Sebastian Vettel has admitted that, whatever happens in qualifying for the Bahrain Grand Prix, there are sill a lot of things to be discovered when racing gets underway on Sunday.
The German, who won the final round of 2009 and finished second overall to Jenson Button in the standings, was fifth fastest in the combined free practice times from Sakhir, and did not enjoy an entirely trouble-free opening day, leading to some question marks over tyre choice for the final phase of qualifying and, under the new rules, the opening stint of Sunday's race.
"I think the biggest unknown is how the racing will look on Sunday," he confirmed, "Obviously, the temperature should help all of us, but I think it will nevertheless be something new. Either it will be total excitement for the spectators, [and] a mess for us in the car, because some drivers will struggle more with tyres, some less, or it will be boring and the cars will just follow each other because they're stuck behind each other and can't do much. I think we have to see.
"In qualifying, first of all we need to see what we have done today compared to the others. Then, tomorrow morning, the latest at lunchtime more or less, you have to decide what you want to do in qualifying. I think, first of all, you have to manage to get into Q3. It looks tight, so it won't be easy. There is a strong midfield as well, so they could easily ruin your day. If you ask me now, I have no clue [what will happen], and I think it makes it more difficult because we don't know how the race will unfold.
"I think today is still very difficult to read. Sometimes it is easy, sometimes it is a bit more difficult but, if you really want to say precisely where everyone is, I think, at this stage, it is still a bit too early. From what I have seen in the session, it is no secret that, this afternoon, Ferrari seemed to run a bit heavier, whereas Mercedes tried with a little bit less fuel in the beginning and then put some fuel back into the car for the rest of it.
"I think at this stage we are in decent shape. I would have loved to run a lot more and get more laps and more data but, at this stage, I think Ferrari and McLaren look extremely competitive."
Vettel admitted that the gremlins that struck his RB6 had left him frustrated, but he wasn't too concerned that the problems were serious enough to derail his entire weekend.
"I would have loved to run more," he acknowledged, "I think, this morning, the circuit was not in very good shape, with not a lot of rubber down, especially on the new part, but, in the afternoon, I think we had quite a lot of rubber, but I did not run very much.
"I had a problem with the brakes, brake failure, and [RBR team-mate] Mark [Webber] had a problem as well. Maybe some of you, between the practice and the press conference, were able to have a coffee, but I was not. I just got out of my suit and had a short debrief and came here, so I don't know the reason yet for the failure we had. It's always difficult. You don't really analyse within the session, because you just make sure you change [the damaged part] as quickly as possible and use the amount of time you have left. It was on the front, the front left but, here, there is quite a lot of run-off, so it was no problem, but it is still not something you like to happen."