• Jerez Test, Day Three

Field will close up - Vettel

ESPN Staff
February 7, 2013 « Rossiter apologises for driving in to mechanic | 'There are a lot of very quick cars' - Massa »
Sebastian Vettel completed over 100 laps in the RB9 on his first day of testing © Sutton Images

Sebastian Vettel says he expects the 2013 season to be "at least as tight as last year" after his first day in the RB9 at pre-season testing.

Felipe Massa topped the timesheets on day three with Vettel third quickest having taken over the Red Bull from team-mate Mark Webber. Vettel was keen to stress that while the times may end up indicating a standout favourite come the end of testing, he is expecting a repeat of the close start to last year when there were seven different winners from the first seven races.

"It might be that there is a favourite after these three tests, but it could turn out to be completely the opposite in Australia because it's a different track, a different characteristic," Vettel said. "I expect it to be at least as tight as last year, the regulations haven't really changed, so it's difficult to make up a lot of ground and equally if you're at the front it's difficult to find something else that makes you a lot quicker. That's the same for everyone but the car feels good so far, I think from the outside there's not that much new but mostly stuff underneath and that all seemed to work in terms of reliability which is now the most important thing."

Speaking about his time in the car on Thursday, Vettel was predictably cautious about making too many judgements about the RB9 and its competitiveness.

"So far, I think we can be pretty happy. Mark had a good two days to start with and I took over today. It was about clearing the rust and getting back in shape. So it felt good to be out there and good to be back in the car. I think the car is working very good; obviously it's difficult to judge the speed but in terms of reliability it looked pretty good and I also feel pretty happy with the car so far."

With 2012 title rival Fernando Alonso skipping the first test, Vettel was asked if he felt he could gain any advantage himself from driving at Jerez, to which he replied: "We will see, it depends.

"For us I don't think it gives you an advantage or disadvantage, I think for us it has always been this way and there is no reason why we should change. It was always our target - Mark and myself - to get in to the car as soon as possible and to get as many days before the season to get in to the groove and get used to the car, get used to everything it needs again to start over. So the more days we can take, the better it is. But equally, this is a circuit we're not racing on, it's limited on tyres so it might be limited the amount of stuff you learn here."