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Vettel disappointed with start to the season

17 March 2013

For a driver who'd just finished on the podium in the first F1 race of 2013, Sebastian Vettel wasn't exactly looking overjoyed.

But given that Red Bull had come into the Australian Grand Prix weekend in Melbourne riding on a high after dominating the final pre-season testing, and then going on to convincingly lock-up the front row of the grid at Albert Park in the rain-hit qualifying session that had been deferred to Sunday morning, Vettel had been expecting more.

"I think you're always a little disappointed when you start first and don't finish first, said the reigning world champion, who comes into the 2013 season aiming to make it four titles in a row. "But overall it was a good weekend for us," he rallied. "We had a good day today with a pole and a podium."

“Starting from the front row, third and sixth obviously wasn't the result we were targeting," agreed Red Bull team principal Christian Horner. "But all things considered, with the way that the race panned out, I think it was the optimum we could achieve."

Vettel had got a great start off the line, unlike his team mate Mark Webber, who was suffering from telemetry and KERS problems and rapidly dropped back to seventh place. He's pulled out a two second lead at one point over the rest of the field and looked set to scamper away into the distance as many had expected before the race. Only it didn't happen.

Instead, the two Ferraris of Felipe Massa and Fernando Alonso started to cut the gap down and were soon both running within a second of the Red Bull. But an even more potent problem was emerging in the shape of those drivers managing to make a two-stop strategy work, chiefly Kimi Raikkonen in the Lotus and Force India's Adrian Sutil.

"Obviously the degradation was a bit more intense for us than for others," admitted Vettel. "We had a bit of a problem with the wear of the tyres - and obviously Kimi did the best job looking after the tyres out of everyone managing to stop only twice. A two-stop strategy was never on the table for us after Friday."

Horner had been equally impressed by the Finn's performance in Melbourne. "Lotus seemed very light on its tyres, with Kimi being able to make a two-stop race really work for him," he said.

"In the race we were a little too aggressive with the tyres and lost the front and the rears, while others did a little better," Vettel continued. "Right from the first few laps we saw that it would be very hard to look after the tyres and that Ferrari was closing in.

"In the second stint we were a bit stuck behind Adrian, who did a great job and we really couldn't get past him because the moment I tried I started sliding. But as I knew that it was the same for all of those behind me, I wasn't in too much of a hurry.

"We didn't see Kimi on the track, he was too quick and Fernando jumped us at a vulnerable time," continued Vettel. "Everything changes if one decides to pit early on to get past you with a pit stop manoeuvre, like Fernando did. He got the position ... You could see that he was a bit faster towards the end of the stints, and there was no chance for us to stick with him or get past him.

"But we can be happy with third," Vettel summed up. "There are always areas where you can improve, but the result we got today is fair."

Now it's a quick turnaround for Red Bull and all the teams, with the second race of the season at Sepang International Circuit following hard on the heels of the Australian leg in just a few days time.

"We leave this race knowing we've got a good car and we're looking forward to warmer temperatures in Malaysia next week," said Horner, accentuating the positives.


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