Worryingly for rivals Christian Horner says that Red Bull hadn’t expected Sebastian Vettel’s victory at Spa on Sunday to be so straightforward.
Despite that he insists that it’s still way too early to get too complacent about the German’s championship hopes.
“It’s still a long, long way to go,” said the team boss. “It’s great to start the second half of the season with a victory. But as we can see the form moves around from race to race and circuit to circuit, and there’s still an awfully long way to go. It was a really dominant win this afternoon, which was unexpected really.
“This race and the next one we were expecting to be our Achilles heel, as these tracks haven’t been historically very strong circuits for us, but to have the performance that we did today was very satisfying with Sebastian.”
Horner cautions that fortune could still conspire against Vettel.
“I think his confidence is obviously high, he’s driving extremely well. He’s put in a faultless performance this afternoon. But things can change very quickly, and we saw that last year. He managed to turn it around on Fernando. There’s still a long way to go, a lot of racing still to be done, and our approach is just to take it a step at a time and get the best out of each weekend that we possibly can.
“Nothing’s impossible. Twenty five points for a victory, a couple of DNFs and somebody puts a run together, you can be on the back foot again. We’ve put ourselves into a strong position. Our focus is very much on we’ll move from Spa now to Monza, and from there on to the international races. We’ll just take it one step at a time.”
Meanwhile Horner said that Vettel had got it just right when he made his crucial first lap pass on Lewis Hamilton in Belgium.
“I think Sebastian had worked it out in his own mind. He didn’t have a great start, but he went to the left hand side and focussed very much on getting a clean exit out of La Source, and a good run through Eau Rouge.
“I think with the gearing that we ran if he hadn’t made the pass at that point it would have been very difficult for him to overtake Lewis, so he used his KERS where he needed to, and timed it right, and grabbed his one opportunity. As soon as he’d made his pass around the outside he then just got his head down and got on with it.
“He had tremendous pace in the early laps, and of course what we don’t know with the modern way of racing in F1 is how high or severe the degradation is going to be. You can burn up your tyres quite quickly and then see heavy degradation in later laps.
“It was a matter then of making sure that we eked out a gap, but also made sure that we had the range with the tyres as well. So it’s that fine balance between how hard you push or how much do you protect your tyres to get the range. I think we just about managed to get the balance right with that.”