Sebastian Vettel has shrugged off suggestions that the tweaked hard compound tyre Pirelli is bringing to this weekend's Spanish Grand Prix will favour his Red Bull Racing team.
Despite the Milton Keynes operation topping both sets of F1 standings after four rounds – and with two Vettel victories already in the bank – concern over the rate of degradation seen at the early rounds has prompted Pirelli to alter the make-up of its hardest compound [ see separate story
] ahead of Barcelona – a move critics believe will play into the hands of both RBR and Mercedes, who most vociferously campaigned for a return to 2012 rubber ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix.
Vettel, however, insists that nothing can be taken for granted, with all eleven teams only getting their hands on the revised tyre in the opening practice session on Friday morning.
“[Our main focus is] to see how the modified tyres work,” the German told the official F1 website, “How can anybody make such statements without ever having seen them on a car? That is again a job for the soothsayers. I would rather wait until tomorrow.”
In a separate meeting with journalists, Vettel had confirmed that it wasn't Red Bull calling for a change in Pirelli's approach to its rubber.
“I think there was more talk than action from our side – as in I think we said what happened to us as a team, what we felt happened to us as drivers, just like everybody else,” he claimed, “But, sure, there's a lot of attention and then people try to make their own stories. I think you could say, for the whole grid, that people were struggling with the tyres - it's not a secret, it's not just us.
“I think we also learned to deal with the tyres, with the situation. Sometimes you succeed a little bit more, sometimes less, but it's the same for other people [but], yeah, up to a certain point, you feel, as a driver, it's obviously different racing.
“It's the same for everyone but, for example, in the race in China, where we struggled with tyres, I had the occasion that Fernando was approaching from behind. I was on a different strategy to him, so I was on different tyres. There was no point fighting with him because, in the end, I would only slow down my own race. So, I don't wave him past, but I'm not really resisting. It's a different style of racing and I think that's what we, if anything, criticised in the past.”
The world champion also tried to play down the amount of revision his car may have undergone in the three-week break since the Bahrain Grand Prix, despite Barcelona being a traditional launch point for teams' first major upgrade of the season.
“To be honest, not too much,” he smiled, when asked how much change there would be to the RB9, “I think that the current rules are so exhausted that no big changes are possible and that is what I think we will see this weekend: no huge surprises. But I also might be wrong…”
Vettel's two wins from four races – including the controversial success at Sepang – already have sections of the paddock suggesting that the German is on his way to a fourth straight title, but the man himself insists that it is 'much too early to make any predictions'.
“Who would be so bold as to predict the outcome of a 19-race championship after only four races?” he asked, “This weekend we have to concentrate on the modified tyres - and the work that we have to do before Sunday to get our car right.”