When looking ahead to next weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, neither Red Bull driver suggested that they were confident the new RB8 would be the class of the field, just as its predecessor was 12 months ago in Melbourne.
However, both Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber are clearly looking forward to the opening race in Australia, despite the fact that pre-season testing suggests things might be a little closer amongst the top teams in 2012.
“Testing has been busy over the last few weeks and I think we have made a decent step with the car,” said Vettel, but that was all the world champion was prepared to read into the RB8’s competitiveness.
“You never really know where you are until we get to Melbourne and even then you don't really see what everyone has got until qualifying – so I'm looking forward to getting started.
Australia and Malaysia are different circuits so they are hard to compare,” he added, looking ahead to the second race as well, which takes place the following weekend. “Australia is not a permanent race track, it's quite bumpy and it's tough for the car. Malaysia is smoother, as it's a permanent race track with fast corners, but both are good tracks and Australia is one of the best places we go to. It's good to know we're going racing again, I can't wait to get on the flight and get down under.”
For Webber, of course, the opening race of the season is also his home race.
“This will be my eleventh Australian GP and I can't wait to get started,” he said. “The Grand Prix is one of the best sporting events that we have in Australia.
“It's great to see the support and Australian flags in the crowd. I've incorporated more of an Australian theme into my helmet, which I'll be using for the whole year, not just in Australia.
“It's been an extremely intense few months for the whole team and it's incredible when you count up how many sleep-deprived hours have gone in to preparing the car as best we can – from pit stops to reliability to driver comfort in the cockpit – you name it, we've always been looking to improve.
“There's always a huge amount of interest in the first race; this year is no different and there's no better place to have it than Australia.”