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Vettel still on track for 2011 title

F1’s last-start race winner Lewis Hamilton thinks winning the 2011 world championship remains a long shot.

He said that although his McLaren raced to victory at cold Nurburgring last weekend, runaway championship leaders Red Bull were “light years ahead” a year ago at the scene of the Hungarian grand prix.

“Naturally we will try to improve, but I do think we will have to wait until next year before our car is maybe as good as theirs,” said Hamilton.

His teammate Jenson Button agrees that even if Sebastian Vettel doesn’t win another race this year, he is probably still headed for the title.

He compared the situation to 2009, when after a meteoric start with dominant Brawn GP, Button failed to win races in the second part of the season

“I still won the championship with two races to go and he (Vettel) does have a 77 point lead,” said the Briton.

Nevertheless, the recent trend is that Vettel and Red Bull’s utter dominance of the early season could now be over.

“We can assert that from now until the end of the season there will be a fight for each victory, because three teams are finally at the same level, at least in race conditions,” test driver Pedro de la Rosa, referring to Red Bull, McLaren and Ferrari, told formulasantander.com.

“Perhaps it is a bit late, and it may be that driving with the aid of a calculator will now be sufficient (for Vettel), but what a wonderful battle we finally have,” he added.

Agreed former F1 driver Luciano Burti: “Missing nine races to the end, Vettel and Red Bull should be careful.”

But another ex-driver Jos Verstappen thinks German Vettel, 24, just needs to drive with his head, no matter the encroaching competitiveness of his rivals.

“Alonso said that Vettel is making mistakes because the pressure has increased, but I think it’s just that his car is now slightly not as good.  That makes you take more risks as a driver,” he wrote in his De Telegraaf column.

“If Vettel uses his ordinary common sense, nothing will go wrong for him and he will win another championship,” added the Dutchman.