Triumphant Mark Webber was in a league of his own in Sunday’s Spanish Grand Prix, his Red Bull team-mate German Sebastian Vettel said after finishing third behind him in the 66-laps race.
Vettel, 22, who struggled home in a car with failing brakes, admitted he could not touch the 33-year-old Australian for pace or precision as Webber laid down his marker in this year’s scrap for the drivers’ championship.
“A lot of things went wrong today,” said Vettel. “The start was ok, but there was no chance to get past Mark and it was not worth taking the risk. It was quite slippery where he was so I didn’t want to go around the outside.
“I was not quick enough. I struggled with the balance. Mark was in his own league today – out there on his own.”
As the champagne flowed after the race amid predictions of a Red Bull charge on the championship, Webber was quick to keep his feet on the ground.
He said that despite being encouraged by the team’s speed and good results – even after suffering with reliability problems – he was not convinced that they could repeat their domination at other circuits.
Webber said: “It’s special – I’m absolutely wrapped, but it’s still very early doors. We know there are some very competitive cars at the front, in particular Red Bull, Ferrari, McLaren, and with some pretty decent drivers as well.
“And there’s a long, long way to go. So we’re waiting to see how cars perform at different venues. These cars are pretty sensitive at different tracks. And there’s a lot of things to see how it all shakes out over the next few months.
“You need to have a quick car and one that is always there for you.
“All in all, it was a sensational weekend. We had a faultless Grand Prix.”
Webber took pole, clocked the fastest lap and won the race – the perfect Formula One hat-trick, but his success – and Vettel’s continuing reliability misfortunes – left the German not knowing whether to laugh or to cry.
Vettel said: “I don’t know how to feel, third is not a bad position, but I think we had a quite bad race today with quite a lot of things happening. It’s good to take some points.”