Vettel expecting tough race despite good qualifying

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Defending world champion Sebastian Vettel is pleased with his qualifying performance today at the Circuit de Catalunya, and he is preparing himself for a four-team battle for the race win tomorrow.

Vettel will line up 3rd on the grid for the Spanish Grand Prix and although he finished over three-tenths behind pole-sitter Nico Rosberg, he was happy with the result.

“I am quite happy to be honest,” Vettel said in the press conference after qualifying. “Yesterday and this morning I was really happy, and I think we improved the car. We took a different approach to the majority of people, using option tyres only.

“Whether that helps us tomorrow we have to wait and see. It will be a long race, it will be about tire degradation.”

Degradation has certainly been a problem for many of the teams in Spain, and it will be interesting to see how the split in strategies between the top teams pans out.

In terms of his rivals, Vettel was full of praise for Mercedes following their front-row lockout.

“Mercedes are in front of us right now, and to be honest they had some long runs and didn’t look too bad.”

However, he also was wary of Ferrari and Lotus’ pace, with Raikkonen, Alonso, Massa and Grosjean following the German driver on the grid.

“On the long runs yesterday both Ferrari and Lotus were pretty competitive, so we can expect them to be very strong in the race.”

Should Mercedes’ tire woes strike once again, Vettel will be well poised to win for a second time at the Spanish Grand Prix. However, he will have to account for the charging Lotus and Ferrari drivers, but he will be keen on proving his triple-champion credentials.

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.”