Despite sitting fourth in the Formula One standings while trying to break his July hex, two-time defending champion Sebastian Vettel isn't panicking just yet.

The Red Bull driver is 26 points behind leader Fernando Alonso of Ferrari going into Sunday's British Grand Prix after failing to finish in Valencia last month.

And the omens aren't good for Vettel at Silverstone. The German driver has never won a race in July.

"I didn't know that," said Vettel, who turned 25 on Tuesday. "There is more pressure in July now."

The German has won only one race this season, compared with his six victories at this stage last season, when he held a 77-point lead in the championship.

The plan, though, on Sunday is to try not to think about the drastic turnaround in fortunes in the space of a year.

"I am not trying too hard or taking too many risks or trying something different," Vettel said on Thursday. "If it happens, I will be very happy. If it doesn't, hopefully I can try again — in July. ... We have to be patient."

June also wasn't too kind to Vettel, with poles in both the Canada GP and at the European GP in Valencia failing to produce podium finishes.

In Valencia, Vettel didn't even finish, stalling midway through the race.

But that mishap hasn't dented Vettel's belief that his Red Bull team is improving entering the ninth race of the season.

"Very quickly we've been able to adapt to this season, maybe some things didn't work the way we wanted, but all in all it has been a difficult season for everyone and for all the teams," Vettel said. "I think we have improved the car since the beginning of the season.

"Everyone else is trying very hard, but it is not very easy this year. Some things we have brought to the track and to the car did not give us the direction we might have wanted but that is the challenge we face this season. Everyone has lost quite a lot of downforce with the regulations changing for this year again. It seems to be tricky to get it back."

In Valencia, Alonso became the first driver this season to produce a second victory, ending the streak of seven different winners from seven races to claim a 20-point lead over Mark Webber in the standings.

"It's for sure not a situation that maybe we were expecting because ... there are a few cars that are quicker than us at the moment," Alonso said. "We need to close that gap in the next couple of races if we want to fight for the championship.

"If not, we know that sooner or later they will be in front, if we don't work better than the others. We are in race eight or nine of 20, so at the moment championship positions or points are important but it's not our main priority."

That is to improve the car, which is the same focus at McLaren, where there have been upgrades for British duo Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button ahead of their home race.

"I'm really, really excited to see how (the upgrades) behave on the car and if they actually deliver what we think they're going to deliver," said Hamilton, who was third in the standings.

"I think our car generally goes a little bit better on high-speed circuits than it does at low-speed circuits, so fingers crossed it will be a little bit stronger this weekend."

Rain that is expected to drench Silverstone this weekend could help Hamilton, who will be hoping to replicate his soggy success in 2008 on the way to winning the title.

"Us Brits should be pretty good in the wet," he said. "A lot of my success in the wet has come down to a lot of the weather we have here.

"A lot of my races up in Scotland ... in karting, they've all contributed to the success I have nowadays."

It was Hamilton's collision with Pastor Maldonado at the European GP that paved the way for Michael Schumacher to finish on the podium for the first time since coming out of retirement two years ago.

And the third-place finish has given the 43-year-old German a lift going into Sunday's race.

"After certain unlucky races it was a nice boost for everybody," Schumacher said. "In particular the guys who work on my car who were finally able to taste a bit of champagne."