Christian Horner brushed aside any concern about Red Bull's performance in the F1 2013 Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne on Sunday, and insisted that the team's new RB9 contender had amply demonstrated its pace.
"The really positive things are we've come here, we've got a quick car, we've qualified on the pole," the Red Bull
team principal pointed out as the teams departed Australia for next weekend's race in Malaysia. "RB9 is a competitive car."
He insisted that the team wasn't disappointed with the outcome of the season opener, which saw drivers Sebastian Vettel
and Mark Webber
finish third and sixth despite starting alongside each other on the front row of the grid, and that overall "it has been a very positive weekend for us" in Melbourne.
"We know that we've got a good car, certainly through practice. Our least competitive moments were during the race," he said, blaming set-up problems for Vettel's struggled and issues with the car's electrical system for Webber's poor start and lack of KERS in the first half of the race.
"Mark was very competitive in the race and had better tyre durability than Sebastian in the race so we have to look again at where the differences in set-up were between the two drivers," said Horner. "I think it's more set-up dependent than inherent in the car," adding that the weather conditions at Melbourne had just been a little outside the car's comfort zone.
"We've been out of the window in the race, which is ironic because 12 months ago it was the opposite - we struggled to qualify but had a car that was very soft on the tyre in the race," he added. "I think we're only going to get a real, true picture of form after about four or five races, when we've gone to different venues, different tracks, different asphalt surfaces, then we'll get a true picture of form."
Even so, it seems from the evidence of Albert Park that other teams have got a better grip on tyre use at this stage of the season, with Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen
leading the way. "Kimi really made it work, his car set-up was very light on the tyre.
"Could we have done a two-stop? No chance. We never had the range on the tyre - it was never an option," admitted Horner. "Kimi is the only driver/car combination that could make a two-stop really work ... He did the fastest lap on a tyre that was older than we could have dreamed going anywhere near."
But Horner is optimistic that the second race of the season in the considerably hotter and more humid conditions of Kuala Lumpur will be more to the Red Bull's taste.
"I think we've learned an awful lot [from Melbourne], and hopefully it won't be quite as chilly next weekend!" he said.