The reigning champion's four consecutive victories heading into this weekend's Abu Dhabi Grand Prix have put him firmly in charge of what was once a wide-open title race.
Vettel's lead over long-time championship favourite Fernando Alonso is now up to 13 points with three races to go.
But Vettel said it would take just one glitch for the title picture to turn around.
He pointed out that there were many times in his first championship-winning season in 2010 when a driver seemed to have one hand on the crown only to stumble.
"If you just look back, India was a great race for us but a couple of laps from the end we had some sparks," said Vettel.
"Obviously it was not a problem but it doesn't take much imagination [to see that it could have been].
"If something like this comes up it shows you how vulnerable you are, no matter what position you are in. It doesn't take much and you might end the race not scoring the points that you were hoping for, and then the whole picture looks different again with the points system we've had since 2010.
"In 2010 in particular various people got written off and then written back in depending on recent results. That's something we shouldn't forget."
Vettel does not believe Red Bull has proved to be decisively the fastest car despite his string of wins.
" I think in the second stint on hard tyres [in India], McLaren and Ferrari were arguably a little bit quicker than us," he said.
"But then I could benefit from the gap I had after the first stint."
He added: "I think Jenson [Button] put the fastest lap in at the end of the race in India, 1.5s quicker than he did before.
"I don't know what he was doing before that, but it shows they were quite quick."
The German put his dominant pace three weeks ago in Japan down to being particularly in tune with Red Bull's set-up that weekend.
"In Japan I was really happy with the car and the balance in the race was just fantastic. That's what then allows you to put a really strong lap in," Vettel said.
Red Bull could secure the 2012 constructors' championship in Abu Dhabi this weekend - something Vettel said he was unaware of until informed by team-mate Mark Webber.
"We were both on the same plane, and Mark said it would be quite bad for the constructors' if this plane went down..." Vettel said. "But obviously it would be very special for us to win the championship here.
"But in order to do so we have to have a strong weekend and score more points than the others."
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