Sebastian Vettel has described his delight at his performance in the European Grand Prix in Valencia this weekend – with his Scuderia Toro Rosso team promising plenty more where that came from between now and season's end.
The undisputed star of practice and qualifying – a regular contender for the leading positions and sensationally topping the timesheets in two of the six sessions, more than any other driver did – the young German went on to every bit just as impressively.
He comfortably kept pace with the Ferrari of Kimi Raikkonen until the defending Formula 1 World Champion's late retirement, and even if he did lose a position to Toyota's Jarno Trulli during the opening round of pit-stops, sixth position at the chequered flag was nevertheless a tremendous achievement.
“Incredible!” the 21-year-old enthused afterwards. “A perfect day! It was fun, but tough and hot out there. It's a nice race track. My start was not so good on the dirty side, and going into turn one I was right on the limit and very close to Kimi.
“I could defend my position against Jarno for the first stint. He had a bit more fuel on-board and stayed out an extra lap and overtook me in the pits, but we can be very, very happy with this result.
“We made no mistakes all weekend and maximised our performance. The whole team can be very proud of what it has achieved, and hopefully for the next races we can be in the top ten again.”
STR's joy was completed by seeing the sister STR3 of Sébastien Bourdais similarly come home inside the top ten, 18 seconds shy of the points-scoring positions – a welcome tonic for the multiple Champ Car king, who has generally struggled in F1 since finishing seventh on his top flight debut in Melbourne back in March.
All weekend the 29-year-old has seemed considerably more at ease around the streets of the all-new, harbour-side Juan Carlos I Marina circuit, one not entirely unlike those on which he shone repeatedly across the Pond from 2003 until 2007. It could, though, he pointed out, have been even better still.
“That was a very nice race,” the Frenchman acknowledged, “apart from the fact that I touched with Heidfeld which broke my wing. That was a real shame, as I had to do 17 laps like that, losing around 20 seconds to the group I was in. The next two stints were good quality and I had good pace.