Tire woes stop Vettel from challenging for win

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Sebastian Vettel has lamented his tires for preventing him from challenging Kimi Raikkonen for victory at the Australian Grand Prix in Melbourne.

“We had a good day today with a pole and a podium – but in the race we were a little too aggressive with the tires and lost the front and the rears, while others did a little better.”

Having taken pole position in qualifying, Vettel’s rear tires were evidently worn as he sat on the grid, but he managed a good start to stay in the lead ahead of Felipe Massa, Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton.

However, as the race wore on, Vettel was hindered by two-stopping Adrian Sutil which caused the defending champion to be too aggressive on his tires. After losing out to Alonso in the second round of stops, Vettel could not reclaim the position as his Pirellis became increasingly difficult to work with. He did not hide his disappointment about finishing third, but the German driver looked to take the positives from the weekend.

“I think you’re always a little disappointed when you start first and don’t finish first, but overall it was a good weekend for us. We didn’t see Kimi on the track, he was too quick and Fernando jumped us at a vulnerable time – but we can be happy with third.”

Teammate Mark Webber started alongside Vettel on the front row, but following a poor start he finished down in sixth place. Red Bull will be disappointed not to have continued their end-of-2012 form in Australia, but there are signs of pace in the RB9.

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Daniel Ricciardo would relish being Lewis Hamilton’s teammate

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BAKU, Azerbaijan (AP) — Daniel Ricciardo says he would relish the challenge of having Lewis Hamilton as his teammate if he joins Mercedes next year.

Ricciardo is out of contract at Red Bull at the end of the season and expressed interest in joining teams like Mercedes or Ferrari to help him challenge for the championship.

The Australian says he would “love to obviously be challenged against the best and Lewis is obviously up there.”

He adds: “I don’t want to say it’s just Lewis I’m looking for but that would be a good challenge.”

Ricciardo says he won’t accept a faster car if it means playing second fiddle to an established star.

He says “there’s always been really good clarity and fairness (at Red Bull) … and I would expect that environment everywhere.”