Formula One boss Bernie Ecclestone says Sebastian Vettel can surpass Michael Schumacher's record of seven world championships.
Ecclestone says the German will win his third straight drivers title this season - and any other result would be a major upset.
Previewing the season, starting with this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, Ecclestone has forecast a Vettel victory and a clean sweep for Red Bull in 2012 with Mark Webber second in the championship.
He has virtually dismissed Ferrari's chances but believes McLaren will be the main challenger, with either Jenson Button or Lewis Hamilton taking third.
Ecclestone described Hamilton as "mentally unstable" last year when the Briton found himself embroiled in on-track controversies and distractions in his private life.
The F1 boss feels Hamilton will be rejuvenated this season but not enough to topple Vettel, who he feels is an odds-on favourite for a hat-trick of crowns.
"My guess is that he really can do it again," Ecclestone said. "What points against it? I think anything else would be the surprise.
"The pre-season tests spoke a quite clear language - the Red Bull looks super competitive again, and Sebastian is only 24 so he still has an enormous potential to fill."
According to Ecclestone, Vettel's competitive nature could drive him past Schumacher's mark of seven world titles. "He's got it all - talent, passion, zeal, a clear head - and he hates to lose.
"I could imagine him beating Michael's record."
Ecclestone said he hopes McLaren, viewed as Red Bull's most likely challenger this year, can be on the pace from the start this weekend.
In an equal shoot-out between McLaren teammates, Lewis Hamilton would be quicker than Jenson Button.
"Lewis is a huge talent," Ecclestone said.