Winning the 2012 world championship is going to be a much tougher task for reigning back to back title winner Sebastian Vettel.
That is the view of F1's legendary triple world champion Niki Lauda, who nonetheless told the Osterreich (Austria) newspaper that the 25-year-old German cannot be written off.
With half the 2012 championship now behind him, Vettel has one win compared to leader Fernando Alonso's three, and he also trails his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.
Told that Vettel appears less happy in 2012, Niki Lauda said: "That's logical. Last year he had a huge advantage with his car. Now, in every race, he is having to fight like a donkey in order to stay in touch. And the stress level is higher."
And Austrian legend Lauda, 63, said Webber and Ferrari's Alonso are not Vettel's only problems.
"All the top teams are closer together, as we saw in Budapest last time. I expect it to stay like that and I hope that Red Bull and McLaren can exploit their full potential."
As for how Vettel shapes up against 2012 favourite Alonso, Lauda said the Spaniard is "superior to everyone in difficult situations".
Niki Lauda was also asked about reports London could soon join the F1 calendar.
"I watched the Olympics from the opening to the closing ceremony," he said, "and loved it. An Olympic Games could not have gone better."
As for what he thinks about the idea of a London street grand prix, Lauda answered: "Not a lot."