VIRY-CHATILLON, France, Dec 1st, 2011 (AFP) - Germany's two-time Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel said Tuesday he won't be taking anything for granted in 2012 when he will be bidding for a third successive crown.
The 24-year-old German, who became Formula One's youngest back-to-back world champion when he reclaimed his title in Japan, said he was still conscious of where his career began.
"We do not know what awaits us in 2012," said Vettel, who was visiting his team Red Bull's engine suppliers Renault factory to thank the team.
"There are no guarantees. Maybe next year we will just be challenging for points and sometimes getting on to the podium.
"I never take anything for granted, the podiums, the victories.
"It wasn't so long ago I was driving a Toro Rosso. I was starting races 18th on the grid. That didn't raise a flicker of interest from anyone.
"And if I finished 16th after a superb race, that didn't interest anyone either. That is how it works. You have to constantly put things in perspective, not forget where you came from."
Vettel, who won 11 of 19 races, rounding it off with second behind team-mate Mark Webber in the season finale Brazil Grand Prix last Sunday, said however the title is very much in his sights.
"The title is the target. But I am racing against the best drivers in the world," added the German.
"I am aware of that. If I get beaten, of course it doesn't please me. But there are reasons to explain why it happened. What you have to do afterwards is ensure that the next time you reverse the scenario."
Vettel, who also broke Nigel Mansell's records of pole positions in a season and laps led during a championship, was quick to share out the plaudits for his success.
"I do not consider myself more important than anyone else at the stable," he said.
"Like Adrian (Newey, Red Bull technical director) said, I fill the space in between the engine and the front wheels.
"I am just one cog in the machine. If someone doesn't do his work properly, for instance if the engine doesn't function, it costs you points.
"It is the same if I make an error. In Formula One, it is imperative that everything comes together, otherwise it won't function."
Despite his successes, Vettel said being mentioned in the same breath as some of the legends of the sport is a luxury he affords himself only seldomly.
"I try not to think about it. It is I think a way of protecting myself," he said.
"I love Formula One, to drive the cars. I admire the history and the discipline. It is wonderful to be part of a sport and to be able to say: 'Look what I have done, what we have done, in comparison with an Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna, or even a Jackie Stewart or a Jochen Rindt'.
"That is pretty exceptional. That said, thinking about it occasionally is alright, but to think about it too often is not good."