Sebastian Vettel has warned his critics to write off at their peril his chances of him becoming only the second driver in Formula One history to win five successive world titles.
Following a wretched pre-season of testing in which the new Red Bull often ground to a halt, the odds are on Vettel failing to even cross the line in Sunday’s season-opening Australian Grand Prix, never mind stretching his winning streak to ten races after taking the chequered flag in the final nine of last year.
The Milton Keynes-based team encountered a raft of problems with the RB10 that has placed them firmly on the back foot going into the race around Melbourne’s Albert Park. But the car appears quick enough and, if Red Bull can get on top of their reliability issues, then Vettel could again be in the hunt for another crown.
Dismissing claims that a fifth consecutive championship was not on the cards, Vettel said: “That’s unfair to say. Our season testing, our preparation hasn’t been ideal, and we’re not in the best position for this race. But it’s a different story for the championship because there is a long way to go.
“Two years ago I remember being on the grid on pole and Fernando Alonso was 1.5 seconds behind me, but he came very close to beating me for the title at the very last race. So it shows anything can happen. That’s why this race is important as any other, and there are a lot of races to go.
“Of course, we know we’re not in the best shape yet and there are a lot of things we need to solve, but unfortunately you can’t solve them all overnight. We’d love to, but we can’t. We have to go step by step, be as precise as we can,” the German concluded.