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Vettel hints title battle is narrowing down...

Having rediscovered his winning ways in Valencia following an uncharacteristically off-colour run, Sebastian Vettel has reflected that it is 'about time' Red Bull Racing was back on top - and now the goal is to stay there!
It might have taken him six races to do it, but Sebastian Vettel was ebullient after regaining the top step of the rostrum following Sunday's European Grand Prix – and starting to sense that the F1 2010 title fight could be boiling down to a two-horse duel between Red Bull Racing and McLaren-Mercedes.

In the wake of his contentious Turkish Grand Prix collision with team-mate Mark Webber in Istanbul last month, Vettel had become something of the black sheep of the F1 fraternity – and the momentum inside the RBR garage seemed to be firmly on the side of the in-form Australian. However, pole position in Valencia and a commanding triumph 24 hours later have vaulted the sport's youngest-ever grand prix-winner firmly into the reckoning once more as the chase for the crown hits the halfway mark.

“It's good to be back winning and on a circuit where we didn't expect to be that strong,” the German reflected. “It is about time, I would say! It hasn't been the easiest [season] so far, but what happened, happened – we cannot change it. We were quick enough at all times in the race to pull away, build a gap and then guide the car home. Looking at the first stint and then after the re-start, when we were in the 'pushing' mode, let's say, I was very happy and the pace seemed to be very strong and we were able to pull away at two or three tenths a lap.

“I thought I had a very good initial launch, and then I saw in the mirrors Mark and Lewis [Hamilton] fighting. I think Lewis passed him right away, and then into Turn One I saw that Lewis was quite late on the brakes on the inside, so I tried to give as much room as I could. Once you set your braking-point it is difficult to react and say 'okay, I will delay it'. It was closer than I expected, closer than I wanted, but there wasn't much I could have done to go further to the left.

“I think we touched, [but] I was quite lucky. I felt the hit in Turn Two; what I was most afraid of was that his front wing had touched my rear tyre and given me a puncture, but a couple of corners later I could feel there was nothing wrong with the car and everything was alright. I think he (Hamilton) hit the inside kerb a little bit, so there is not much you can do. When I came back in after the race and stopped the car I saw that the right-hand-side floor was damaged a little bit, but it didn't seem to make that great a difference

“After that I was very happy with the car, and I pulled away and managed a very good gap. I tried to manage the tyres and I have to say the 'Options' at the start worked really, really well – I did not try to push too hard [because] you don't know the reaction after five or ten laps, but I never got the feeling that they were dropping away, and balance-wise I was extremely happy.

“I was a bit afraid when I saw the safety car boards, as I was just on the main straight and I thought 'this will be tough as the cars that follow might get a stop for free' – 20 seconds or ten seconds earlier and I would have been able to react right, but I was lucky that the first couple of cars were in the same situation that I was and I think we managed it well.

“The re-start was tight again and after the safety car I had a huge lock-up into last corner trying to brake as late as I could. I was trying to defend and probably was a little bit too late, plus I underestimated the tyre temperature at that stage – after the pit stop and when you go around slowly, you never really have the chance to bring the tyres up to temperature. They were colder than I expected, but I could stay in front.

“After that I had a bit of a front-right flat-spot, but it was alright. Obviously [there were] a lot of laps to do, but I never really tried to push hard because I didn't want to do anything stupid. When I got the message that Lewis [Hamilton] had to go to the pits to get his drive-through, I could adjust the pace and backed off a bit. It is good to get a lot of points. It is good for the championship, and I'm very pleased. I think the guys can be extremely proud. It was another tough weekend for them [with] very little sleep, but it pays off.”

Related Pictures

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Celebration, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB6 race winner
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Race, Sebastian Vettel (GER), Red Bull Racing, RB6
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Kevin Magnussen - Haas F1 Team [credit: Haas F1 Team]
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