|Sebastian Vettel is looking to re-write the record books this season|
Despite a disappointing final day of pre-season testing in Barcelona on Sunday, the 24-year-old will be safe in the knowledge that his team has the edge over rivals McLaren and Ferrari ahead of the opening Grand Prix in Melbourne, Australia (18 March).
While many are predicting one of the closest seasons in years, the recent admission of Ferrari's technical director Pat Fry that the team 'have a lot of work to do' to get the car upto speed, and the doubts about whether McLaren duo - Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button - can rediscover their championship winning heroics of 2008 and 2009, understandably mark Vettel out as favourite to retain his title.
That's not to say it will be easy for him; far from it. The world champion will be joined in the field by five other drivers who have also been there and done it before - Schumacher (Mercedes), Hamilton, Button, Fernando Alonso (Ferrari) and Kimi Raikkonen (Lotus), who returns to F1 this season after two years in rallying.
These drivers have proven time and time again that they can win races against the odds and they're willing to take huge risks to ensure they cross the finishing line in first place. Schumacher and Raikkonen may struggle to force their way into the title shake-up come the end of the season, but if they do happen to find themselves in a podium position in any given Grand Prix, they can rely on their experience to fend off the main championship challengers.
Add to the mix Mark Webber, whose third-place finishes in the last two seasons have played a pivotal role in Red Bull securing back-to-back Constructors' Championships, and Felipe Massa, who came within a whisker of winning the championship in 2008, and you can see why it is shaping up to be a fascinating eight months.
With this in mind, if Vettel does manage to prevail this season it will undoubtedly be the greatest achievement of his illustrious career. The German will have to overcome some of F1's greats to establish himself as a legend of the sport but he certainly has the talent and the car to do just that.