Sebastian Vettel hasn’t enjoyed a great start to 2014, but in Spain there were clear signs that he’s finally coming to terms with the RB10.
After a gearbox problem and grid penalty relegated him to 15th on the grid, he used a three-stop strategy to jump up to fourth, setting fastest lap along the way. He was still 27 seconds behind teammate Daniel Ricciardo, but he lost much of that in traffic in the early laps.
“All in all it was the maximum we could do,” he said. “The start wasn’t bad, I lost a place I think to Adrian [Sutil], but then I was able to get it back towards the end of the lap. It’s always tricky when you’re back there, a very busy first lap.
“Then I was sort of stuck in the train, I couldn’t really feel how far we could go and how quick we were, but once we came in I was able, on the harder tire, to stick with the people at the front, and even catch them a little bit. I think we realized that the pace was there. After that we had the two fresh sets from yesterday which we didn’t use in qualifying, and I could go further up the road.
“From a team point of view third and fourth is what we could get today, but if you are realistic then yes, Mercedes is very strong. They have a phenomenal engine, they have two very good drivers, a very good car, and a very good team. They are doing a good job. It would be wrong to stand here and complain and moan about how dominant they are, they worked better than everyone else over the winter and they deserve to be in that position. Hopefully from out point of view sooner rather than later we can give them a hard time, and the Mercedes run comes to an end. So that’s our motivation.
“It’s just a question of time, I guess. Obviously we are here to fight for the championship. If you look at the championship the last couple of races weren’t so good for us, especially myself, whereas they were phenomenal for Mercedes. In time we can catch up and, as I said, start giving them a run for their money.”
With regard to what Red Bull has to do to catch up, he said: “We’ve got to fight for every little bit. You can walk up and down the paddock but there’s not one stone that you turn and all of a sudden you are back. We have to make sure we take every little step, and if we add all these little steps together, hopefully sooner or later we’ll give them a very hard time and make sure they don’t finish first and second.”
He also had some positive words to say about the progress Red Bull has made since winter testing.
“I think it means that the team is incredibly strong. If you look where we started in Spain a couple of months ago and where we are now, obviously it’s a big step. Also it’s a fact that Mercedes is far ahead, and we need to make sure we keep making big steps.”