• Malaysian Grand Prix

Vettel: We are catching Mercedes

ESPN Staff
March 30, 2014 « Alonso: Fourth is 'nearly the maximum' | Ricciardo handed 10-place grid penalty »
Sebastian Vettel saw off team-mate Daniel Ricciardo in the early stages © Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel admits his podium at the Malaysian Grand Prix was beyond expectations but insists it demonstrates the fact Red Bull is hot on the heels of Mercedes.

Vettel was the best of the rest behind the Mercedes duo at Sepang, and at one point looks like he could challenge Nico Rosberg for second. It eventually proved to be a bridge too far but Vettel feels his first podium of 2014 shows the big steps forward the team is making after being written off by many in the winter.

"Yeah, it is," he said when asked whether third was above his expectations for the weekend. "Just look where we were one and a half months ago. It's important what we've done since then, a massive job from team and Renault. Both are pushing flat out. Mercedes is still quite a bit ahead and always have enough in hand to respond. It is up to us how quick we managed to come back. At the moment it looks like we're making bigger steps than them, so I hope it continues."

Vettel knows Mercedes has an advantage at the moment but is also aware how important it is to collect points now while Red Bull is playing catch up.

"For now obviously it's important to collect points but we'll try and be where they are soon. We a strong team, I know that. You can see that given the results and the pace we had in the first two grand prix. In my point of view it is just a question of time."

Vettel was made to work hard for third, after getting away slowly off the line and losing out to Rosberg and team-mate Daniel Ricciardo through the first corners. He soon got past his team-mate but admits being stuck behind Rosberg demonstrates where the team still has to work.

"The start was not so good. I was surprised when I saw Nico on my right. I thought I had a good start, but yeah I focused on getting in the tow of Lewis to try and get him into the first corner, then Nico was there on the right and it was quite tight. Daniel was coming as well as I was trying to pass Nico, so I lost a place. Fortunately I got it back. Later on obviously I was trying to get as close as I could to Nico. At some stage it looks like we are pretty similar, pretty evenly matched, but then it's like he found another gear, he was pulling away and in the end I was just trying to bring the car home."

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