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'Magic' Vettel will surpass Schumacher says former world champ Scheckter

Story highlights

  • 1979 world champion gives his assessment on Sebastian Vettel during 2013 season
  • Scheckter expects Vettel to dominate for foreseeable future
  • Jackie Stewart tells CNN it's too early to place Vettel in ranks of all-time greats

He's only 26 years old but Sebastian Vettel has already achieved so much in Formula One with four world titles under his belt and now a record-equaling ninth straight victory at the Brazilian Grand Prix on Sunday.

The win capped a momentous season for the German and more are on the way, according former world champion Jody Scheckter who says Michael Schumacher's record of seven world titles is well within his grasp.

"I think it's hard to believe that he won't beat Michael's record," the 1979 world champion told CNN. "Four championships in a row is incredible. I can't see him not beating the record. I thought nobody would ever beat that record."

The 63-year-old South African puffs out his cheeks when asked to name Vettel's best performance.

"All of them! He seems to get out in front and stay there and pull away. It's incredible really. He's obviously magic," says Scheckter before highlighting the technical nous required to be a champion.

"It's very technical, more than other sports," he says. "You've got to understand all the complexities of the car ... then you're getting in that car, driving it fast, keeping it on the limit and not doing stupid things because that's quite easy to do."

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    With so much to focus on, it's easy to see why Vettel and previously Schumacher might come across as being cold, methodical and big-headed, perhaps. But the characterization isn't necessarily fair, Scheckter says.

    "Both Michael and Sebastian are concentrating on what it takes to win. Sometimes from the outside it looks arrogant. I see it in a different light to other people," Scheckter says.

    "The first thing is to win and the next thing is to be nice. Jackie Stewart could always be nice, talk to everybody else and then (still go on to win). I was the complete opposite."

    Three-time world champion Stewart, who spoke to CNN on the eve of the Brazilian Grand Prix, thinks Vettel's personality shines through in a different way.

    "He's a very charismatic young man as far as I'm concerned just because of his skill," Stewart said. "He's very modest, he's only 26 years of age and he's the most mature 26-year-old driver I've ever seen. He's had a sensational season."

    Yet despite his achievements, Stewart hesitates to rank Vettel alongside all-time greats like Argentina's five-time champion Juan Manuel Fangio and Scot Jim Clark or more recent multiple champions Alain Prost or Niki Lauda. Not yet, anyway.

    "You've just got to wait and see what the future holds because he's got a car that's faster than anybody else's right now and a designer (Adrian Newey) that's probably the most brilliant in the history of motorsports. So he's had a huge advantage." the Scot said.

    Vettel, who also equaled Schumacher's record of 13 wins in a season with victory in Interlagos, will look to match his compatriot's run of five straight world titles next season. Scheckter, for one, envisages a closer constructors' championship in 2014 because of all the regulation changes, but he still can't look beyond Vettel and Red Bull.

    "I still wouldn't bet against them. I would have thought that some of the top teams would show up better going into the new situation and make it better. I've been surprised by Lotus. You never know."