Vettel puts pedal to the metal

Josh Barber contributed to this report.

Lauda, Nelson Piquet, the late Ayrton Senna and Sir Jackie Stewart. All have many things thing in common, winning the Formula 1 world championship three times, becoming some of the sport’s most well-known names in the process.

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Vettel has once again been imperious. Photo: Nick J Webb (via Flickr)

If Sebastian Vettel wins the Japanese Grand Prix and Fernando Alonso finishes lower than eighth, the German superstar will have surpassed these greats, and finding himself in the four-time championship company of Alain Prost.

Only Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher will hold more titles than the young German, with five and seven respectively, prompting questions such as ‘Is Vettel one of the greatest drivers to walk the planet?’, ‘Is his raging red bull doing most of the work for him?’ and ‘Is his dominance boring the fans?’

The problem with dominance in formula one is that it can make it extremely tedious for fans to watch. However thrilling some of the battles may be between the runners-up, the fans want to see the best drivers battling it out for the top prize.

Even British driver Lewis Hamilton has had his say on the situation.

When Michael Schumacher won his fourth out of five unprecedented titles in 2003, Hamilton was 18. Making a name for himself in Formula Renault, he would watch formula one as added motivation to get to where he wanted to be.

After the Korean grand prix however, Hamilton drew a direct comparison between the dominance of Schumacher and Vettel. He said “I feel for the fans because I remember the period of time when Michael Schumacher was winning. I remember waking up in the morning to watch the start of the race and then going to sleep, and then waking up when it ended because I already knew what would happen. ”.

Vettel had his say on the situation and responded to Hamilton’s claims in Thursday’s press conference, saying, “There was one race in Singapore which was an exception, but if you take Korea the gap was between three and ten seconds for the whole race. If you look at ten years ago, the gap was thirty to sixty seconds – which is a big difference.”

If the fans are becoming bored though, the sport could see a negative impact, with some suggesting ticket sales to races for the 2014 season could fall due to the dominance of the German.

There is no doubting that Sebastian Vettel has outstanding talent. Race after race he breaks records, and so far this season he has led 449 of 825 laps raced, gaining the quickest race lap time on 13 out of 14 outings.

Since winning his first title in 2010, the German driver has won 40% of all races. However, the quality of the car has certainly helped the German on his way over the last four years. With or without Vettel the Red Bull car is undoubtedly the quickest in the paddock and has been for the last few seasons. However talented he is, we may not know his full potential unless he makes a move to another team.

Schumacher became a double world champion in 1994/95 with Benetton before taking on a completely new challenge at Ferrari in 1996. It wasn’t until 2000 when Schumacher won another world championship, taking Ferrari from being a middle of the field team to a world championship winning outfit, going on to win the world title a record five times in a row.

Many critics and fans would like to see Vettel do a similar thing to finally put to bed any suggestions that he doesn’t belong in the same bracket as the all-time greats.

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