“We have to catch up” – Vettel

2014 Australian Grand Prix

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Sebastian Vettel admits Red Bull are starting their championship defence on the back foot after problems during winter testing.

“We didn’t do as much running as we would have liked in testing this year, so we have work to do in Melbourne,” said Vettel, “but it will be good to get to the first race”.

Red Bull completed less mileage than all of their rivals bar Lotus and Marussia, neither of which had their car ready on the first day.

“It’s hard to know where we are,” said Vettel. “It’s fair to say that we’re not the favourites to win and we have to catch up with others that have completed more mileage, but we’ll do our best with the great people that we have working for the team.”

Vettel said his team are “working flat out as normal” to improve the RB10, which frequently broke down during testing due to problems with cooling and the electronic systems on its Renault Energy F1 engine.

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Keith Collantine
Lifelong motor sport fan Keith set up RaceFans in 2005 - when it was originally called F1 Fanatic. Having previously worked as a motoring...

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55 comments on ““We have to catch up” – Vettel”

  1. Chris (@tophercheese21)
    8th March 2014, 11:33

    As much as I enjoy Vettel not winning, I do want Red Bull to be competitive, just so the championship will be tighter.

    This is going to be such an exciting year! :D

  2. You can’t help but feel a bit of schenfraude when a team that has won so consistently since mid 2009 struggle (after all we all get bored of “more of the same”). As a fan I also did not enjoy the tyre whinging episode of last year when they were on the back foot and other teams like FI got it right. Nor do I believe that the flexi wing or the probable semi-traction control systems they may have had in place were fully above-board and within the spirit of the rules, that being said, no team can afford not to walk the ragged edge of legality if they want to stay competitive… I just wonder what kind of season we will see from them: a RBR 2009 where when they sorted out reliability they came charging through the ranks to challenge for both championships by the end of the season; or a McLaren 2009 where they had an abysmal first half to make up loads of ground by the end; or a McLaren style 2013 where they struggle all year trying to sort out engine and reliability and eventually call it quits and concentrate on 2015; or a BAR Honda season where they have a sound car but the PU lets them down. A lot of it will depend on how quickly Renault get up to speed with Ferrari and Merc. It would be a pity if Renault were underpowered with heat and reliability issues and the Ferrari PU was too thirsty to complete a race competitively and it was just an inter-Merc PU battle (or even worse a Hammy v Rosberg year only). Still that would be an improvement over the last few years of one team, one driver dominance!

    1. Schadenfreude (silly iPad spellchecking), I.e. Joy in someone else’s pain. I do think it is best to simply appreciate and applaud excellence when you see it, I just wish it had been a little closer between anyone since 2010 (including the McLaren debacle of 2011 & 2012 of errors throwing away victories needlessly with silly pit lane snafu’s).

    2. how would that be an improvement? 2 inferior drivers battling it out when better drivers Alonso and Vettel having bad results only because of the PU. the last few years have been great, we saw a great driver and a great team at the top of their game – also they didn’t always have it their way, McLaren were maybe better then redbull in 10 and 12, but vettel hardly ever put a foot wrong getting the best out of his packaged, better then the other drivers on the grid – he consistently beat a high level driving field, one of the most competitive fields ever in f1 in the past few years.

      1. Agreed. I think the F1 media have pushed the narrative a bit too hard that Red Bull were always the team to beat over the past 4 years. There were significant portions of 2010 where either the McLaren or the Ferrari was faster, and in 2012 the McLaren was undeniably the fastest car. It’s easier to write off the poor execution of races by McLaren, and the massive talent that Vettel has if you just say “oh well the Red Bull was way faster.” If that were the case how do you explain Webber’s results over the same period? Oh right, they gave him some kind of B spec inferior car… *yawn*

        If Vettel does manage to challenge for the title this year given the uphill battle RBR faces it’ll be fun to see what story the media comes up with to explain away his talent.

        1. Not only that. People talk of Red Bull being the fastest car as if that was the result of random chance, an unfair advantage, and so they consider it a lesser win. If it was the fastest car, it’s because Red Bull -which includes Vettel- made it so. It’s not like cars were handed out at random at the beginning of the championship and Vettel lucked out.

