Schumacher: Vettel is now the favourite

Sebastian Vettel is now the outright favourite for the 2012 title, his countryman Michael Schumacher says. But the seven time world champion has admitted his predictions underwent an about-face at Suzuka, where championship leader Fernando Alonso crashed at the first corner.

“For me, the championship was already decided,” Schumacher is quoted by Bild newspaper in Korea. “With his points gap, when Fernando went into the race at Suzuka, I thought he was clearly on the home stretch.

“I now see the advantage clearly with Sebastian,” added Schumacher. “He has the package (car) he needs and I am sure he can drive it home now.”

Although contenders Alonso and Vettel would both secure their third drivers’ titles in 2012, the feat for Vettel will make him only the third great in F1 history to secure three crowns on the trot. Only Juan Manuel Fangio and Schumacher himself have won three in successive years.