In a show of solidarity, in the wake of his superb Malaysian Grand Prix victory in Sepang at the weekend Sebastian Vettel has stressed that he never lost faith in the ability of Red Bull Racing to provide him with a car that is as reliable as it is fast – explaining that 'we stick together in good and bad times'.
The two opening grands prix of the F1 2010 World Championship campaign in Bahrain and Australia were undoubtedly 'bad times' for Vettel and Red Bull, as after setting pole position on both occasions and holding a commanding lead on race day, the German saw his efforts undone by a spark plug failure in Sakhir and suspected wheel-fixing woes Down Under in Melbourne.
That led to much criticism of the apparent fragility of the Adrian Newey-designed, Renault-powered RB6, with some paddock observers – triple F1 World Champion Niki Lauda and 13-time grand prix-winner and former Red Bull ace David Coulthard amongst them – opining that the Milton Keynes-based squad was doing a textbook job of throwing its title hopes out of the window.
The early disappointments left both Vettel and RBR on the back foot and with ground to make up heading to Malaysia – and they delivered in some style, with a resounding one-two that has vaulted the Heppenheim native to within just two points of the lead in the lead in the drivers' standings, and similarly hauled Red Bull firmly into touch with the pace-setters in the chase for constructors' glory. In one fell swoop, the critics were silenced.
“There's always a lot of talking,” Vettel acknowledged. “Yes, we didn't have great first and second races; we didn't do the best job we could, but that's life. You build racing cars to go as quickly as they can. They're built on the limit, and sometimes something breaks.
“When it happens on Friday, no-one cares, but if it happens on Sunday, obviously everyone is highlighting the issue and blaming you for poor reliability. We are a team – we stick together in good and bad times. We win and lose together; it's not like in football where you probably change the coach after you've lost two times.”
The sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner was eager to stress, however, that Red Bull can afford to take nothing for granted despite benefitting from what is ostensibly the quickest car in the field at present. Predicting a long season ahead, the 22-year-old also forecast all manner of twists and turns before the eventual champion is crowned.
“If anything, it shows how quickly it can turn around,” he mused of Sepang. “We probably do have a little bit of an advantage at this time, but we have to work hard and focus on what is happening now to maintain the good performance and then go race-by-race.
“There may be times when we will struggle as well and we won't be able to win. We might only get fourth or fifth, but we have to make sure we finish fourth or fifth then, and not put the car in the wall or finish eighth or out of the points.”