Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel has predicted that the battle for honours will be a lot closer this season.
Vettel blitzed the opposition in 2011, en-route
to successfully retaining his drivers' crown, and this year he will be bidding for his third title in a row. However after winning 11 of the 19 races last season and eventually finishing with 392 points – more than 100 up on his closest rival – he knows he might not have it so easy in 2012.
“The thing is, at the beginning of last year we didn't really expect whatever happened last year, so I think it's the same thing again. It would be wrong to go into this season and expect 2011 to happen again, as in getting into the lead early and having a very big gap to other competitors in the Championship,” Vettel said following the launch of the new RB8 today.
“So I think it will be very, very tight this year and everything else would be a surprise to be honest.
“Looking at the cars, you know there's not much room we have left to play (with) for designers and to find something extra.
“You know, the last two years we have had two big things taken away, the double diffusers, plus, for this year, the system around the blown exhaust. So we are missing that and therefore I think it's difficult to really create a difference.
“We'll see, obviously we hope our car is better than all the others but it will be difficult, and I think the cars will be fairly similar, as in the gaps will be even closer than they have been.”
With that in mind, Vettel added that the team have been busy during the off-season identifying areas – or 'details' as he puts it – that they need to improve on.
“Of course (in) 2011 we were extremely successful and it was a good season, so we did only very few mistakes,” Vettel added. “But still we sat down during the season and especially after the season and before this season again, trying to identify where we think we can improve, and yeah we got a couple of points.
“It's not as if it was a blank sheet, so you would be surprised, and I think you know, we had a couple of pages with things that we can do better, we know we can do better. Of course, there were a lot of things that we did well and we try to keep it up and improve them as well but, as I said, there are a lot of things here and there you know – small things, details, attention to detail – that you can work on that might make a difference on a Sunday.
“You know we have 20 races, so maybe it helps you only in one out of 20 races, but that might help you to score that one point more that you might need to be on top at the end, so we'll see...”