Sebastian Vettel has 'the genes to one day become world champion' in Formula 1 – that is the verdict on the German youngster by none other than compatriot and record-breaking seven-time title-winner Michael Schumacher.
Vettel became the sport's youngest-ever winner when he famously triumphed for Scuderia Toro Rosso in the Italian Grand Prix at Monza aged 21 years and 74 days back in September. Though the now Red Bull Racing star has dismissed any comparisons with Schumacher, the legendary 91-time grand prix winner has agreed that his countryman – with whom he teamed up to successfully defend Germany's Nations' Cup glory in Wembley's Race of Champions at the weekend – could go on to follow in his wheeltracks one day in lifting the sport's ultimate laurels.
“I enjoy watching him,” admitted the 39-year-old in an interview with Italian newspaper La Gazzetta dello Sport
. “He has his own personality, the team needs to help him to develop and the results will come. He has the genes to one day become world champion; he demonstrated that this year.”
The man from Kerpen also shared his views on F1's new cost-cutting regulations being brought into force from the 2009 season and beyond [see separate story – click here
] – as well as Bernie Ecclestone's contentious suggestion for the traditional points system to be replaced by Olympic-style gold, silver and bronze medals.
“In my time they changed it to stop me winning,” he quipped, “and now they want to change it to allow others to win...
“I agree with the need to save money, though. It was something that needed to happen, and the FIA has made it happen. It's clear to me that racing cannot close its eyes to what is happening on an economic level throughout the world. It's important to be very attentive to taking the right steps, and it seems to me that the FIA and FOTA are doing this in the correct manner.
“Potentially I think it can make the sport more exciting, but the top teams will remain the top teams, because they have the best people and organisations. Some other teams may take a step forwards, but the fact of simply having new regulations won't be enough to overturn the order.
“I'm neither an aerodynamicist nor a designer or technician, but the essential point is to reduce the aerodynamic significance and increase the mechanical importance. The new cars should be able to run closer to each other, and that may be enough to improve the spectacle.”