Valencia: Formula One champion
Sebastian Vettel believes he can repeat his record-breaking
performance of last season -- but Red Bull teammate Mark
Webber may be the one who stands in his way.
Vettel became the sport`s youngest champion at 23 when he
triumphed in the last Grand Prix of the season, in Abu Dhabi
in November, to take the title in dramatic fashion.
Australian Webber, 34, had led the Formula One standings
for much of the season, finished eighth, and third overall.
For 2011, the British-based, Austrian-funded Red Bull has
retained the pair, who tested the new RB7 car at the Ricardo
Tormo race track near Valencia on Tuesday along with several
"We are very lucky in that we have possibly the strongest
line-up on the grid," team principal Christian Horner said
He said last season -- in which Red Bull also took the
constructors` title -- has brought the team "confidence but
"The team goes into this season very motivated and very
committed... We achieved some remarkable things last year and
that is our target again".
Vettel said the 2010 season was "a very proud memory. But
now it`s 2011, and there`s another job to do, so we move to
the next challenge, which is trying to do the same thing
"But we have to develop from how good we were last year.
We need to try to move forward again."
Vettel had locked horns with Webber last season as both
battled for the title.
Webber - who would have become the first Australian since
Alan Jones in 1980 to be crowned world champion - was asked
Tuesday whether he would now be the number two driver at Red
"Nothing has changed, because I have a great opportunity
with a great team to go and get some very good results," he
"Obviously, last year there were some tough times for the
team because we both, or all of us, wanted to keep achieving
more, and it was a new situation to go for the championship
with two drivers in the same team.
"This is unusual. It doesn`t happen very often in Formula
One. So let`s hope we can do it again, and maybe this year we
have a different result, I hope."
Horner said the team "supports both drivers with
equality, we give both drivers the best chance that we
possibly can," adding that Webber is in "great physical shape
and he will be very very strong this year".
Vettel also said he had no thoughts of beating fellow
German Michael Schumacher`s world record seven drivers` titles
-- at least for now.
"It will surely take some time," he said. "I think what
Michael did was very special and you don`t set your target to
win eight times to be the best guy in history so far."
Schumacher himself was on the Valencia circuit Tuesday
hoping for a better season than the last one, when he failed
to reach the podium in 19 Formula One races in 2010 and was
completely outshone by Mercedes teammate Nico Rosberg, who
finished the campaign 70 points ahead of the 42-year-old
But Mercedes team boss Norbert Haug said the team`s "more
sophisticated" new MGP W02 Silver Arrow, unveiled on Tuesday,
should help him improve.
"Michael needs to adapt again, it`s a different Formula
One that he was used to before," Haug said.
"He will have a better year when our car is competitive
and I think we have every reason to believe that we have a car
that will a big step forward compared to last year`s."
In addition to Mercedes and Red Bull, Williams and Toro
Rosso also showed off their new vehicles Tuesday. That follows
Ferrari`s launch last Friday, and that of Lotus Renault, Team
Lotus and Sauber on Monday.
The new season -- which begins in Bahrain on March 13 --
brings the various regulation changes, most notably the
introduction of an adjustable rear wing, and the removal of
devices such as F-ducts and double diffusers.
This season will also see the return of KERS, a device
that stores energy created by braking, which can be used to
boost power at certain points during the race.
"With KERS, the question is how good and how efficient
the system is," said Vettel. "Obviously, the teams that had it
in 2009 have a little bit of an advantage, but we will just
have to work hard on that."
Another important change for 2011 is the introduction of
tyres from the Italian company Pirelli, which takes over from
Bridgestone as the sport`s sole tyre supplier.