Red Bull Racing's Mark Webber remains adamant his team have a strong platform to build on despite being outclassed by a resurgent McLaren outfit during Melbourne's F1 2012 season opener.
Home favourite Webber could only manage a fourth place, while his world champion team-mate Sebastian Vettel seemed to take full of advantage of a 'get of jail free card' to take an impressive second given the circumstances.
The 2010 nearly man, however, points out the results of both Saturday and Sunday doesn't necessarily paint the whole picture, as a series of mistakes from Vettel during his qualifying hot lap and a KERS issue for the number two car left them slightly out of position come race day.
Despite this, Webber admits rivals McLaren are the complete package at the moment even if the RB8 is seemingly able to match the MP4-27 in race trim.
“At the front, it was a bit of a role-reversal from last year in many ways - McLaren were very quick in qualifying on Saturday, while they and my Red Bull Racing team were much more evenly matched in the race on Sunday,” Webber said in his BBC
F1 column. “We had some problems on Saturday. My KERS power-boost system was not working in qualifying and my team-mate Sebastian Vettel made a couple of mistakes on his laps, but even then I don't think we'd have been able to match the McLaren times.
“Pace-wise everything turned out as we expected. It was a reasonably even affair. But we had very poor track position and needed to recover before we could have a crack at the McLarens. McLaren put together the most complete performance last weekend, but we all know nothing is forever.”
The 35-year old also conceded that the eventual race winner Jenson Button was notably in a league of his own, but was disappointed not to emulate his team-mate's success in getting the better of the other McLaren of Lewis Hamilton.
“Jenson Button was untouchable in the lead, but Seb managed to get past Lewis Hamilton into second place, with the help of the safety car period,” Webber continued. “And although I got close to Lewis, overtaking is never very easy in Melbourne and I couldn't get past.”
Webber now heads to Malaysia's Sepang circuit in optimistic spirits, as the Aussie not only heads to a circuit he enjoys but does so in a car he feels much more comfortable in as opposed to last season: “I felt I drove very well in Australia, which was a nice way to start the year, and this weekend we go to a track I love - Sepang in Malaysia,” he added.
Given the nature of the circuit which demands much of a cars aero package, the Red Bull man expects yet another strong challenge from the Lotus team: “Malaysia is quite an aerodynamically demanding track and the Lotus looks good in that area, so I'd also expect a challenge from Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean in Sepang.
“I think it will be a cracking grand prix and I'm really looking forward to it. It's going to be fascinating to see how the next few grand's prix go.”
by Simon Evans