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Bernie singing Vettel's praises

SEBASTIAN Vettel ticks all the right boxes for Bernie Ecclestone, the Formula One supremo who knows a winner when he sees one and who is fast becoming the youngster's biggest fan.

The 21-year-old German's victory from pole position in the wet for Red Bull in China last weekend, coming after his success against the odds for Toro Rosso at Monza last year, cemented Vettel's status as the coming man.

Ecclestone, the sport's 78-year-old commercial head, has been banging the drum with increasing vigor.

"Bernie has declared himself as Sebastian's unofficial manager," joked Red Bull boss Christian Horner at the Bahrain Grand Prix.

"I think he's got a lot of affection for him. He called me after qualifying (in China) and said 'Make sure you do a good job for my lad tomorrow.'

"He's delighted for Sebastian and the team."

Ecclestone was always close to Michael Schumacher, Germany's seven-time world champion who retired from Ferrari at the end of 2006, and Vettel entered Formula One in 2007 with the nickname "Baby Schumi."

The young German has already claimed several records, including the youngest grand prix winner, and has years ahead of him to add to his achievements.

"He's only 21 years of age but I genuinely think he's ... got all the hallmarks of somebody with a very, very bright future," said Horner.

"The thing that's most impressive about him is ... how calm he is," added the Briton. "He seems to have an extra capacity when he's driving the car to be able to process information.

"He wants a lot of information, (in China) he wanted to know where cars were going off, where they were struggling, whereas most guys in the wet are fully focused on what they are doing."

Ecclestone rang Vettel after the race in Shanghai to offer his congratulations, a call that the jubilant driver almost ignored.

"I had someone calling with a private number and I wasn't very keen to pick up the phone," Vettel said.

"But I did and it was Bernie, so I was very happy. He said I did a good job."


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