After brake problems robbed him of the runner-up spot in Sunday's Spanish Grand Prix – and the three extra points that would have accompanied it – Sebastian Vettel has acknowledged that Red Bull Racing rapidly needs to start making the most of having the quickest car at its disposal in F1 2010 with consistent results that accurately reflect its pace and potential.
Vettel has three times sat on pole position thus far this season, and has not started lower than third in any of the opening five grands prix – but spark plug woes in Bahrain, wheel-fixing troubles in Australia, poor wet weather form from the RB6 in Malaysia and now brake woes in the latter stages in Barcelona have seen to it that the man who should
be leading the title standings by a country mile is actually ten points off the lead in P3.
With Adrian Newey's conception once again comfortably the fastest thing on four wheels around the Circuit de Catalunya at the weekend, Red Bull was looking all-set for its second commanding one-two of the campaign – and then, not for the first time in 2010, things went wrong...
“I was braking for Turn Seven,” the young German recounted, “and then 'boom' and I went straight on. I saw that something flew off the car and I'd had brake failures in the past, so it was extremely difficult. Every time I then touched the brakes the car was pulling massively to the right and didn't stop properly, obviously, so I knew something was wrong. I thought at that stage that was it.
“I pitted, they changed the tyres, they probably had a quick look, but they couldn't see anything and there's nothing that you can fix quickly so I was sent back out. The next lap I got the call to come in and retire, and I said 'is there no chance to save some points?' I still had three brakes around the car.
“Obviously at that stage I didn't know I was fourth, but I was telling the team that I would love to try and keep racing and try to save some points – though towards the end it was getting critical because you don't want to have another failure. At that stage I thought maybe two or three points were better than nothing, but it turned out to be a lot more and I even finished on the podium – so like it or not, I think it was a very lucky day.”
Vettel had been sandwiched between the McLaren-Mercedes of Lewis Hamilton – who had opportunistically nipped past the Heppenheim native upon exiting his pit-stop after Scuderia Toro Rosso's lapped Sébastien Buemi got in the way – and the Ferrari of Fernando Alonso, and he reflected that 'all three of us were within a couple of tenths' prior to his difficulties, with his principal goal being to 'bring the car home and try to save the engine, save the tyres and save the brakes'.
Unexpected grip and balance issues did little to help the 22-year-old's efforts either, and whilst he admitted the outcome in the circumstances was not 'a disaster', Vettel is adamant that RBR's costly run of unreliability, unnecessary niggles and sheer misfortune must
come to an end.
“We need to work and keep pushing,” he concluded. “Mark [Webber – team-mate] had a race without any problems, but for me it was the other way around. The car is fast, but you have to be able to use that every single time.”