Jerez: Sebastian Vettel set out to disappoint Formula One supremo Bernie Ecclestone on Monday as Red Bull offered a tantalising glimpse of the car they hope will take them and their champion to a third successive title.
Ecclestone, who is very close to the German but always wants a battle down to the wire to maximise television viewing figures, said recently he hoped the 24-year-old would not dominate the season like he did in 2011.
"I hope he`s wrong obviously," said Vettel, who won his second crown with four grands prix to spare and ended the year with 11 wins in 19 races, in a Q+A released by the team before testing starts on Tuesday.
The German expected a bigger, tighter fight this time and was as confident as he could be before the car had completed a lap.
"At the beginning of last year we didn`t really expect whatever happened last year, so I think it`s the same thing again. It would be wrong to go into this season and expect 2011 to happen again, as in getting into the lead early and having a very big gap to other competitors in the championship.
"So I think it will be very, very tight this year and everything else would be a surprise to be honest."
The car shown in a brief clip on the team`s website (www.redbullracing.com) had the stepped nose adopted so far by all teams except McLaren in response to new aerodynamic regulations.
"We`ve kept more or less the same chassis shape, but had to drop the nose just in front of the front bulkhead, which, in common with many other teams, has led us to...a slightly ugly looking nose," said designer Adrian Newey.
"We`ve tried to style it as best we can, but it`s not a feature you would choose to put in were it not for the regulation."
Newey, who has designed championship-winning cars for three separate teams, said last year`s chassis was designed around an exhaust position that is no longer allowed.
"Whether that will affect us more than other people is difficult to know of course," he said. "It may be that we`ve lost more than other people through that. Only time will tell, it will be good to get out to do some testing and to see where we get to.
"The (2011) exhaust allowed us to run a high rear ride height, it`s much more difficult without that to sustain a high rear height so we have to go back down and have to redevelop the car around that lower ride height," he added.
Team principal Christian Horner said it would be hard for Vettel to do better than last year, when he was absent from the podium in only two races, but would not rule it out.
"As a driver, he`s still evolving and he`s still getting stronger. We saw that in 2011 and I think we`re only going to see that again in 2012," he warned.
"You forget he`s only 24 years of age and it`s such a young age to have achieved so much. I think that, as he gains experience and as he gains knowledge and matures, he`s getting stronger and stronger."
Horner felt Australian Mark Webber, who took just one victory last season after challenging for the title the previous year, would also be back as a contender.
"I think the best tonic for Mark was to finish the year strongly, to win that final race and to go into the season having won the Brazilian GP. I think he`s had a very strong off-season," he said.
"He`s recharged his batteries, he`s trained hard and he`s come back looking fitter and leaner than ever. He`s in strong shape for the season ahead."
First Published: Monday, February 06, 2012, 22:31