Vettel cautious over form
German still thinks McLaren have an edge on outright pace
Last Updated: September 25, 2012 5:11pm
Sebastian Vettel is remaining wary about predicting how Red Bull will fare over the remainder of the season despite returning to race-winning ways in Singapore.
After a difficult run of races since challenging for victory in Germany in mid-July, Red Bull were back in the hunt alongside recent pacesetters McLaren from the off in Friday practice at Marina Bay, with Vettel appearing favourite for pole on Saturday until he suddenly dropped off the pace in Q3.
The World Champion, however, resumed his early-weekend form in Sunday's race and ran a close second to Lewis Hamilton before the McLaren driver dropped out of the race with gearbox trouble, gifting the German his first victory since Bahrain in April.
But despite returning to the top step of the podium to re-establish himself as Fernando Alonso's closest pursuer in the Drivers' Championship, Vettel is reserving judgement on the RB8's likely competitiveness at Suzuka and beyond given the unusual nature of Marina Bay.
"I think on a circuit like this you can manipulate [the lap time] a little bit more," he told Sky Sports F1.
"There are a lot of corners and maybe some where you can do a little bit better. Less straights, I think that helps as always. So the next couple of races we see how we get on.
"I'm looking forward to Japan, it's a great circuit and a great place to be. We have quite a good record there so I'm looking forward to it but I think at this stage it's a bit difficult to predict what's going to happen."
Vettel's 23rd career victory, and second in a row at Marina Bay, cut his points deficit to Alonso to little more than a race victory - 29 points - and the German acknowledged: "Yeah, it looks better than before. I'm not a genius but I can work that out for myself that it looks 10 points better than before.
"Fernando is the target obviously in the next couple of races but we've seen how quickly things can change."
Elaborating on his thoughts in the post-race press conference, Vettel suggested that McLaren still had an overall edge on Red Bull while Ferrari were setting a high standard for reliability that his team had to try and match.
"I think we have to improve. I think there is still a little bit that we need to gain," the German admitted.
"I think that at the moment McLaren is the fastest car and the Ferrari is a little bit of an all rounder. It's always quick and always there so we need to make sure that we see the chequered flag.
"Reliability will be important but it's a fun track [Suzuka] so I'm looking forward to it. The Sauber will be quick, unlike this weekend and we will go from there."