Sebastian Vettel has claimed that there is no major reason for Red Bull Racing's apparent drop in form in recent races, and insists that he expects the Milton Keynes team to be in the hunt for victory as the F1 season resumes at Spa-Francorchamps this weekend.
Neither Vettel or team-mate Mark Webber has stood on the top step of an F1 podium since the European Grand Prix in Valencia back in June, and have had to watch as Fernando Alonso, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson Button claimed the intervening races for Ferrari and McLaren respectively. None of the sport's leading quintet will boast that they have the best car on the grid, however, with each realising that it is very much 'horses for courses' at the front of the F1 field at present.
From dominating the category at the start of the season though, Red Bull - like Brawn in Button's 2009 championship year - appears to have slipped off its pedestal, allowing both Ferrari and McLaren to become a threat for victory on a more regular basis. Vettel, however, does not appear too concerned - no doubt helped by his 85-point cushion over Webber in the standings - insisting that the last three races have been determined by factors outside of the team's control.
"I think it's no secret," he maintained, "I can understand that you're quite curious now to find out what it was, but it was nothing, no secrets to reveal.
"Obviously, the last three races were pretty different in terms of conditions, especially Nurburgring, [where it] was a bit of a surprise with very cold temperatures. In the past, I think we have always been very competitive [there], but it was cold. It seemed that we were struggling more than others this year, so it's basic homework, nothing wrong that went on the car or nothing wrong with the car itself. It's just trying to get everything up to temperature quick enough where we seemed to struggle a little bit.
"As I said, I think, already for Hungary, we made a step forward and now we go from there. Obviously, we've had no time to test in between, so we can only analyse and think about those things which make more sense, but we need to confirm them on the track."
Vettel, who chased the sun during the summer break to erase memories of chilly conditions at Silverstone, the Nurburgring and Budapest, also dismissed suggestions that Red Bull was lacking in tyre knowledge in comparison to teams that had taken on former Bridgestone technicians.
"[There is] no doubt tyres are very important but, as I found out, we are on Pirelli tyres this year," he joked, "Obviously, there are some people around who have quite a good understanding about tyres in general, and we I'm happy with the people that we have in that area. There will always be some transfers - if it's not drivers, then it will be engineers - [but] that's normal."
While he naturally hopes to be back on top of the podium in Belgium, the Spa circuit - like Monza next month - is not expected to favour Red Bull's RB7 as much as either the McLaren or Ferrari, but Vettel remains confident of a good showing.
"In the last couple of races, we know we might not have been on the top of our game, but I think we have understood, and learnt, quite a lot, so we will see where we are this weekend," he reiterated, "We will see. It is not our favourite circuit as there are a lot of straights here, more than on most of the other tracks. There are some corners, but they are all in sector two, so sectors one and three are quite difficult [as] we have seen in the past. But I think, generally, we have had a very good car around here, the last two years especially, so I am looking forward."