Vettel: We’re motivated to make sure McLaren don’t keep the upper hand

Sebastian Vettel keeps cool in Malaysia

Sebastian Vettel keeps cool in Malaysia

Mar.23 (F1 Media) Sebastian Vettel say his Red Bull Racing team is “motivated and hungry” to take the fight to McLaren but that the Woking based team is still the one the beat after Jenson Button romped to a season-opening win in Australia last weekend.

Sebastian Vettel during practice for the Malaysian Formula One Grand Prix at the Sepang Circuit on March 23, 2012 in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.

Sebastian in the Red Bull RB8 during the first day of practice in Malaysia

Speaking on his arrival at Sepang circuit ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix, Vettel said that while Red Bull struggled against the McLarens of Button and Lewis Hamilton in Melbourne, there is “no reason to panic”.

“Surely in terms of performance we would have loved to have been stronger, particularly in qualifying, but it’s a long year, so there is no reason to panic,” he said. “We are motivated and hungry to make sure that McLaren don’t keep the upper hand, but for now you have to accept that they had a good weekend and good preparation in the winter. So we will see what happens this weekend.”

Vettel could only manage sixth in qualifying in Australia after a disrupted weekend that featured an off for the champion in FP3. However, the German recovered in the race to finish second behind Button and said yesterday that the team’s under-performance could largely be blamed on a lack of track time.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian in the Red Bull pit garage at Sepang

“It was important to get a lot of laps in the race to understand what we now need to focus on,” he said. “Here, it’s important to make sure we get some decent running. In Australia we had maybe one run in FP2 and then in free practice three it doesn’t help if I spin off the track. That I think will be the most important thing here. Whatever we thought was leading us in the right way will have to be confirmed. But we’re quite confident about the car’s potential but we need to see how it behaves this weekend.

“I think we need track time to really understand what’s going on,” he added. “I don’t think we have a particular problem in the car, as in we don’t understand what’s going on or that the front is too weak or the rear end is a disaster. It’s not like that. It’s fine tuning here and there.” Looking towards Sunday, Vettel said there were many teams with a legitimate reason to feel confident about the race.

“McLaren has done a very good step, they have a very competitive car, and from what we know they are quick everywhere. It’s not as if they have a weakness,” he said. “They will be the ones to beat and we will try our best but there are also others around. I think Mercedes left a very strong impression. It’s a shame on Sunday their pace was literally falling apart but they can be very quick here. Lotus can again be a surprise too.”