Niki Lauda says it is understandable that Sebastian Vettel is not the same happy chap that he was last season.
Trailing not only Fernando Alonso but also his own Red Bull team-mate Mark Webber in the Drivers' standings, this year's campaign has brought an end to the double World Champ's phenomenal run from last season.
Instead of dominating the pack, Vettel has had to scrap it out with his rivals and has bagged just one race win, Bahrain, and an additional two podiums. He is 42 points behind Alonso in the title race.
In an interview with Osterreich newspaper it was put to Lauda that Vettel is not as relaxed as he was a year ago.
"That's logical," the Austrian responded. "Last year he had a huge advantage with his car.
"Now, in every race, he is having to fight like a donkey in order to stay in touch.
"So the stress level is higher. And in difficult situations Alonso is superior to all."
The 63-year-old, though, reckons Red Bull and McLaren have what it takes to fight back.
"The top teams are close together, which the Hungarian Grand Prix showed again," he said.
"I expect the tension to continue and hope that Red Bull and McLaren can exploit their potential."