Webber expects Vettel to match Schumacher’s seven titles

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Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel may not have been the best of friends in their five years as team mates at Red Bull, but Webber showed his respect for his team mate’s abilities in a recent interview.

Webber told the Daily Mail he expects Vettel to equal Michael Schumacher’s record of winning seven world championship titles.

“Seb’s phenomenal, a very tough act,” said Webber. “I think he will reach Michael Schumacher’s total of seven championships, no problem.”

Vettel’s success is not just down to the strength of Red Bull’s cars in recent seasons, Webber added. “Seb has won a lot of races when the car has been good, but he has also won a lot when the car hasn’t been good.

“Seb is like Alain Prost, but with a qualifying lap at his fingertips. Impressive. Also, he hardly ever makes a mistake. It’s not all the car.”

“It’s been fascinating for me to be in the boxing ring with him. I will look back at that and, realize you have understood a lot about yourself from what went on. It was a big juicy part of Formula One.”

Webber has had a tough time alongside Vettel this year, being out-qualified 15 times to 2 and has not finished ahead of Vettel in any of the 13 races where both have seen the checkered flag. That includes the contentious Malaysian Grand Prix where Vettel ignored a late-race team order to finish behind Webber.

F1 2017 driver review: Sergio Perez

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Sergio Perez

Team: Sahara Force India
Car No.: 11
Races: 20
Wins: 0
Podiums: 0
Best Finish: P4 (Spain)
Pole Positions: 0
Fastest Laps: 1
Points: 100
Championship Position: 7th

While failing to hit the podium as he did in both 2015 and 2016, Sergio Perez once again finished the year as Formula 1’s leading midfield team driver, but faced a greater fight from within Force India in the shape of Esteban Ocon.

Perez has long been knocking on the door of F1’s top teams should an opportunity come up, and 2017 saw him continue his solid if unspectacular form. The dominance of Mercedes, Red Bull and Ferrari meant any finish higher than seventh was impressive, something he managed to do on five occasions.

But there were some missed opportunities along the way, most significantly in Baku. Force India had been quick all weekend, with Perez charging to sixth on the grid, and when drama struck at the front, he and teammate Ocon were eyeing a podium finish as a minimum.

Contact between the two forced Perez to retire and prompted Ocon to pit for repairs, leaving the team without the top-three finish it targeted heading into the season. With Lance Stroll taking P3 for Williams and Daniel Ricciardo winning the race, a maiden victory for Force India was not out of the realm of imagination.

Perez and Ocon came to blows on a number of occasions, with the final straw coming in Spa when they twice touched on-track, prompting Force India to introduce team orders. Perez finished the year 13 points clear of Ocon in the final standings, meeting his own pre-season target of 100 points, yet the Frenchman had arguably made the bigger impression at Force India through his first full season in F1.

Force India remains the top underdog in F1 with Perez spearheading its charge, but it is difficult to see either taking the final step to becoming true contenders at the front of the field anytime soon, as solid as their displays have been.

Season High: P4 in Spain after retirements for the ‘big three’.

Season Low: Losing a sure-fire podium, if not a win, in Baku after contact with Ocon.