Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko is backing his former prodigy Sebastian Vettel to win a fifth world championship this year. Vettel leads Lewis Hamilton by 14 points at the summer break and has led the championship all season, the first time

Red Bull motorsport advisor Helmut Marko is backing his former prodigy Sebastian Vettel to win a fifth world championship this year.

Vettel leads Lewis Hamilton by 14 points at the summer break and has led the championship all season, the first time he has done so since winning a fourth consecutive title with Red Bull in 2013. The German, who left for Ferrari in 2015, is by far the most successful product of the Red Bull driver programme overseen by Marko since the late 1990s.

Marko is convinced Vettel will continue his good form when the season resumes at the Belgian Grand Prix at the end of August.

“I believe in Vettel, because I know his mental strength – and Ferrari has raised its game,” Marko told the official F1 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 materialize all their chances.

Red Bull team boss Christian Horner has recently highlighted Vettel’s mental strength as a reason he should be considered the favourite for the 2017 drivers’ crown. Marko is certain those same qualities will be key to how the championship unfolds from here.

When asked if he ever clashed with Vettel’s driven personality while he was at Red Bull, Marko replied: “No, never. But 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.”