          1. Vettel is in a class by himself in the context of technique and has a radiant mind

    3. I think some people make too much of a big deal of the fact that RBR might struggle & that Renault might have roostered it up… an unfortunate result of the way too long V8 era, IMO. I think fans do themselves a great injustice when they ignore the history of the sport… making absurd statements like F1 is ruined because the sound is ‘wrong’, or that 6 cylinders & lower redlines are somehow sacrilegious… & more to the point, that the championship will be a farce if Red Bull lose all year (McLaren had arguably the best car in ’12, absolutely made a mess of ’13 & somehow that championship wasn’t a farce… well, it kinda was because of latex tires & DRS… but not because big teams had bad years). I’m grateful I fell in love with F1 at a time when Brabham’s four banger Bimmer engines (based on high mileage production blocks!) were putting all kinds of hurt on more exotic turbo V6s & V8s. I enjoyed all the V12s & V10s too, & understood that occasionally (and sometimes repeatedly) these incredibly complex lumps have gremlins & go bang. These guys do in months what it would take regular car companies (with the aid of unrestricted testing) years to do, after all! I was annoyed development was frozen for much of the V8 era, but I know they did it to try & keep costs down. Whether or not it was worth it, well… that’s a whole ‘nother topic. I think it’s way too early to complain, & that knee jerk reactions aren’t prudent when we’re finally getting some innovation, & a chance to see something other than aerodynamics & silly tires being the deciding factor… & I’m so excited at the thought of these new grunty, oversteer inducing PUs I can hardly sit still… to hell with who wins! Looking forward to watching these guys wrestle this newest breed of F1 machine.

  3. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
    8th March 2014, 11:37

    Vettel wants Ketchup, to go with his hot bull?

    1. ba dow tssh

  4. If Vettel wins the champinship again I’ll chop my head off. I have nothing against Vettel or Red Bull, but I just couldn’t resist the irony.

    1. Mashiat (@)
      9th March 2014, 2:25

      Is it wrong for me want Vettel to win the championship a little bit more after your statement?

  5. I’m glad that Red Bull don’t have a car a second lap quicker than anyone else, but I’m not looking forward to a Red Bull that cannot even complete a race distance. I want to see Red Bull put up a competitive challenger, so that we can see how good Vettel is in a relatively level playing field

    1. @todfod: I don’t know why You didn’t pay attention the last 6 seasons, I know perfectly well how good Vettel is, but I don’t miss a relatively level playing field. Its not the core of F1, because the F1 sport is so much more than the competition between the drivers. Right now we can expect to see the output of a tight engineering competition, where testing indicates that Renault is loosing and RBR have further problems. Lets see how this contest unfolds – it will be exciting, but this season will primarily be that of a contest between the development departments, whereas the drivers ability will have far less importance.

      1. @palle
        F1 was a level playing field in the 1st half of 2012. Vettel was good, but he certainly didn’t look any better than Alonso or Hamilton. Maybe that’s why.

        1. @palle

          Exactly what @kingshark said.

          He didn’t look as good as Alonso or Hamilton in a level playing field… so I’m hoping to find out this season

          but I don’t miss a relatively level playing fieldIts not the core of F1,

          Shocking to hear you say that. Not having a level playing field is not at the core of sport.

          1. You can’t simplify F1 to be a contest between pilots and to have a goal of making a level field. Other sports are often Amish-like in their relations with technology, also in regards to nutrition.
            I do love the engineering competition of F1 and this leads to a not level playing field. If I want to watch motor sport in a level playing field, where it is only about the competition between the drivers, then I would watch a spec series. The core of F1 is exactly the fight between designers like Newey and Aldo Costa, secondary the fight between the drivers the teams hire to pilot their creations. Its not my fault that the media focus on the pilots:-)
            FIA has a goal of getting a tense competition between several pilots and/or teams over the entire season with a grand finale in the last race, but the technical development race is – from an engineering point – also most interesting. Maybe its because I’m an engineer myself that I particularly take an interest in that part of it.

        2. Constantine
          9th March 2014, 12:40


          First half of 2013 was a pretty level field between Lotus, Ferrari and RBR, and sometimes Mercedes, and he left to the summer pause with a 40 points advantage.

  6. I would not want to be in his situation. Remember his words towards the end of the season, telling his team to fully embrace the success they had as it could never happen again. They knew 2014 was hoing to be a difficult season.
    On the other side, I am happy to see such a good driver, not miles ahead for once, but ‘in the pack’. It will be interesting.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      8th March 2014, 13:03

      @spoutnik The team may not embrace success again, but Vettel will be always hired by the best teams. Can you Imagine Hamilton, Button, Alonso or Kimi without a contract? I can’t. There is a WDC or more on their names, so Red Bull have better catch up or let Vettel go sooner or later to the best team at the moment.
      And I strongly believe that, as we’ve seen in the past, a free-from-RB Vettel would immediately mean a broken contract for somebody else, to make room for him however it’s needed.

