Can Anyone Stop Sebastian Vettel?

An extract from the full Formula One season preview in the latest issue of Esquire Weekly, four former Formula One aces answer the questions that promise to make this the most exciting season in years.

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David Coulthard (Winner of 13 Grands Prix and expert on BBC's F1 team):

"Any championship win is built on a solid winter, and for whatever reason, Red Bull seem to be several weeks behind the others. Having said that, as the engine gets sorted, they'll take big steps, so don't write them off. It's a bit like if you have an amazing suit jacket, but the button's popped – it's going to look pretty crap. But the thing that's going to make it look amazing is a one Euro button. It's the same with the car. One gadget might unleash all the performance in that engine. And once Red Bull identify it, they'll be like a steam train. All the excitement could be their comeback over the course of the year."

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Johnny Herbert (Winner of three Grands Prix and Sky Sports F1 presenter):

"Vettel has very few weakness – he's consistent, he has raw pace and the ability to immerse himself completely in the technology so he can direct it on the day. But Jenson Button did show in that final lap in Canada in 2011 that when Vettel's under pressure, he can make a mistake. He's only human. Everyone has got closer to Red Bull now.  In the past – no matter what the track has been, or what the conditions were like – Red Bull have always managed to be competitive. Because he's had the car, Vettel's been able to deliver. Once there's a different pressure – the pressure of being behind, the pressure of pushing harder – mistakes might creep in."

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Anthony Davidson (Former Formula One racer with and  Sky Sports F1 presenter):

"He definitely can be stopped. There are many multiple ex-champions on the grid and they didn't get there by chance. They're very capable of winning races and championships as they've proved in the past. With the mix of new regulations and equipment it's all going to come tumbling down in a completely different order from last year and the years gone by. Vettel's just had a baby and that affects people differently. Some people put the handbrake on; others increase speed. You're blanked off when you're in a car, you're in that zone, but some drivers carry baggage with them. In the past he's overtaken opponents on the outside and gone onto the grass at 180 mph. Will he take those risks now? Maybe that will play on his mind at a critical point in a race."

Damon Hill (1996 World Champion, winner of 22 Grands Prix and Sky Sports F1 presenter):

"He has a big test this year, with regards to where Red Bull are right now and his tolerance to difficulties. The question is always asked of him as to whether or not he would have been as a driver if he'd been in a less competitive car. That's always been the accusation leveled at him. I don't think there's any question about his ultimate talent, but he's not been a world champion in a team with difficulties before. It could be tough for him. It's important for him to be philosophical and keep calm. Nobody is denying that he wants to win, but the team has to knuckle down harder than they probably have done before to get to the root of their technical limitations this year. The character of Sebastian Vettel is going to be put to the test."

Watch all 19 live practice, qualifying and race days of the F1 season on Sky Sports F1 or listen to the Australian Grand Prix live on 16 March with Radio 5 Live. Highlights available on BBC TV

This is an extract from the full Formula One season preview in the latest issue of Esquire Weekly (iPad edition)

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