Sebastian Vettel has played down claims that Red Bull Racing has an advantage over its rivals on this year's Formula One grid, insisting that circumstances have contrived to put the Milton Keynes team ahead in the eyes of observers.
The German claimed pole for each of the first two races of 2010, and looked on course for victory before mechanical problems intervened, before taking the win in Malaysia after team-mate Mark Webber had claimed fastest time in qualifying. Neither driver heads the world championship standings, however, with Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso holding a 1-2 for Ferrari, and Vettel is keen to play down the rumours of superiority.
"It's not like we have a massive advantage like teams had five years ago," the 22-year old reasoned, "In Malaysia, we were in a luxurious position because some of the quick teams failed in qualifying, and I think the race would have been different if we had all started at the front.
"We know we have a very good car, but the other teams are always improving. There's a very, very long straight here [in China], so McLaren could be quite strong again, [and] some people are saying some of the teams are bringing new parts. It's not easy to deliver all the time - in the end, you have to get the best out of your package and to be consistent as possible. For sure, it will be tough to beat Mark again and then you've got all the others - Ferraris, McLarens, Mercedes..."
Vettel currently sits two points behind Massa, and equal with Alonso, in the standings, and a repeat of 2009 Chinese GP victory for Red Bull would give him the standings lead under F1's new scoring system, but he insists that he and RBR are still playing chase.
"We have to catch up," he maintained, "If you look at the world championship ranking, there is no gap - we are behind the others. I hope that, if we keep going as we have done in the last race, we can catch the others."