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Mercedes non-executive chairman Niki Lauda written off his team’s chances of claiming the title this season as he predicts Sebastian Vettel will ease to championship.
Three-time world champion Lauda has made it clear that he can see no other result than a fourth consecutive title for the German.
Vettel has once again been in great form for the first half of the campaign, picking up eight podium finishes from 11 races.
The 26-year-old clinched first place on the return from the summer break last time out in Belgium to open up a 46 point lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship, with Ferrari’s Fernando Alonso in second and Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton 12 points further back in third.
Lauda believes that Vettel will be able to continue building momentum over the next few weeks and expects him to pick up the title by the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix at the start of the November, with two races still remaining in the calendar.
Lauda said: “Vettel is no longer fighting anyone. I am committing myself: in Abu Dhabi, he is world champion.
“His lead is already big enough after Spa, where he dominated even though the Red Bull was not really suited to the track. His best circuits are still yet to come. Red Bull won’t be the favourite at Monza but on all other circuits he has the best car.”