Red Bull team principal Christian Horner insists that he has no doubts about Sebastian Vettel's strength under pressure as the 24-year-old German bids to secure his second consecutive World Championship in the final eight races of the season.
Vettel, who has won six races so far in 2011, is 85 points ahead of his nearest rival, teammate Mark Webber, in the drivers' championship. McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso are 88 and 89 points adrift, respectively. But although some have suggested that Vettel is weak under pressure, Horner is adamant that he has proved this not to be the case.
"He is hugely impressive under pressure," Horner told AUTOSPORT. "He has not ceased to surprise me in pressure situations.
"Monaco was a clear example in the way that he managed to keep the cars [Alonso and Jenson Button] behind him on tires that were never envisaged to run that long. In Barcelona, he positioned the car in exactly the right place against Hamilton. He soaks up the pressure so well. So many times in Q3 you think, 'He's got a bit on here,' but he has gone on to deliver."
Vettel has finished in the points in all 11 races so far this year, only missing out on a full set of podiums by finishing fourth after a spin in the German Grand Prix last month. He also lost places late in the race in Canada and China, but Horner does not believe that these reveal any weakness in the German as in each case the race situation meant that the odds were stacked against him.
"He still came fourth in Germany and, if you look at his rivals' worst races this year, they have been far worse than that," said Horner. "He's sitting on six victories with two second places and a fourth. That's not a bad scorecard and he has been in a position to win three other races.
"He lost on the last lap in Canada going for it and lost China at the end of the race when on a different strategy. And at Silverstone he was in the lead until the jack failed. Nurburgring is the only race this year that he hasn't led, which is a remarkable statistic in itself."
Vettel has been asked regularly during recent race weekends about whether he plans to adopt a more conservative approach now that he has such a large points lead. He would still win the title if he finished third in all eight of the remaining races. But Vettel has always insisted that he will stick to his "maximum attack" style. Horner is confident that he will do so because the mindset serves his driver very well.
"That's how he goes into each grand prix," said Horner. "He has to attack. He's hungry for wins. But he's also sensible enough to know that when he can't win, that's when he needs to be delivering the points. But his mindset is to try and win every grand prix.