By Gabriel Tan
A second consecutive drivers' title for Vettel did seem a foregone conclusion early on in the season when the young German claimed six of the first eight races.
However, question marks started to be raised over his ability to handle the pressure after he made a series of uncharacteristic errors to allow Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button to claim the British, German and Hungarian races respectively.
Even before these, Vettel had already shown signs of cracking in Montreal when a last-lap slip allowed Button to charge through to claim the Canadian Grand Prix.
But it must be remembered that the drivers' championship is won over the course of a whole season, not just three races. And even if Vettel failed to win a single race for the remainder of 2011, should he claim the points necessary to finish on top of the standings come the end of November, he would still be a very deserving champion.
However, given the form Vettel showed during the early part of the season, as well as two Sundays ago when he won the Belgian Grand Prix, it is unlikely we will have to wait till November 27 to crown the Red Bull driver as this year's champion.
Vettel currently holds a 92-point lead over second-placed team-mate Mark Webber, with just seven races remaining. All he needs is three more victories to guarantee the defence of his crown.
Vettel has not placed lower than fourth this season. Even if he were to finish in that position for the final seven races, Vettel would still end the season with 343 points, one more than the tally Webber would have if he were to win every race. All seven - and the Australian is yet to win even one in 2011.
Of course, it will not necessarily be all plain-sailing for Vettel at the Italian Grand Prix. Ferrari have an outstanding record in their home race, having claimed 19 wins at Monza. McLaren are a distant second with nine victories.
Last year, Alonso stormed to victory, almost three seconds ahead of Button, while Felipe Massa capped off a great day for Ferrari by finishing third.
But it was in Monza in 2008 where a 21-year-old Vettel first created waves by claiming his maiden Formula One victory with Toro Rosso. Fast forward three years, the German could just use the same circuit as the stage to reiterate his claim as the sport's current number one driver.