Silverstone, July 7, 2011 (AFP) - Defending drivers world champion and this season's runaway leader German Sebastian Vettel said on Thursday that he is taking for nothing for granted as he closes in on his second title.
Arriving at Silverstone ahead of this weekend's British Grand Prix with a lead of 77 points, he avoided all talk of dominance and instead stressed he is taking each race as it comes and focussing on his own targets.
Instead of any talk of supremacy, he said he continued to do his job in the same way now as he did on his way to the title last year - and believed, and hoped, he has enough confidence and performance to do well again in Sunday's race.
Compared to 12 months ago, when he was beaten by his Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber, he said he feels his outlook is unchanged. "I think the brain is still the same. I didn't change it," he laughed. "But the nice bit...my biggest dream was to become Formula One world champion -- we obviously achieved that last year. It took some time to sink in and understand that it happened.
"But the best thing about it is the fact that no-one can change that now. No-one can take this away from me, from us, any more. Whatever happens in the future this will always be there. "More than anything else you try to prove a point to yourself. Of course you want to show the people, you want to show the team. But most of all you want to show yourself you're good enough to be at the top and good enough to win the championship.
"If I compare this year to last year, the way I approach races there's not much difference. It would be wrong to feel too comfortable or secure."
Vettel's mixture of laid-back ease out of his car and dazzling virtuosity in it has dominated Formula One for the last two years to the frustration of former champions like two-times champion Spaniard Fernando Alonso and Britons Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button.
As his rivals have written off their own chances of catching him, however, he has worked determinedly to keep his feet on the ground. "I don't arrive like that," he said, when asked if he felt this season was
easy for him.
"Obviously, when we arrive we are confident and we believe in ourselves. And we believe that we can have a good weekend. But I can't take it for granted to arrive and say pole, race. It never comes easy. "In terms of mindset I try to have the same approach as last year. I think last year we had a good start but many things going wrong at some time, mistakes here and there. Also I did mistakes.
"All in all it didn't help us to put ourselves in a strong position for the championship. We were really relying on every single race at the end. This year we had a very good start and it can help us in the end, that's for sure.
But it's still a long, long way. Only once has a driver failed to win the title after building up such an
outstanding lead and that was in 1976 when the Austrian Niki Lauda was forced to miss two races after suffering terrible burns in a crash during the German Grand Prix.
He held a 33-points advantage - when the scoring system was significantly different with just nine awarded for a win - but failed as Briton James Hunt reeled off four wins in the second half of the season to triumph by one point.
Vettel said: "You never know, do you? If you look at championships in the past, it went according to plan and others when it didn't. "It reminds me how quickly things can change. It takes two or three bad races and it could be a different story again. We've seen last year, with the points system.
"On the one hand you might have a big gap, a big number, but it's a bit fake because you are tempted by the big number. But then you get 25 points for a win, but zero if you don't finish."