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F1 Bahrain 2013: Tyres mask likely title rivals, admits Vettel
22 April 2013
Bahrain Grand Prix winner Sebastian Vettel was unable to single out any one threat to his dream of racking up a fourth consecutive F1 world championship, admitting that different teams were strong at different races.
The German cruised to his second win of the season at Sakhir, while the opposition either self-destructed, in Ferrari's case, or started too far back on the grid, as per Lotus. The victory opened out a ten-point cushion for Vettel at the top of the standings, but he refused to single out any one team as Red Bull's biggest rival.
”I don't know, it's a long, long championship,” he said, “I think, if you look at the first four races, Lotus is very quick, [and] they manage the tyres pretty well in the race. Ferrari is very quick, the cars haven't changed too much compared to last year. So, if you look, pure performance is very tight.
“On a Sunday, it can be different because of the way you take care of the tyres - sometimes you're in a better shape, sometimes not - but I think the Ferrari is an all-round car, as in they're always quick and they've been very competitive in the race.
“Mercedes is surely very quick over a lap, but probably a little bit too aggressive with the tyres. I'm a little bit surprised by McLaren, but I think they will come back at some stage this year, probably already in Barcelona. That's how it is, but to point out the main rivals, I think we need to look after ourselves, make sure we score points as everything else is difficult to predict.”
Vettel was quick to praise the tyre strategy adopted by Red Bull for the Bahrain race, in which he ran the majority of the 57 laps on the harder Pirelli option.
“We were more or less committed to that [after] using all the softs in qualifying and being able to position ourselves on the front row nicely for the race,” he noted, “It was then about trying to make the first stint [on the mediums] as long as possible and go from there with three sets of new hard tyres.
“In the end, I think there was not that much difference between the medium and the hard, [but] we felt a little bit happier on long runs, probably on the hard, and that's why we decided to go that way. It's difficult to say how good or bad the medium would have been because we didn't have a new set of medium tyres, but I think that the fact that we sit here is pointing out that we did a good job today on that front.”
Admitting that he has been among the most vociferous opponents of the current tyres, Vettel conceded that he couldn't complain to loudly as his results were still strong.
“I did talk about the tyres, I did complain, but I always said that, as long as there are other people doing a better job, then we have no right to complain, we need to catch up,” he explained, “I don't think you have to be a genius to see that, from race to race, some people suffer with the tyres - maybe someone more and some people less – and cannot go the true pace of their cars. It's obviously very strategic these days but, then again, it's the same for all of us.
“Out of four races, I think we've had two good ones and two maybe average ones, but, if you look at the results, the average is not really disastrous either. To come third and fourth is a very strong result and I'm sure not complaining about the results.
“Comparing F1 to a couple of years ago, it's surely different - you can't push as hard as you like every lap, you have to work with the tyres and sit at a certain pace and go from there. That's what we - at least the drivers that I have talked to – think is enjoyable than in the past.”