London: Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull may be heading for an era of Formula One dominance akin to Michael Schumacher`s with Ferrari in the previous decade, according to the sport`s commercial supremo Bernie Ecclestone.
The 80-year-old also told the official formula1.com website that Vettel`s victories had more weight than Schumacher`s because of the level of competition faced by the 23-year-old German.
"Sebastian is in a similar position as Michael," said Ecclestone. "Sebastian is the best right now and that`s why he is dominating.”
"That`s what makes it so interesting for the fans because every race weekend starts with a big question mark -- Who will be able to beat Vettel? That`s why fans tune in."
Vettel, the sport`s youngest world champion, has won six of the first eight races this season and finished second in the other two.
He has a 77-point advantage over McLaren`s Jenson Button and his own Australian team mate Mark Webber with 11 races remaining.
The German has 16 wins to date, in comparison to seven times world champion Schumacher`s record 91, and is one of five world champions on the starting grid -- Schumacher, Button, McLaren`s Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari`s Fernando Alonso.
When Schumacher won a record 13 races in the 2004 season he was the only champion on the starting grid until Canadian Jacques Villeneuve returned for three races late that year.
The German won five titles in a row with Ferrari while compatriot Vettel is heading for his second in succession with Red Bull.
"The competition Sebastian is facing is much bigger than that confronted by Michael," said Ecclestone. "That makes Seb`s wins even more noteworthy.
"I don`t see a reason why there shouldn`t be a Red Bull era just as Ferrari had theirs with Michael."
Red Bull team principal Christian Horner told reporters after Vettel won last weekend`s European Grand Prix in Valencia that the champion was just getting better and better.
"He`s a perfectionist. He analyses his own performance more than anybody," said Horner.
Schumacher, now 42 and in the second year of his comeback with Mercedes, was also renowned for his obsessive attention to detail and careful analysis of anything that might give him an advantage.
Apart from taking a good look at the steering wheels on the cars of his rivals after qualifying for the Valencia race, Vettel also made sure he was fully up to speed with their progress on Sunday.
"He never ceases to surprise us because at one point we hadn`t told him we had put the prime tyres on Mark`s car because we didn`t want him (Vettel) to push any harder," said Horner.
"But then he came on the radio at one point and said, `What time is Mark doing on the primes?` We all looked at ourselves and thought `Who told him?`.
"Of course he was watching the big TV screen as he is going round and he has the capacity to take that in. He`s always thinking which is one of his major strengths."