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Bernie Ecclestone would be 'surprised' if Sebastian Vettel lost 2012 Formula 1 title race

Sebastian VettelAnything other than another title for Sebastian Vettel would be a surprise outcome in the 2012 Formula 1 season, reckons the sport's commercial rights-holder Bernie Ecclestone.

Asked for his predictions by the official F1 website, Ecclestone said there were simply not enough reasons why Vettel might get defeated.

"My guess is that he really can do it again. What points against it? I think anything else would be the surprise," said Ecclestone.

"The pre-season tests spoke a quite clear language: the Red Bull looks super competitive again - and Sebastian is only 24, so he still has an enormous potential to fill. Realistically, everything points to Sebastian. He's got it all: talent, passion, zeal, a clear head - and he hates to lose. I could imagine him beating Michael [Schumacher]'s record."

Ecclestone hopes to see a stronger challenge to Vettel this year even though he would bet on the German winning once more.

"I hope that McLaren is faster than at the start of last season and able to fight for wins right from the first race," said Ecclestone. "Mercedes is looking pretty competitive, so I have them on my watch list. That leaves me with the hope that Ferrari will catch up soon.

"If I were to bet now, it would be Sebastian world champion, Mark Webber second and one of the McLarens third, probably Lewis Hamilton."

He said he would put his faith in Hamilton because he has great belief in the 2008 champion's natural ability even though his '11 season was a turbulent one.

"Lewis is a huge talent - that has not changed," Ecclestone argued. "He probably was mentally a bit unstable last year and that resulted in a situation where he didn't show his full potential. On the other hand Jenson Button squeezed the maximum out of his potential - that's why he finished ahead of Lewis.

"I dare to predict if both are able to show their full potential Lewis will be in front of Jenson, because in the end he's faster."

Ecclestone also backed Ferrari's management, saying they should not be blamed for the issues the Italian team has had in testing.

"Ferrari's problems have nothing to do with the team management," he argued. "I am absolutely sure about that. I see problems on the technical side - in the aero department. Instead of firing someone they rather should hire someone - Adrian Newey!"

The F1 ringmaster believes both Kimi Raikkonen and Schumacher can also be factors if the Lotus and Mercedes are quick enough.

"He is an add-on in every respect," Ecclestone said of Raikkonen. "I think that a lot will depend on how the car is - and if he can keep up his motivation. For the moment he seems to be super motivated. Let's hope it stays that way."

And asked if he felt 2012 could be the breakthrough year for Schumacher's comeback, Ecclestone replied: "If the car is fast enough, yes. I do hope that's the case, for him and all the Schumacher fans. He is still a big name and we all profit more from a successful Michael Schumacher than from a beaten one. Ask in the USA - he is still the biggest name there."

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