After getting the defence of his hard-fought drivers' crown underway with a peerless victory under the Australian sun in Melbourne, reigning F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel asserted that Red Bull Racing's pace over the weekend proves the team was anything but boring in the design of its new RB7.
Vettel had already laid down a potent marker by lapping almost a full second out-of-reach of any of his rivals during the final free practice session on Saturday morning, and then replicating that form in the all-important qualifying session to snare an unchallenged pole position.
Twenty-four hours later, he made a textbook getaway when the starting lights went out in the curtain-raising Australian Grand Prix and effortlessly cleared off into the distance, his only minor drama coming when he emerged from his first pit-stop in the wheel tracks of Jenson Button, with some suggesting the British star might try to hold Vettel up in order to aid his own McLaren-Mercedes team-mate Lewis Hamilton.
Button never got chance. Vettel boldly swept around the outside of his adversary through Turn Four shortly after, and from that point on was barely seen again as he motored serenely on with scarcely a care in the world, taking the chequered flag a commanding 22 seconds ahead of Hamilton for his first-ever finish around the streets of Albert Park. Job done – and an ominous prospect for the rest of the grid as they look forward, even if the German himself is refusing to get carried away by the result.
“Some people were disappointed when we launched the car,” he reflected in a post-race interview with BBC Sport
. “They said, 'it looks boring, it looks like last year, they haven't done anything, they haven't been aggressive' – but I think we have, and we have proven that coming here and have probably surprised a couple of people.
“Obviously, it was a great race and I'm very pleased – it was a very good weekend, and I had a very nice car to sit in this afternoon. I'm really pleased for the whole team. The start was crucial; being on the clean side, I had a very good getaway. I didn't know if it was enough, but then I saw Lewis and Mark [Webber – Red Bull team-mate] battling for position into Turn One.
“After lap one, I had a bit of a cushion, which I tried to control. When the tyres went off towards the end of the stint, Lewis caught up so we decided to pit quite early. I think it was the right time, as I couldn't have done more laps. I came out behind Jenson, so it was very important obviously to get past him as soon as I could. The difference in tyres as you could see was very big, so I caught up quickly and fortunately got past.
“After that, the second part of the race was a bit smoother and a bit calmer for us, because Lewis didn't keep on pushing so hard, although I didn't know what was going on behind him, if he was under pressure or not. We could, I wouldn't say lean back, but we could control the race a little bit more from then onwards. The second half of the race was not 100 per cent representative, because I think neither of us raced to our full potential.
“I don't think it was easy today, but we learned a lot of things – and all-in-all, it's good coming here after a long winter and a bit of an unknown with what was going on at some points with tyres etcetera, and setting the pace and winning the race.