Mark Webber insists that the opening two rounds of the new F1 season haven't given a true indication of the pace of teams up and down the grid.
Webber sits fourth in the championship standings after two races but has yet to make it onto the podium, with team-mate Sebastian Vettel having taken the one podium finish for Red Bull so far this year in Australia.
Albert Park, scene of the season opener, isn't regarded as a good indicator of form while the rain that affected the Malaysian Grand Prix also led to surprises as Fernando Alonso beat Sergio Perez to victory – leaving Webber to admit that we haven't yet seen the true form guide for the year ahead.
“I'm reasonably satisfied with the way I've started the season, even though my Red Bull Racing team have not been as strong as in the last two years,” he wrote in his BBC
column. “[However] the two races so far have not really given us a full form guide.
“Mercedes have come away empty-handed, despite showing some strong pace, and Lotus have also got some speed in their car but not quite delivered the results they're capable of. That can happen when everyone's a bit raw in the early races of the season.
“I'm fourth in the championship, behind Fernando, Lewis Hamilton and Jenson, so it's been a solid start. The team have been brilliant all winter in helping me prepare, from the engineering side, through team principal Christian Horner and chief technical officer Adrian Newey - and it has been great to start the season in a positive way. I've got a pretty good feeling in the car and we made a definite step forward in performance in Malaysia.
“That's good but you're never satisfied until you're at the front, and we've got two weeks to try to ensure that's where we are for the next two races in China and Bahrain.”
Webber also took time to praise Perez for his performance in the Sepang race, with the Mexican coming close to a maiden win before a late error saw him lose the chance to fight Alonso for a place on the top step of the podium.
“In the first part of the race, before it was stopped because of the heavy rain, Perez gained a lot of time by fitting full wet tyres after only two laps,” he said. “The track was heading that way, but the trouble in Malaysia is you just don't know if the rain's suddenly going to stop - and when it does, it's so hot it dries up really quickly.
“All the front-runners stopped a couple of laps later, which meant Perez was third when the race was halted. He backed it up, though. You can't just fluke a strategy call and finish second - it's a long grand prix, the car was well balanced and he got the job done.”