      1. @omarr-pepper
        The problem for Vettel is that he extended his contract until the end of 2015, Niki Lauda before he signed Hamilton said that Vettel’s contract is very strong with Red Bull, i think he should have waited the start of this season before extending his old contract that expires in 2014

        1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
          8th March 2014, 16:07

          @tifoso1989 but we don’t know the clauses of that contract, though much is rumored about the “performance clause” which could free Vettel before what we think. That would definitely give lots to say to his detractors (“he’s jumping out of the sinking ship”, “he’ lacks team spirit”) but it may well be a possible scenario.
          Lots of ifs, but just an opinion.

          1. @omarr-pepper
            I heard one time Helmut Marko talking about that performance clause but he didn’t give much details about it for obvious reasons

          2. I think all the top drivers and top teams have performance clauses in their contracts, going both ways. We know Alonso certainly does or his management wouldn’t have been in talks with other teams mid season last year.

  7. Everyone has a bad season. But, oh boy, is Red Bull’s looking like a terrible one.

  8. I fully wish RBR had a competitive car, but i’m nt seeing things with a bright future to them in 2014. It’s a shame. Every other year the biggest teams have a 0 year, it’s RBR time again since they dominated the last 4 years or so. By the mid season they could be more competitive but i’m sure 2015 they will come with full power again…

  9. red bull have won the last 8 titles. go away already

  10. Would you liken this to Ferrari in 2005?

    1. Lucas Wilson (@full-throttle-f1)
      8th March 2014, 12:50

      Not yet.

    2. More like Mclaren in 2004,mp4 19 remember.

    3. The Ferrari 2005 was not a bad car only that stupid tyre rule made it look like that

    4. @chingh didn’t Ferrari say that the F2005 was the best F1 car they had ever built? But with the tyres the way they were, we’ll never know.

  11. RBR will have to do more than catch up if they want to win this year. They’ll have to become THE team to beat by the last half or third of the season. Matching the top players this year will not be enough assuming they’ll start on their hind foot. And of course there’s everything to play for right now, so who knows, but it sure doesn’t feel like they are going to surpass everyone in performance in enough time this season.

    1. OmarR-Pepper (@)
      8th March 2014, 13:05

      @robbie let’s see how reliability works for all the others too. I mean, we aren’t even in Melbourne. I’m sure not only RB is in danger to get DNQs. Even the ones who shone in practices had their own glitches.

      1. Absolutely right, which is why I said there is still everything to play for. We don’t even know teams’ true reliability and fuel economy and how their cars deal with the tires etc etc. There is very much the possibility that once racing in anger there will be a lot more managing and monitoring than racing. A lot more dialing down just to finish. It is a bit too bad that RBR starts off needing others’ unreliability to stay in the game, but it is what it is and as we agree we don’t know entirely what it is. And it’s always all a moving target anyway. That’s why they run all the races before deciding a WDC/WCC.

      2. @omarr-pepper: You’re right. And if we look at the bookmakers odds, Vettel is still considered a serious contender with odds: 7/2. Only Hamilton has lower odds: 5/2. For the Melbourne GP however Vettels odds are 14 against Hamiltons 5/2.

  12. As I always said RBR 2014 = Ferrari 2005.

    I don’t want to speculate but many times the whole shows looks carefully manicured. Formula 1 is getting closer and closer to WWF (WWE) . I am now starting to see Alonso, Vettel, hamilton, Kimi et all as the WWE actors and noting more. The event is more about entertainment and less about racing. 5 years for Ferrari, 4 years for RBR , now 3 years for Mercedes and then depending upon the economics the next 2 years for someone else !!!!

    Somewhere down the line we started believing that racing is just entertainment and nothing more. I believe racing is much more than entertainment. Unfortunately it is turning out that racing is all about TV audience. The 3 hour racing slot competes with the slots of movies and soap operas. All that is being done is to make the 3 hour F1 slot a better one than the other competing TV programs. While I admit that I watch most of the F1 on TV (given that the event happens only once in my country), I believe it should not be an event tailored for TV !!!

