A trio of former F1 drivers doubt Sebastian Vettel will trouble Michael Schumacher's all-time record of seven world titles.
After the 24-year-old German became the youngest back-to-back world champion in the sport's history, Niki Lauda predicted that the record of Vettel's famous countryman could eventually tumble.
But Damon Hill, Schumacher's early championship nemesis, thinks the seven-title record will stand.
"They changed the rules because he (Schumacher) was winning too much," the 1996 world champion told the BBC. "It's much more competitive now than it ever was."
And the jury is out as to whether Vettel is a great, added Hill.
"You'd perhaps like to see him put through a bit of a tougher test of his mettle - a bit of pressure from another team, a contender," he said.
Joining Lauda in his high praise for Vettel, however, is former German driver Hans-Joachim Stuck: "He has the intelligence of a Senna or Prost, the bravado but not the foolhardiness of a Hamilton, and the attention to detail of a Schumacher."
But he told German-language Spox: "I do not think that in the next 15 years someone will be an eight-time world champion as the current rules are so different compared to Schumacher's era.
"The teams then had so much more freedom to develop their cars," explained Stuck.
Writing in the Telegraph, Red Bull advisor David Coulthard agrees: "I don't see Red Bull pounding everyone into submission like Ferrari did in the early 2000s. The conditions back then were so different.
"Nowadays there is no in-season testing and everyone uses the same tyre supplier. And even if Red Bull could afford to outspend their rivals they are not allowed to," said the former McLaren and Red Bull driver.
"Oh, and if you hadn't noticed, a McLaren car won the (last) race," added Coulthard.
Former F1 engineer Joan Villadelprat, meanwhile, noted in El Pais newspaper that Red Bull designer Adrian Newey is losing his blown exhaust diffuser innovation in 2012.
And "Red Bull is already stretched to the limit in the development of this car, and we have already seen McLaren and Ferrari come dangerously close in the course of this year.
"If Newey cannot pull another rabbit from his hat, we can expect an exciting championship in 2012," added the Epsilon Euskadi chief.
Sutil, Heidfeld hope for F1 seats in 2012
As Sebastian Vettel drinks in his unprecedented success, two of his German countrymen are hoping simply for a place on the 2012 grid.
Adrian Sutil has been with Force India since the Silverstone based team's Spyker days, but speculation is mounting that Vijay Mallya is planning to pair Paul di Resta with Nico Hulkenberg next year.
"I still have no contract (for 2012)," the German newsmagazine Focus quotes the 28-year-old as saying this week.
"For sure we'll have a meeting soon," Sutil, referring to his boss Mallya, told the BBC last weekend at Suzuka. "I'll ask his opinion about next year and hopefully he'll give me a sign."
Mallya said he will not make a decision until December, but Sutil said the end of the year "is a little late because normally all the other seats are taken".
Already absent from the grid in 2011 is Nick Heidfeld, who recently lost his Renault race seat to Bruno Senna.
Reports have linked the veteran of 183 Grands Prix with a BMW reunion in the German touring car series for 2012.
"I am in contact with the DTM teams," the 34-year-old confirmed, "but my focus at the moment stays in Formula One."
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