x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Vettel confident he can prove the doubters wrong

The Red Bull-Renault driver bids for a change of fortunes at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix.

Sebastian Vettel got his Red Bull-Renault into good positions in both races this year before reliability problems cost him.
Sebastian Vettel got his Red Bull-Renault into good positions in both races this year before reliability problems cost him.

Sebastian Vettel has shrugged off the reliability troubles which have denied him potential race wins so far this season as "not a big deal" as the Red Bull-Renault driver bids for a change of fortunes at this weekend's Malaysian Grand Prix. The 22-year-old German driver started on pole at the season-opener in Bahrain last month before a spark plug problem caused a loss of power, which eventually saw him finish fourth.

Vettel again secured pole in Melbourne last week but this time an electrical fault saw him slide into the gravel and out of the race after 26 laps. While the Red Bulls are considered the fastest cars on the grid, their reliability issues have brought into question whether they can truly challenge for the constructors' title this season, with the Formula One legend, Niki Lauda, recently writing them off.

However, Vettel is keen to put past problems behind him and is confident of proving the doubters wrong. "I don't know what he said but if he said that then we have to prove him wrong," he said of Lauda's comments. "We have a lot of positives we can take from the first two races. We had a very strong car in qualifying [in Australia] but in the race, for various reasons, we did not finish. "At the time it is very frustrating. I think we can see that the whole team was down, but coming here we can see we are all happy again and we look forward to this race."

History and statistics are not on Vettel's side, however. Only once in the last 20 years has a driver who did not win either of the opening two races of the season gone on to be the world champion. That came in 2003 through Vettel's compatriot, Michael Schumacher, who won four of the next five races after going winless in his Ferrari in the first three races. But, despite the problems that left him 25 points behind the championship leader, Fernando Alonso, Vettel is staying upbeat.

"What happened in Bahrain and Melbourne happened, but it is history and we cannot change it now," he added. "For sure it is not good and if you want to fight for the championship it is better not having these kind of things, but on the other hand we are only two races into the season and there are so many left, so it is not a big deal." Vettel failed to score in the first two races last year, but bounced back to be second in the title race.

His teammate, Mark Webber, also endured a race to forget last weekend as he crossed the line ninth after starting from second, but the 33-year-old driver believes it is too early to be predicting how Red Bull will do over the course of the season. "The championship is not over this weekend," he said. "It finis-hes in November so there is a long way to go. Nobody is trying harder than us. "We are a sensational team, we really are.

"Every position is virtually unchanged from the years before, from the successful year we had and the hard years we had. "We have not executed the first two races exactly as we would like but, thank God, there are 17 to go and we will look to capitalise in those." * PA Sport