has made waves since his F1 debut, with BMW Sauber, at last year's US Grand Prix, but finally broke through into the wider consciousness by claiming both pole position and the race victory for the former Minardi team in a remarkable Italian Grand Prix, that saw the expected favourites struggle to come to terms with adverse weather conditions.
Vettel, by contrast, tamed the soaking Monza circuit in qualifying, topping two of the three sessions, and then led from start to finish in the 53-lap race, rarely putting a wheel wrong as he gave, not only Toro Rosso, but sponsor Red Bull a first trip to the top step of the podium.
However, one win - even as the youngest driver ever to take an F1 victory - did not make him the next Michael Schumacher, he insisted, claiming that the seven-time world champion did not bear comparison with any
of the current crop of F1 drivers.
"I think, first of all, you have to realise what this guy achieved in the past," he explained, "To compare anybody among us drivers - and, probably, Fernando [Alonso] is the closest, as he's a two-time world champion - I think is a bit ridiculous.
"Obviously, I'm very young, and at a very early stage of my career, but therefore I think there's no need to make a comparison. He's probably one of the best drivers we have ever seen. I'm proud, in a way, because I know him. He's a very nice guy and completely down to earth."
Showing similar qualities, Vettel also admitted that he did not expect to be a frontrunner at every grand prix from now on.
"I won't go to Singapore and feel like a hero and the superstar and expect another race win just like that - it's not going to be like that," he noted, "Where I come from and how I grew up, I am down to earth enough to realise what happened today and to understand the approach for the next races. I have been in similar situations in the past - obviously, not in Formula One as we know - and, obviously, a normal race is difficult for us to win and repeat this kind of result, with pole position and victory, but we will fight."
For next season, the 21-year old is heading to Red Bull's Renault-powered 'senior' team, but he maintains that that is not a backward step, despite observers rightly pointing out that Toro Rosso has had the upper hand in recent races - and has now taken a one-point lead over its sister in the constructors' standings. While next year looks secure, STR's long-term future remains in the hands of Red Bull brand magnate Dietrich Mateschitz, who has threatened to offload the minnow pending clarification of the customer car rules.
"For the future, no matter what happens, next year I am going to race for Red Bull Racing, but I don't see that it's a step backwards," Vettel claimed, "Obviously, we have probably been stronger in the last couple of races, we have been stronger than they were, but there's no secret, I think the package is similar. We have been working very hard, I believe, because many people find the excuse in the engine. I believe that we have a strong engine in the back, with the Ferrari package, but I don't think that's all.
"In the end, you still have to get the job done. People have seen, now, and we have underlined in the last couple of races, that we have a strong package going towards the end of the season, so I hope that we can score some more points. Going into the top ten, last qualifying, I think is still a big success for us as well."