Despite giving all the airs of a man carrying the guilt of causing last weekend's accident with Robert Kubica in Melbourne, Sebastian Vettel feels that he has been harshly punished ahead of round two in Malaysia this weekend.
Vettel was struggling on the softer compound Bridgestone in the closing stages of the Australian Grand Prix, allowing Kubica - on the harder option - to close in on second place, with his sights set firmly on race leader Jenson Button, who was also lapping slower on the softer tyres.
Forced to defend his position, Vettel clashed with Kubica, both cars sustaining damage in what many saw as a racing incident. After the race, Vettel conceded that perhaps he could have settled for third place and a safe six points - and continued to hold the same view as he arrived in Kuala Lumpur.
"I can only repeat what I said in Australia," he reflected, "Obviously, I had a bad run out of turn one, [and] Robert had more speed. I was on the soft tyres and they were pretty worn at that stage, and he was on the hard compound. Then, braking for turn three, I was trying to defend my position. I was on the inside and was very cautious to start braking because I didn't know how dirty it was there. He was braking a little bit later.
"Under braking, I was catching up and was more or less side-by-side. Then, at some stage, I noticed that he was pulling to the apex and doesn't give me a lot of room. I tried to avoid contact but, at that point, there was no chance to get out of there, as I was already far to the right, running over the kerb. Then we made contact.
"I lost my front wing and after that point I had no control over the car, so it was a bit of a shame that it meant the end the race for both of us."
Although both continued initially, neither made it to the end of the lap without finding the wall, but Vettel still attempted to drag his injured Red Bull back into the race. It was this, as much as the accident itself, that the stewards took objection too, fining both team and driver in addition to imposing the Sepang penalty on the young German.
"Of course I am not happy with the penalty," Vettel insisted, "For me, it was a racing incident - there is no logic behind taking him out of the race because I took [myself] out of the race as well. It is not just a shame for him, but also for us. We had a strong weekend and a strong race and just a couple of laps to finish and we didn't make it."
Despite the setback, however, Vettel remained optimistic that he can take something out of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
"We have to try to make the best possible job," he admitted, "I think we have a good car - I think we brought a good car to Australia and, hopefully, to here as well. The circuit is slightly different and the weather is not good at the moment, but let's see on Sunday. We will push very hard to get the best possible result."