Date: 23rd April 2012 at 8:42am
Written by:

After China many had begun to question Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull.

The back-to-back 2010 and 2011 Formula One World Champion had not been in contention with the other front runners and in China the gap appeared to be widening.

But a week is a long time in Formula One and with what appears to be a new design around the back end, with only a new vent system visible to the naked eye Red Bull’s fortunes appeared to dramatically change for the better this weekend.

From Free Practice 1 the warning signs to everyone else was there. Vettel second quickest 0.305 seconds behind Lewis Hamilton. FP2 Webber and Vettel were second and third quickest, with Vettel 0.709 behind Rosberg.

FP3, Vettel was once again second quickest 0.147 behind Vettel.

So despite an early scare in Q1, it wasn’t a surprise to once again see that wagging finger with Vettel taking pole from Hamilton by 0.098 of a second.

Reflecting on his qualifying session he told formula1.com: ?It feels great and I completely owe this one to the team. It wasn?t an easy start to the season for us and there was a lot of expectation, but I think more than anything it was about what we expected from ourselves and we didn?t match it. We?ve been working extremely hard on the car, trimming here and there and finding the right way to go forward. The boys haven?t had much sleep the last few races – it was a tough race last weekend in China and now here, so it?s good to put the car on pole for them. The car felt better all weekend, it wasn?t the smoothest qualifying session, I nearly went out in Q1, but it?s good to get the pole.?

It proved to be the moment that Vettel won the race as he got away from the grid well enough and lead the race from start to finish, apart from when the pit-stop sequences were sorting themselves out.

Perhaps if Lewis Hamilton hadn’t had his issues with his two pit-stops, or if Lotus had released Kimi from behind his-team mate sooner, then Vettel might have come under some kind of pressure, but in reality, it was a faultless drive from the Red Bull and one that sends a warning shot to their rivals who may have begun to write them off.

After the race Vettel said: ‘It was an incredible race, extremely tough. A good start was crucial and I was able to pull away from the pack, which was a big advantage as we always had to go on scrubbed tyres due to the fact we had used almost all of them in qualifying yesterday. Kimi was very quick and so was Grosjean. But everything seemed to work well today; strategy was good and I can only say a big thank you to the whole team and the guys in the garage. I said it yesterday, but they have done an incredible job over the last four races, the amount of work they had to do was so much. We asked them for this and for that, for tweaks here and there and they came with new parts, then old parts, then news parts again, back and forth and spent a lot of time in the garage trying to get the car to our liking. But we got there. I was very happy with qualifying today and all throughout the race. Kimi was fast today and it was close, but I am extremely happy and very proud of the team.’

One of the nice things about this seasons early season championship is how the competition is so close, for the first time since 2003 we have had four different winners from the first four races, all of which coming from four different teams with Jenson Button winning for McLaren, Fernando Alonso winning for Ferrari, Nico Rosberg winning for Mercedes and now Vettel returning to the top of the podium for Red Bull.