Michael Schumacher has tipped his countryman and protege Sebastian Vettel to eventually beat his record tally of seven world championships. In Austin at the weekend, Red Bull's dominant quadruple title winner surpassed Schumacher's decade-old record of seven wins in a single season.
German Vettel, still just 26, was visibly and audibly emotional when grappling with the significance of the feat, admitting Schumacher had been an "idol" in his youth. "That's the first I hear of that," 44-year-old Schumacher, who retired for the second time at the end of last season, told RTL television when told his friend Vettel considers him a hero.
Schumacher said Vettel can now stand on his own two feet as a true F1 great. "If you look at the consistency of his performances and how he achieves it, it is very unique," the great German said. "There are some really good drivers in the field, but someone who is able to pull together all the facets of the sport so efficiently is very unusual," Schumacher added.
He admitted there are "many parallels" between Vettel's career and his own. "I am sure that when he was a boy he would sit in front of the TV and try to analyse what I am doing. The nice thing is that even now he still calls me and asks questions," said Schumacher.
From that platform, Schumacher added, Vettel could go on to become F1's first ever eight-time world champion. "I have always had the attitude that records are made to be broken," he said. "It is clearly the case that Sebastian is able to achieve the seven titles, as he is still so young and hungry. Maybe he can even go past it. I will definitely cross my fingers for him." (GMM)