Suzuka, Japan, Oct 7, 2011 (AFP) - Seven-time Formula One world champion Michael Schumacher believes fellow German Sebastian Vettel will savour his second crown as much as the first if he wins the title in Japan on Sunday.
Vettel, who needs to finish just 10th this weekend at Suzuka to become the youngest two-time champion in Formula One history, won the 2010 championship in the last race in Abu Dhabi in a nail-biting finish to the season. By contrast, the 24-year-old Red Bull driver won five of the first six races this season and has cantered to within a point of the title with five races remaining.
While Vettel's road to a potential second consecutive crown has been far smoother in 2011, the 42-year-old Mercedes driver said Friday his compatriot will value this year's title just as much.
"The moment you win the championship... it may be slightly different if you go to a race and not anticipate you will win the championship there but you do, or if you come to a race and it is basically clear after it that you will be champion," said Schumacher. "But it differs a very small amount. Once you have done it, at least in my experience, you go out and have fun with the team -- and then you get focused for the next race onwards."
Schumacher, who sits in eighth place in this year's championship with 52 points, finished the two Friday practices at Suzuka in ninth and sixth places respectively, ahead of compatriot and teammate Nico Rosberg in both sessions. Schumacher has won at Suzuka six times in his storied career, but felt his position after the second practice session did not reflect the outright pace of his Mercedes.
"We are aware that the character of our car and the character of this track are not a perfect match and there are areas still to work on," he said.
"It was a pretty typical two practice sessions today. From what I have seen so far, I would guess we will find ourselves qualifying in the region we have been lately."
Rosberg was 16th and seventh in the two sessions, and was three-tenths of a second adrift of his compatriot's pace in second practice.