Vettel: We’re doing better than expected

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Sebastian Vettel believes that the Red Bull team is doing better than expected as the Formula 1 circus arrives in Malaysia ahead of next weekend’s race in Kuala Lumpur.

Vettel retired from the Australian Grand Prix after just three laps due to an engine problem, meaning that his hopes of winning a record-breaking tenth straight grand prix were soon dashed. Despite Red Bull coming away from Melbourne with zero points following Daniel Ricciardo’s disqualification, Vettel is still pleased with the team’s position heading to the Malaysian Grand Prix given the struggles it endured in the pre-season tests.

“We still have a lot of work to do with the car but it was encouraging to see that our pace was better than expected in Australia,” Vettel explained. “Hopefully we can build on that and start collecting some strong points in the next two races.”

The team had been well behind the front-running teams during testing, but responded in great fashion down under as Ricciardo rallied to finish the race in second place, only to be disqualified for a fuel irregularity.

Vettel will return to the site of the infamous ‘Multi 21’ debacle that occurred at last year’s Malaysian Grand Prix, where he deliberately ignored team orders to seize victory from teammate Mark Webber. However, the German driver is focusing on dealing with the unique challenges that the Sepang International Circuit poses.

“Looking to the track, the two overtaking possibilities are the first corner and before the last corner, which in both cases is after a long straight; my favourite corners are five and six,” he said.

“Beside the challenge of the circuit, you have to cope with the tropical heat. We can be driving in humidity of up to 90%, while big thunderstorms in the afternoon are not uncommon.”

With the race being held in monsoon season, wet weather usually hits the track at some point during the race weekend. In 2009, the weather was so bad that the race had to be red flagged after just 31/56 laps, with Jenson Button being declared the winner and receiving half-points.

F1 Paddock Pass: United States Grand Prix post-race (VIDEO)

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As Lewis Hamilton took another step towards his fourth Formula 1 World Championship Sunday at the United States Grand Prix at Circuit of The Americas, plenty of other topics of discussion emerged in the wake of Round 17 of the season from Austin.

Hamilton’s win came as his Mercedes AMG Petronas team claimed its fourth consecutive Constructor’s Championship, Scuderia Ferrari came up short once again despite a valiant effort in second and third, and Max Verstappen’s penalty after the race was the major talking point.

Elsewhere Valtteri Bottas struggled again, the Sahara Force India twins continued to pick up points, Carlos Sainz Jr. made a major positive impact in his first start with Renault, Brendon Hartley impressed on debut at Toro Rosso and Romain Grosjean and Haas F1 Team endured a tough weekend on Haas’ home soil.

Check out all the recap from the latest USGP in the latest post-race edition of the NBC Sports Group original digital series Paddock Pass with NBCSN pit reporter and insider Will Buxton, below.