(Inautonews.com/GMM) Red Bull insists it is wary of other F1 teams after Sunday’s Turkish grand prix but those competitors are not quite as bullish.
“Ferrari are back,” team boss Christian Horner is quoted as saying by Tuttosport at Istanbul Park, where Fernando Alonso finally achieved the Italian squad’s first podium of 2011.
Runaway championship leader Sebastian Vettel and his teammate Mark Webber, however, had only seemed to reinforce Red Bull’s superiority, with McLaren and Mercedes struggling in Turkey.
“McLaren were very strong in the last two races even if today we were better,” continued Horner.
“And we don’t forget that Mercedes looked very quick in qualifying. I think there’s still a long way to go in this championship and it’s important to capitalise on days like these.”
Some pundits believe the energy drink-owned team is playing down its position of clear dominance, such as Niki Lauda who thinks Vettel is “definitely” and “without question” on course for his second drivers’ crown.
“He needs now to proceed in a clever way at races that he does not necessarily have to win,” the Austrian told ORF, referring to Vettel’s 34 point lead.
But Lauda said the 2011 contest is still interesting.
“McLaren with Hamilton won the last race but today they were 40 seconds behind, while Ferrari was nowhere and here they’re the third party.
“But it’s always about number two or three, while Red Bull and Vettel first and foremost is always in front,” he added.
McLaren team boss Martin Whitmarsh said in Turkey that a problem at the Woking factory had delayed some scheduled new components.
“For Barcelona we have to make sure we get back in the mix because, at the moment, you have to say we are behind the Ferraris and battling with the Mercedes,” said Jenson Button.
Nico Rosberg had eyed a real podium challenge after starting third but after the race acknowledged that the W02 car is not there yet.
“Today proved that we are stronger in qualifying but in the race still missing a lot to Red Bull,” he told Auto Motor und Sport.
Ferrari, meanwhile, is also expecting to improve again, with Stefano Domenicali hoping the upgrades will be complete for a victory challenge in Canada next month.
“This third place should not delude us; the road ahead is still long,” the team boss is quoted by Tuttosport. “At least we have shown that our path of development is now the right one.”
For the moment, on top of the F1 world is Vettel, with even Webber in the sister RB7 forced to acknowledge that.
“Yeah, Seb is on top of his game,” said the Australian after Sunday’s race.