2008 F1 grand prix winner Sebastian Vettel says he has settled into the Red Bull Racing outfit and is cautiously optimistic ahead of this weekend's Australian season opener.
“It is a different team, yes,” said Vettel, who has sidestepped from Toro Rosso to the 'official' Red Bull outfit. “We have the same parent, that is quite special, but still the team is different. I think every team has its own way and its own philosophy. It was basically the same when I came from BMW to Toro Rosso. Of course it is different and you have to adapt. Some things you like and some things you don't like. When you don't like something then you just open your mouth and tell them what you don't like. You talk about it and then you see where you go.
“I had enough time already at the end of last year, so basically the Monday after Brazil I was already a Red Bull driver. I did all the winter tests and I got a bit more time as Mark [Webber] had his accident last November. That all helped me in a way to get well known in the factory and to the car and the working procedures of the team. Hopefully we used all our tests at the beginning of this year and this winter with the new car to prepare for this season as in the season there will be no more testing, so that's it for this year testing-wise.”
Vettel is now aiming to convert promising winter testing form into a strong result on his Red Bull race debut at Albert Park on Sunday.
“We had quite a strong winter, I'd say with a lot of work going on. I think our car looks very nice but we have to prove it is one of the best on the circuit still, but let's see,” he said. “ Right now for everyone it is the same situation as you don't know exactly where you are, it is a bit of guessing right now, but we focus on ourselves. I think we are in a good position, so we will see but definitely looking forward.”
Fans around the world are hoping that the new technical rules will prompt an increase in overtaking on Sunday, but Vettel warned that the problem of losing downforce when closely following another car remains.
“I don't know [if there will be more overtaking]. Let's see. It's difficult to say,” said Vettel. “Obviously it's only my second full season in Formula One but I remember that at the beginning of last year people were going crazy: now, without traction control, the cars will spin off and there will be much more overtaking.
“I think it was more interesting than the years before. We saw the cars sliding a bit more here and there but in the end, overtaking was still difficult and I think you have to understand, at least that's my feeling, it's already difficult to pass another car in Formula Three because of the downforce. Well, in Formula One I think the cars have a bit more downforce than in Formula Three.
“Obviously, I think we made some steps to help overtaking but we have to prove it on the circuit and not prove it in winter testing, just following another car for half a lap and 'do I get a feeling now or not?' We have to prove it in racing, so we still have to wait and see.
“In testing, it's not the case that you follow another car and you feel nothing anymore and if you're faster you just pass. You still feel that you lose grip all around, some cars maybe more at the front, some cars more at the rear. It depends on the car, but you still lose downforce, so you still lose grip and that makes it tough to overtake. How tough? That needs to be answered in the next races,” he declared.