Upbeat Sebastian Vettel claims Red Bull are 'making bigger steps' than Mercedes
World Champion impressed with progress since pre-season testing
By William Esler. Last Updated: 30/03/14 1:47pm
Sebastian Vettel claims Red Bull are "making bigger steps" than Mercedes after he finished third at the Malaysia Grand Prix.
Having struggled throughout pre-season testing with reliability and then being forced to retire from the opening race of the season two weeks ago with engine problems, the World Champion got his 2014 back on track with a podium finish at Sepang.
Vettel still trailed both Mercedes home though - 24.5 seconds behind race winner Lewis Hamilton - but the German feels Red Bull are out-developing the Silver Arrows.
"It has been very positive what we have done since then [testing], a massive job from the team, massive job from Renault - both pushing really flat out - but there is still a long way to go," Vettel told Sky Sports F1.
"We can see that the others, especially these guys [Mercedes] are quite a bit ahead, a little bit quicker than us and always have enough in hand to respond, so it is up to us how quick we manage to come back, but for sure it is not easy when you start on the back foot. At the moment, though, it looks like we are making bigger steps than them and let's hope it continues like that.
"One and a half months ago we were far away from doing ten laps in a row and today we finished the race on one of the most critical races of the year in terms of temperature and stress to the car, so we are very happy on that front.
"These guys [Mercedes] have done a very good job and they completely deserve to be where they are now. We are a strong team and you can see that by the pace and results we had at the first two grands prix, so from my point of view it is a question of time."
Sebastian Vettel thinks Red Bull are 'making bigger steps' than Mercedes
Team Principal Christian Horner was equally impressed with the progress that Red Bull have made, but was disappointed that Daniel Ricciardo retired from the race after a mistake at a pitstop was followed by a frontwing failure and a stop-go penalty.
"We could have got fourth with Daniel so that was disappointing, but I think Seb got everything out of the car he possibly could," he told Sky F1's Ted Kravitz.
"We know what we have to do and we have a lot of hard work to do, but to get third is beyond our expectations - where we were a month ago we couldn't do three laps, so to get a podium is really something and gives us something to build on."
Ricciardo's woes will be carried over to the Bahrain GP next week. Having been released without all four wheels properly secured, he was in breach of Article 23.12 of the Sporting Regulations and in addition to his ten-second stop/go penalty, he will also take a ten-place grid penalty in the desert.