Nigel Mansell has urged Sebastian Vettel’s rivals to raise their game if they are to compete both on and off track this year with the current Formula One world champion.
Mansell has been impressed by Vettel’s dominant start in defence of his crown as the German has claimed pole in each of the four grands prix to date, winning three and finishing second in the other.
From a potential maximum of 100 points, Vettel has collected 93 to leave the likes of Lewis Hamilton, Jenson Button, Fernando Alonso and Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber trailing in his wake.
Mansell knows what it is to lord it over the other drivers because in his title-winning year of 1992, the 58-year-old took the first six poles, winning the opening five races and taking second in the sixth.
It was a crushing beginning from which there was no way back for the rest of the field as Mansell went on to win the title by 52 points under the old system - 106 if the new one had been applied.
Assessing how a similar walkover can be avoided, Mansell said: “At the moment Sebastian is doing a much better job than any other driver.
“Red Bull have come straight out of the starting blocks, although unsurprisingly, and Sebastian is defending his world championship brilliantly. He has driven some fantastic races.
“He is on a high because he is world champion, and so he has been consistent.
“He is also in the best place he can be because he is with a team that can give him the opportunity to defend the world title in a better way then when he won it.
“But it’s early days yet, we know a lot of things can turn around.
“So it’s up to the other teams and other drivers to compete at that same level, some of it psychological, some of it performance.
“Lewis, Jenson and Alonso, they will not like what’s going on at the moment, but they will push their teams and bounce back.
“I’m sure as the season goes on we’ll have some fantastic races.
“I predict there will be a few winners this year that will come out of nowhere and you’ll be thinking ’How did they win that?’
“I’m hoping that happens.”
Fellow former world champion Damon Hill also believes there will be an opportunity that will present itself and allow the other drivers to close in on Vettel.
“He’s been pretty strong, but it doesn’t always last,” Hill told Press Association Sport.
“I’m not sure he’s got a vice-like grip on the thing yet because in any championship there’s a hiccup in the middle. Somewhere there comes a point when it’s not so easy.”