Beatles fan Vettel has a fab four in mind
London: No driver in the history of Formula One has won four championships before the age of 30 but being first has become something of a habit for Sebastian Vettel.
The 25-year-old Red Bull driver became the youngest triple champion last year and the German with the cheeky grin and raised single finger will start the new season in Australia next week as favourite for a fourth title.
The youngest points scorer, podium finisher, race winner and champion - who could become only the third driver after Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher to win four successive crowns - may be facing his toughest task yet, however.
Vettel ended testing in Spain last weekend without fanfare and as the only driver from the leading five teams to fail to top any of the end-of-day timesheets over the 12 days.
"I would say that we never had a winter that was less conclusive than this one," Vettel told reporters in Spain, recognising that the team had not ticked all their boxes on the test track.
"I think it is impossible for all of us to read the pace of the cars and to make out any favourites."
While rivals suspect that Red Bull have deliberately masked the potential of Adrian Newey's latest creation, there is hope that the gap between the champions and the rest may have narrowed.
Vettel, who took his first crown by stealth in 2010 and his third last year with a second-half surge, will still be the man every driver wants to beat when the red start lights go out.
The lifelong Beatles fan may have a long and winding road ahead of him but even if it all starts off as a bit of a mystery tour, magical or otherwise, he has every chance of staying at number one with his own fab four.
"He is still the favourite," said Frenchman Alain Prost, the only other four-times Formula One champion, who took his last title in 1993 at the age of 38. "Behind him, it's hard to say."