Defending Formula One world champion Sebastian Vettel has revealed he is enjoying the attention that both he and Red Bull are receiving.
Having won three consecutive world championships, Vettel and Red Bull are regarded by many as having a strong chance of making it four-in-a-row in 2013. However, despite admitting to the official Formula One website that he enjoyed the ‘favorite’ tag, he was quick to tell his rivals to wait until Melbourne before coming to a conclusion about his pace.
“Ah, I thank everybody for their high opinions. Let’s hope they are right!
“To be honest I had very little time to look at how others are doing, so I am impressed by how much we’ve been under scrutiny from others. I think Melbourne will show the trend, but I doubt that we will be able to establish any real pecking order based on one or two races.”
Vettel did not gauge Red Bull’s progress compared to that of their rivals, believing that this would not be clear for a while, but he does believe that the midfield has cut the gap to the front runners.
“Last year we also had to learn that it takes much longer these days to know who is hot and who is not.
“I also believe is that the midfield is closing the gap even further to the top. What does that mean? That the usual suspects will have to work harder – and for the fans that we will again see an exciting season!”
Vettel will drive his RB9 for the final time before the Australian Grand Prix tomorrow. The German driver has a reputation for naming his cars, with previous incarnations christened “Luscious Liz”, “Kinky Kylie”, “Kate” and “Kate’s dirty sister”. He did concede that he is yet to name the RB9.
“No, we will sit down in the week before Melbourne to discuss how ‘she’ should be called.”
On Monday, the Formula 1 schedule finally allowed teams to be in Europe before heading to Abu Dhabi for this weekend’s season finale.
And as such, that provided a window for now four-time World Champion Lewis Hamilton to return to the Mercedes AMG Petronas factories in Brackley and Brixworth to be celebrated for taking the driver’s title, as Hamilton an Valtteri Bottas delivered Mercedes its fourth straight constructor’s title.
Hamilton was at Brixworth, the home of Mercedes-AMG High Performance Powertrains (HPP) and its highly successful Mercedes-Benz Power Units first before heading to Brackley, where he was welcomed with a “guard of honor” as the entire team came out to greet him.
The champion was overwhelmed at the response and the welcome.
“This a very emotional day. I was not expecting this, thanks everyone for the warm welcome,” he said. “Today is something that I will never forget, turning up at the front gate of the factory and seeing everyone out on the street to welcome me – I’m blown away.
“This has been an incredible year, it’s been an incredible journey together. There’s a huge amount of respect and appreciation I have for everyone. I’ve been in the sport for a long time now, but to see the work ethic in Brixworth and Brackley really inspires me. Every time I come around, I see everyone operating at 100%, which encourages me to bring my best performance.
“Thank you all for helping me achieve my dreams, it would not have been possible without you. This is the best championship year, because we’ve been fighting another team and because we’ve had the difficulties and challenges we’ve had – that just makes it so much greater.”
A social roundup of images and videos are below, all via Hamilton and the Mercedes team on social media.