Vettel claims not to know his F1 championship lead

Updated: 2011-07-08 16:14


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Vettel claims not to know his F1 championship lead
Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany celebrates after winning the European F1 Grand Prix in Valencia June 26, 2011. [Photo/Agencies] 

SILVERSTONE, England - Sebastian Vettel claims to be oblivious to the extent of his commanding lead in the Formula One championship, even as he attempts to successfully defend his title.

"I don't know, so please don't tell me," the Red Bull driver said ahead of the British Grand Prix on Sunday. "I don't care. What do I gain? What do I learn from it? Obviously I know I'm in the lead but it doesn't really matter if it is one point or 100."

As the German's rivals are all-too aware he is 77 points ahead of McLaren's Jenson Button and his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber with 11 races still to go.

"We had a great start and some really good races when we scored a lot of points," the 23-year-old Vettel said. "It's not important leading the championship now, the most important time is after the last race as I think we learnt that last year ... with the points system we run today it might be tempting to feel safe."

But Button questioned how Vettel can realistically avoid knowing about his colossal cushion.

"He is a long way in front, and every driver would say 'I'm not looking at the points, not thinking about the championship,' but of course he is," the 2009 world champion said. "He will look at it and say, 'I've got a 77-point lead.' It's massive. If he wanted to he could just pootle around and get points and he would be fine, but that's not the way we are.

"We want to compete and we want to do the best job we can, so he will be quick and competitive all season. He's won the world championship before, he's a much more relaxed driver. We all are second time around when we try and fight for it."

With many in the Silverstone paddock viewing the title as Vettel's to lose, memories have been revived of Michael Schumacher's dominance. The 24-year-old Vettel's compatriot, currently racing with Mercedes, won five consecutive titles between 2000 and 2004 with Ferrari.

"(Vettel's car) is so far ahead in the championship and is too dominant after eight races," said Ferrari's Fernando Alonso, who is fifth in the standings. "It's a dominant position that maybe we don't remember from 2004, Michael's time. It's difficult to compete like this."

The only two races Vettel has not won were taken by Button and his McLaren teammate Lewis Hamilton, both of whom are trying to downplay the prospects of Vettel ruling like Schumacher.

"It's a different time, rules are changing all the time," said Hamilton, who is fourth in the standings, 89 points behind Vettel. "Red Bull have clearly established they're a strong team, but you have lots of other strong teams such as Renault who look like they are getting stronger this year.

"Then you've Mercedes who are there or thereabouts. You've even got Williams. Look at the changes they're going to have over the next couple of years ... there was a lot more to it in the Schumacher days."

And the 31-year-old Button is inspired by his victory in Canada last month, after Vettel's last-lap slide.

"(Red Bull) are very strong in many areas so it's tough to beat them but we've beaten them twice," Button said. "It's not as much as we'd like to beat them but they are beatable ... we are close to them. It's not like they have a massive, massive advantage like one and a half or two seconds or something."

Button also revealed that a jet-skiing accident last week nearly hit his hopes of finishing on the podium for the first time on home soil.

While filming for the BBC with Hamilton, Button jarred his knee after falling awkwardly but he has been given the all-clear to race, despite some lingering pain.

"It was a standup jet ski and we were told not to lean, but I did and fell in a strange way, hitting my knee on it," Button said. "The annoying thing is I can't run on it for four weeks, which is a pain. But I can cycle if I want, and more importantly I can hit pedals hard, which I did in the simulator on Monday, so there are no issues."