Formula One: Vettel does what he does best - win, win, win

SILVERSTONE, July 7, 2011 (AFP) - Sebastian Vettel has done what he does best in the build-up to this weekend's British Grand Prix - keep his head down, his tongue still and nod at his record this year in which all he has done is win, win and win again.

The defending drivers' world champion, who was 24 last Sunday, has been hailed in all quarters this season but has, only rarely, joined in any debates over his position or form, or that of any of his rivals.

As storms of words flew elsewhere, many around the future of the 2008 champion Briton Lewis Hamilton, Vettel said nothing. Not even when it has been suggested that Hamilton could be his new team-mate at champion team Red Bull.

After winning six of this year's eight races and finishing second in the other two - the most outstanding start to a season on record - the young German has no need to speak. His runaway lead says it all.

With 186 points already, Vettel is 77 points ahead of nearest rivals Briton Jenson Button of McLaren and his own Red Bull team-mate Australian Mark Webber, 34.

At his current rate of success, and progress, Vettel could wrap up his second title in Italy in September, with six races to spare.

It is this utter dominance which has left his rivals not just frustrated, but disillusioned and annoyed as they labour in his and Red Bull's slipstream.

To many of them, this weekend's British race on home turf - with a revised circuit and revised rules - is virtually a final chance to launch a fightback.

Button, the 2009 champion, who has rarely had any good fortune at Silverstone, is hunting his first home podium, but like Hamilton wrote off his own title hopes as little more than a long-shot following the European Grand Prix at Valencia two weeks ago.

Despite the fact that the British event has been on the calendar since the inaugural race in 1950, and this weekend celebrates its 62nd birthday as a world championship contest, only 12 British drivers have tasted a home win - and only Hamilton of the current field.

He won for McLaren in 2008 on his way to the title and has made clear how important he feels it is for his team to respond to their clear defeat in Valencia with a resurgence of form in front of home fans at a circuit that has undergone a major 45 million dollars facelift since last year.

The 26-year-old Englishman has also made clear he wants former champions like Nigel Mansell and Canadian Jacques Villeneuve to "keep their opinions to themselves" after they had deliberated on his career options. Both men told him he should stay at McLaren.

"I find it kind of funny," Hamilton told the BBC. "I'm not sure that anyone really cares what some of those people are talking about or their opinions. I think that if you have an opinion -- just keep it to yourself.

"I'm pretty comfortable in my current contract. Jenson has his end this year and mine doesn't end until the end of next year, so I have a job for the next year and a half. All the energy and focus goes into trying to win and that's what I'm trying to do."

Hamilton's McLaren team, who along with Ferrari are the only realistic opposition to Red Bull, have said they know why they flopped in Valencia and declared they will bounce back stronger.

Team managing director Jonathan Neale said: "We underperformed at Valencia -- we didn't really get the car dialled in properly. I don't think we delivered to our full potential. I'm certainly regarding it as a blip. We understand the reasons why, and we've done something about it.

Neale, like many fans, said he also hoped that the mid-season rule change on 'exhaust blown diffusers' could boost McLaren's chances.

"The uncertainty that is raised by the recent engine regulation changes will make it really interesting this weekend and could open the season up," he said.

"We're really looking forward to Silverstone, a high speed circuit. The guys should be optimistic. We have some great upgrades.."

More than anything, the mid-season technical rule changes will signal either that Vettel can be vulnerable - or he is disappearing into the distance. Ferrari, according to Brazilian Felipe Massa, are ready to bid him a fond farewell.

"Only at the end of the year, should we look at the championship situation," said Massa. "But realistically, Vettel would need to do a really crazy job to lose the title. We cannot give up. This situation changes nothing.

"A victory is a very nice thing and some wins this year would show we have done a good job. We must not forget that improving the car can also be important for 2012."

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