Sebastian Vettel says Red Bull should not be thought of as title outsiders despite expecting to start the season off the pace.

Red Bull goes in to this weekend's Australian Grand Prix after a wretched pre-season during which it only managed to complete a total of 319 laps across 12 days. While Vettel admits the struggles that Red Bull endured means it is bracing itself for a tough weekend, he says there is plenty of time for the team to recover in terms of the championship.

Asked if it was fair that he is not as confident of making it five titles in a row, Vettel replied: "I think that's not fair to say because it's a long year.

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"I think our pre-season testing and preparation has not been ideal and we're probably not in the best position for this race but it is a different story when we talk about the championship. It's a long way to go.

"Two years back, Fernando [Alonso] was on the grid with 1.5 seconds to pole position and he was very close to beating us to the title at the very last race. Anything can happen, that's why this race is important just like any other one. There's a lot of races still to go."

With Red Bull having covered such little mileage during testing, Vettel said the RB10 would still be heavily updated compared to the one which finished the final test in Bahrain.

"I think it will be a very different car. Obviously for us we had a lot of problems during the test so we didn't get to test a lot of stuff. We hope to do some more running here and put the parts on the car that we think are better for overall performance. So it will be a bit different."

And Vettel said his mindset wouldn't change approaching the new season with a car unlikely to be able to challenge for wins early on.

"At this stage it's difficult for all of us to know what to expect as to how the racing will look, how it will feel inside the car, how many cars will cross the line. We had a lot of problems during the test, as did others, so it's difficult to have any sort of expectations.

"But it's a long season, so I'm going out to not simply make it round, but to the push to the maximum, to do the best I can, and then we'll see where we are and how far we get. The target is to finish, and to be in the best possible position.

"As to mindset, it's fairly straightforward for the rest of the year - we're a strong team, we have a lot of people good people on board, we have good resources, so we should progress as the season moves on."