Sebastian Vettel has said he expects to see a closer battle between the top teams during the 2012 F1 season after completing his testing work in the second pre-season session of the year in Barcelona.
Vettel has now spent three days at the wheel of the new RB8 in preparation for the upcoming campaign, when he will attempt to lift the title for the third successive season.
The German admitted it was going to take Red Bull time to get the kinds of grip it found last year given the change in exhaust regulations for this season, but said he didn't think the true pecking order would be seen until the second round of the season in Malaysia.
“The biggest difference is that the cars have less grip, which will make us slower than last year,” he said in an interview with F1.com
. “Last season the way we incorporated the exhaust was very cleverly devised. It made the car faster by generating more grip, but it's a thing of the past in 2012 and for now we have to live with it. I would say that goes for all the other teams as well. We are looking into ways of getting that grip level back and I am sure we will succeed, although it will take time.
“[Last year] was beyond comparison. It was something you would think was a one-off, something you probably wouldn't even dare to dream of - and it happened to us! But, overall, the season was a fantastic year for the whole of Formula One. We saw great races and sizzling overtaking, so I would say that we provided a super show. Of course we hope to do it again this season. My guess is that the performance of the cars will be even closer this year, especially the gap between the front-running teams and the midfield. We will probably even see a few surprises. But it is too early to ink predictions and it will not be before Malaysia - on a 'normal' track - that any pecking order will begin to come into focus.”
Vettel admitted that the early running for the new Red Bull hadn't been without issues, after some problems were discovered in Jerez last week, but said the 'problems' were ones that would easily be resolved.
“What we are doing right now is eliminating any teething problems and focusing on reliability,” he said. “If you ask me what teething problems, then I can tell you that at Jerez we had some electronic issues. We have identified that problem and now we are working to solve it. The words 'problem' and 'issue' sound so serious but what we are looking at has nothing to do with the weight of those words.
“The genuine feeling is good but you should never bank on feelings in F1! I guess I don't have to say that we want to be faster than the rest. So let's wait and see, but as the same design whizz who created the RB6 and RB7 also created the RB8 we have the best possible pedigree.”