Lewis Hamilton has cautioned expectations of a home victory at Silverstone on Sunday by warning that reigning World Champion Sebastian Vettel now has the pace to "dominate" the 2012 season.
Although Vettel has secured just a single victory this term, his pace in Valencia prior to his retirement from last Sunday's grand prix was so formidable that Hamilton now fears that the German could run away from the field for the rest of the year.
"Be careful, because Vettel could dominate for the rest of the year," Hamilton told The Daily Mirror. "The pace he had at the last race was ridiculous - he made a 20-second lead in something like ten laps. Ridiculous."
Vettel's sudden upsurge in pace has been attributed to a series of upgrades introduced by his Red Bull team, with Sky Sports F1 columnist Mark Hughes confirming: "The RB8 has been massively re-engineered over the last two races - with new rear suspension, brakes and wheel hubs in Montreal to make possible the reworked rear bodywork in Valencia, all combining to give a substantial aerodynamic improvement.
"The indications from both the long runs of Valencia practice and indeed the race itself were that the car's previous heavy tyre usage were things of the past. If Valencia was representative and not just another peculiarity of the delicate tyre/track temperature equation, then Red Bull might just be about to take up where it left off in 2011."
However, Hamilton was at pains to make public a shortage of upgrades on his McLaren in Valencia and the team are expected to bolt on substantial improvements to the MP4-27 this weekend instead.
"We've hopefully got some upgrades coming, the car felt pretty good in the simulator so I hope that we have a fighting chance to make the nation proud," the 2008 World Champion confirmed to Sky Sports News on Friday. "So hopefully in the next race we'll have a much better chance of keeping with him [Vettel], if not being ahead of him."