Vettel: Red Bull Not Melbourne Favourites

Vettel hasn't had much driving time this winter (Mark Thompson/Getty Images)

Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel says that Red Bull Racing will enter the 2014 Australian Grand Prix opener “not the favourites” following a rough winter testing period, as the performance order remains a mystery.

Coming off the back of a fourth consecutive world title in which he romped to the 2013 crown with 13 victories in the all-conquering Red Bull squad’s RB9, Vettel and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo endured a somewhat forgetable pre-season prior to the new campaign.

Mechanical troubles throughout the trips to Jerez and Bahrain cut short most of the team’s testing with the RB10, leaving Vettel and engine suppliers Renault playing catch-up with their rivals as the world champion admits that Red Bull should not enter as favourites despite their 2013 success.

“It’s great to be starting the season next week”, said Vettel, who has previously won this race just the once – back in the season-opening race of 2011.

“We didn’t do as much running as we would have liked in testing this year, so we have work to do in Melbourne, but it will be good to get to the first race.

“It’s hard to know where we are; it’s fair to say that we’re not the favourites to win and we have to catch up with others that have completed more mileage, but we’ll do our best with the great people that we have working for the team.We have achieved a lot together and I know everyone is working flat out as normal.”

Turning his attentions to this weekend’s curtain raiser at Albert Park, the German awaits a typically entertaining visit to the popular Australian venue and expects more of the same at a track he enjoys.

He added: “It’s a good event to start the season and there’s always a great atmosphere. We often have unpredictable weather in Melbourne and on Sunday we have a later race start than at other events. Looking to the track, Turn 12 is important and fast and I like the start into the Jones chicane, where the track is very narrow.

“Formula One racing is something that I love and I can’t wait to get going.”