Sebastian Vettel only gets stronger the closer it gets to the end of a championship battle, according to his former boss Christian Horner.
For the first time since his last title win in 2013, Vettel returns from the summer break at the head of the standings with the German aiming to win his fifth Drivers’ Championship, but Ferrari’s first in a decade.
Horner, who oversaw all four of Vettel’s titles at Red Bull, believes the 30-year-old’s mental strength is a key weapon in his armoury as a championship run-in ramps up.
“Sebastian is a very focused individual so he handled pressure extremely well,” said the Red Bull team principal.
“It was almost the more pressure that came on, the better he would respond to it. Particularly when you got to the business end of a championship, he was remarkably strong in his head and his approach.
“So generally when you got to the flyaway races you knew you were within a sniff of having a crack at the championship that he’d deliver from his side.
“His approach, his application, his attention to detail and his work ethic were all things that enabled him to deliver those four consecutive titles.”
In his four championship-winning years, Vettel won 64 per cent of the races after F1 came back from its summer holidays in the run to the end of the season – including a record nine in a row in 2013 from Spa onwards. His strike rate up to the August break was just 30 per cent.
Horner added: “Of course, two [title battles] in 2010 and 2012 went to the wire – ’12 in particular.
“He’d won one race by the time we left Europe and then he won four on the bounce as soon as we went to Singapore onwards.”
Vettel heads into final nine races of this season, the first of which is the Belgian GP, holding a 14-point advantage over nearest challenger Lewis Hamilton after securing his fourth win of the season in Hungary at the end of July.
Don’t miss the Belgian GP live on Sky Sports F1 on Sunday – lights out for the race is at 1pm. Check out all the ways to watch F1 on Sky Sports for subscribers and non-subscribers – including a NOW TV day pass for £6.99!
If you are using skysports.com you can comment below to get involved in the debate, but please adhere to our House Rules. If you wish to report any comment, simply click on the down arrow next to the offending comment and click ‘Report’.