    1. Well said. Ecclestone did remark on the massive loss of the TV audience. My only idea is that RBR approached testing from another perspective, testing how much strain all systems could handle until utter failure

    2. @tmax Rules again so you can change the picture and give the trophy to who will pay the most. I know it but people get offended with the WWE analogy.

  13. I don’t think it is fair for Redbull to have a bad season because of the engine supplier. Engines are something the fia should have worked harder on to have parity. they have been on relative parity over the past decade, but this year we will see good drivers in good cars performing badly because of the engine supplier which hasn’t happened in ages.

    1. I don’t think it is fair for Redbull to have a bad season because of the engine supplier

      Is it fair that they have dominated the last 4 seasons because of the engine supplier, this is F1 no one has forced Red Bull to stick with Renault, they have made that decision and they should live with it

      1. @tifoso1989 i don’t think RBR won the last 4 WDC and WCC because of the engine performance. All the V8 were pretty much providing equal performance and reliability in the last 5 years. if at all anything it was the renault which was less reliable due to the alternator issues et all.

        1. @tmax

          i don’t think RBR won the last 4 WDC and WCC because of the engine performance. All the V8 were pretty much providing equal performance and reliability in the last 5 years

          I agree with you what you have said, the engine performance(horsepower) has never been a factor in RBR success but without the V8 Renault RBR would have never dominated in such way, it seems controversial but let me explain:
          The structure of a small but not very powerful V8 emphasizes Newey’s philosophy of extreme packaging which gave RBR an advantage over their rivals
          The clever engine mapping techniques that were implemented under reliability issues which were the main factor behind the EBD, and later with the Coanda exhausts
          I’m not saying that RBR success was only due to the engines, the RBR cars were masterpieces aerodynamically and mechanically but the V8 Renault was a deciding factor in my opinion because it handed them the advantage of applying concepts that their rivals couldn’t apply

          1. @tifoso1989
            I doubt that the Renault engine was physically smaller. But I heard somewhere that it was easier to cool and that was why Newey liked it.
            Regarding the EBD, that system eventually found it’s way to all the engine manufactures. So I don’t think the Renault engine was in any way special in that regard. Red Bull just got a significant headstart on it since they came up with it. Or rather, reintroduced it.

    2. Did FIA give a delayed memo to Renault, regarding the new engines? I don’t think so.

      Also engine is a main component of a car and if it is normalized by FIA, we might as well use GP2 cars for F1 too.

  14. It seems that the guys at Red Bull were hanging out their balls in the pool !!!! To be honest i don’t want Red Bull to catch up at all this year : The car seems fast at least in the little running flashes that it has made, it seems that they have been let down by the Renault PU, so catching up means that they will use their usual standards of problem solving : enforcing rule change, special permission from the FIA…..

    1. Constantine
      8th March 2014, 16:29


      their usual standards of problem solving : enforcing rule change, special permission from the FIA…..

      You known that the team known for that is Ferrari, right?

      Unless you are implying the tyres were changed last year because Red Bull wanted it, to which I should remind you that the tyres exploded in Silverstone, and all teams agreed to change them. I’m pretty sure Alonso didn’t enjoy almost being hitted by a piece of tyre of Perez’s car.

      Just because you like Ferrari it doesn’t mean we have to change history to make other teams look bad.

      1. @constantine: +1

    2. Particularly hilarious coming from a Ferrari fan..

      1. Ferrari are the only ones allowed to use those tactics! It’s their heritage or something…

        1. @mazdachris
          It bothers me when i see another team using those tactics !!

          1. Think back to the tyre rule change mid 2003. Which team instigated that again?

            Actually it’s Ferrari 2003 that this reminds me of, however it was only in the races that Ferrari’s problems became apparent. At least RBR has some idea of what they need to do before the racing starts, and have had two weeks to try and rectify them.

            My two cents worth: the Mercedes powered teams may take points off each other in the first flyaway rounds. RBR and Renault especially use these rounds as effective test sessions, with both Vettel and Ricciardo running different programs to maximise data collection. Come Europe they will be on the pace, and not too far behind the championship lead by that time. Vettel does his annoyingly standard domination of the back half of the season to win again. I could be wrong but I have a funny feeling that’s how it will iron out.

            Never underestimate Newey!

  15. I’m concerned that the FIA’s desire is to have total parity in car performance which can only make the sport less exciting and much more dangerous. That’s what happened to NASCAR. They run in tight packs and you just wait for the big one which takes out 25% of the field.

  16. He should name his car sluggish debby this year

    1. Or Breakdown Beth

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