Christian Horner has praised both the Red Bull team and Sebastian Vettel for their brilliant start to the season in Australia, which saw the World Champion take a dominant victory.
The team had opted to run without KERS, but any concerns about the start were forgotten when Vettel stayed safely ahead and the totally controlled the race.
“As a team you learn, you learn from the victories, you learn from the mistakes,” said Horner. “As a group we are still very young, we’re still progressing, and we are still moving forward. I feel that we are better equipped than last year to deal with the championship, and the undoubted pressures that will come.
“I don’t think we can expect another 18 races like we saw today. You know that Ferrari will come back strong, you know McLaren won’t sit still, they made a big step coming here this weekend. We’ve got some good stuff in the pipeline, and the way the team is working is fantastic.
“We came here confident that we had had a good winter, that we had done our homework and our preparation, and we felt that we arrived here in better shape than any previous season but in terms of our competitiveness. We thought we were close to Ferrari, but just ahead or just behind, we weren’t really sure. So yesterday was quite a surprise to ourselves, the pace difference, particularly as we had elected on Friday not to run the KERS system.”
He remains confident that RBR can deal with the McLaren challenge: “They’ve made massive steps, they are a great team and they always have a strong development during a season. We outdeveloped them last year, we did it the year before, and we will be determined to try and do it again this year.”
Regarding Vettel’s faultless performance, Horner said: “I think his drive today was a very, very controlled drive, and I think that he showed huge maturity in the way that he controlled his pace, in the way that he dictated from the front with the communication he gave to the engineers. And he has now won three races in a row, bookended the 2010 and 2011 seasons, and obviously his confidence is very, very high.
“There were no tears today, but he said to me during the winter, because he’s got an obsession about the trophies, there’s apparently a kangaroo on the trophy here that he really liked the look of. He was determined to come here and take that trophy home, which is exactly what he has done.”
The team’s biggest concern was the performance of Mark Webber, who came away with a humble fifth place. Webber was fast on Friday, but then lost performance on Saturday and Sunday. Horner said there was no obvious problem with the car.
“We could not see it on an inspection last night. We found some front wing damage that had affected him, but to what amount, it was difficult to quantify. And obviously until we get the car back [from parc ferme], we need to see. Usually they have been pretty closely matched, and that has been the biggest that we have seen between the two of them that I can certainly think of.
“So we need to get the car back, look at the data, and understand if anything is damaged, how it has affected the car, and make sure that they’re both back to business as usual in Malaysia.”
Mark stopped right after the flag because he had used more fuel than expected: “With Mark we stopped the car just as a precaution. Because he pushed very hard we were marginal on fuel. We just wanted to make sure we had enough fuel in the car for the FIA to take their sample.”