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Pre-China analysis - Vettel and Webber ready to resume work 12 Apr 2013

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, signs autographs for fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing celebrates with the champagne on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing signs autographs for the fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 (L to R): Nico Hulkenberg (GER) Sauber and Adrian Sutil (GER) Force India F1.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013

Red Bull team mates Sebastian Vettel and Mark Webber put their race faces on on Thursday in China as they prepared for their first on-track battle since their controversial and acrimonious clash at the recent Malaysian Grand Prix.

In the intervening weeks the triple champion has apologised to the Red Bull workforce at Milton Keynes and started work in his new role as director of performance for team sponsor Infiniti, but makes it clear that he is still interested only in winning races.

He and Webber have history - notably their spectacular collision while fighting for the lead of the 2010 Turkish race, and later that season when Webber turned the tables by winning the British round even though he’d had to give Vettel his more efficient front wing after the German’s own version had broken.

Vettel has also been less than impressed with Webber’s decisions to fight him on the track at times when he’s wanted help to win a title, notably in Brazil. "There was more than one occasion in the past when he could have helped the team and he didn't," Vettel said, admitting that was ‘indirectly’ why he had ignored team orders to maintain station behind the Australian in Malaysia.

He also said that he would almost certainly not have handed the lead back in Sepang had he been instructed to by team principal Christian Horner. "I would have thought about it and would probably have done the same thing because Mark doesn't deserve that," he said trenchantly.

Webber seemed relaxed despite the latest round of animosity leaving no doubt in the world’s mind just how tricky the relationship has been with his team mate. Sporting an aggressively close-cut haircut, he responded quietly. “If all that’s what Sebastian thinks, then that’s what he thinks, that’s his position on what happened in Malaysia,” he said.

He then went on to set out his stall for the rest of 2013, deriding rumours that were rife in Sepang that he might quit the sport altogether. It’s possible he might still do a deal with Ferrari for 2014, or spearhead Porsche’s imminent return to long-distance sportscar racing, but he also said that he could still be interested in another Red Bull contract should the opportunity arise. Why not; who would voluntarily walk away from an Adrian Newey-designed supercar?

“First of all, I’m definitely keen to finish the season off,” Webber confirmed. “Obviously a lot of people were even questioning that, which was certainly not something that was in my mind. I’m definitely keen to race this year and put together a very strong campaign and challenge for more wins - you do enough of that and some more things can happen. So that’s the first goal.

“The next part is, yeah, year by year, that’s how it’s always been for me. So come the summer, I will talk to Dietrich Mateschitz and then go from there. If I’m driving well, performances are good, then we’ll make some decisions in the future but at the moment, it’s the second or third race and I’ve never ever made decisions on my career at this point in the season. Obviously it’s a bit of a topic at the moment, but I don’t see why I should make any decisions at the moment for the future.”

Like Vettel, he says that the latest incident between them is now behind them.

“In last part of a Grand Prix it’s normal that there’s a lot of emotions going through you because we put a lot of effort in, everybody does. There’s never any guarantees for any Grand Prix victories so if the race is going quite well... Second was still a good result, obviously, but not the result that I would have liked. But in the end, we know what happened. But Malaysia is not just one event in this scenario. We know we’ve had many scenarios in the past, so there’s a lot of things which then come into your mind - positive, negative, whatever. You’ve still got to drive the car, that’s my job, so I still got the car home, good result.

“I think it’s normal for a driver to have a lot of emotions in the car, generally. You’ve got to try and get the emotions down. But it’s part of our job, whether you’re leading Monte Carlo and finishing the race there with different emotions and different disappointments, ups and downs, it’s completely normal that we have emotions in the cockpit.”

Meanwhile, there’s greater harmony down at Force India, where Adrian Sutil and Paul di Resta are confident that the peculiar wheel-nut problem that afflicted them in Malaysia has been resolved. And Sutil, who led spectacularly for a spell in Australia, confirmed that his comeback has gone how he hoped it would.

“It’s not been too difficult. I was just driving as fast as I could. I was happy to be back in the car and it worked very well. The car, for my opinion, is very good. It’s the best car I’ve driven. Very neutral balance, quite good on the tyres and the race pace is very competitive. It was just a good start in Melbourne, disappointing in Malaysia because the pace was very, very good again but in qualifying we were caught out a little bit again with the rain. And in the race, well, we saw the problems with the pit stops. But we solved those and we’re confident. I’m confident and go on for the next mission here in China.

“I think everything is possible. It’s in my hands, I think, so I have targets and try to do my best to reach those. Of course we want to be absolutely on the top, that’s why we’re here and we want to make that happening. But it’s a hard way. We showed it’s possible here and there to make a good result. I think in Australia that was a good start, to lead a race with this car. It’s never easy. Nico (Hulkenberg) did it last year; next race was Australia so two times in a row a Force India led quite a lot of laps in the race. It’s just a sign that with this car there’s definitely much more possible. For sure a podium is my goal.”

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