World champion Sebastian Vettel insists he and Red Bull will keep their eyes on the ball in 2012, despite the rocky road of the opening half of the season.
The 25-year-old German began the season bidding to join very illustrious company, with Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher the only other drivers in modern F1 history to have won three drivers’ titles on the trot. But with half of this year’s grands prix now in the past, Vettel is 42 points adrift in the 2012 chase and just third, with his team Red Bull seemingly always in the middle of one sort of controversy or another.
Whether it’s the latest technical saga, or a post-race penalty described by Dr Helmut Marko as the “death penalty for stealing chickens”, it has not been plain sailing for Red Bull. Some even smell a conspiracy.
“We had a good car with a double diffuser, but it was banned,” Vettel told Germany’s Sport Bild. “We had a good car with a blown diffuser — it was also banned. Why?” he wondered. “I have no idea.”
Add to that the separate ‘hole in the floor’, wheel hub, engine mapping and ride-height adjuster sagas of 2012, and Vettel might be forgiven for wondering if Red Bull’s focus could be at risk of succumbing.
Not so: “All the trouble lately is not pushing us apart,” said Vettel, when asked about Red Bull’s unity. “Actually it binds us together even more.”
But for now, he is just happy to be staring into a long break.
“It’s a long season,” said the German. “If you compare it to a lot of other sports, it’s one of the longest seasons there are. I think it’s important, even if sometimes you would like to carry on, I think you need the break, so it’s important to make use of it.”