Helmut Marko tips former protege Sebastian Vettel for 2017 F1 title

Red Bull consultant Helmut Marko has backed Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel to emerge on top of his title battle with Lewis Hamilton and claim a fifth world crown.

Vettel will enter the second half of the campaign with a 14-point lead over Hamilton, the pair having taken four wins apiece in Formula 1 this season.

Marko guided Vettel through to Formula 1 with Toro Rosso, before the German graduated to Red Bull in 2009, and claimed four straight titles between 2010 and 2013.

Vettel moved on to Ferrari in 2015 off the back of a disappointing title defence but Marko believes his former protégé will emerge on top of the scrap with Hamilton.

“I believe in Vettel, because I know his mental strength – and Ferrari has raised its game,” Marko explained to the official Formula 1 website.

“Silverstone, I would say, was an exception – Ferrari was clearly the stronger car in the first half of the season and only due to various circumstances could they not materialise all their chances.

“What is fact is that we have been 60 points behind before the summer break – and still won the title with him!

“Seb will use this summer break to come back even stronger. That’s how I know him.”

Red Bull has not been a factor in this year’s title battle, with Daniel Ricciardo picking up the team’s sole 2017 victory at the dramatic Azerbaijan Grand Prix.

On Red Bull holding third in the standings, Marko said: “It is not good enough for Red Bull, but in our position with the engine it’s the best we can get.”