The German driver has won the last four world titles, with Red Bull also clinching the constructors’ crown in each of his championship seasons. Arguably, the team has been the fastest on the grid since the middle of 2009, with definite peaks coming in 2011 and at the end of 2013; the latter saw Vettel win nine straight races.
However, in the champion’s eyes, Mercedes is further ahead than Red Bull ever was after winning the first five races of the season, complete with four one-two finishes through Nico Rosberg (one win, one second place) and Lewis Hamilton (four wins, one DNF).
“We’ve never been in that kind of position,” he explained in Monaco ahead of this weekend’s race. “It’s easy now to look back and say we dominated everything and it was easy, but the way I remember it was a little bit different to that.
“I don’t think we ever started the season with five wins as a team. We had a different and strong finish last year but if you look at the races and the gaps, I think it’s a different story.”
Mercedes has scored 197 points out of a possible 215 at the beginning of the 2014 season, and the German marque currently enjoys a 103-point advantage in the constructors after just five races. The team’s advantage is down to a combination of a long lead up on the W05 hybrid car and the new power unit for the new regulations this year, and Vettel has accepted that it has done the best job.
“We’ve been at the top the last couple of years, we know how it feels like and the sort of things you have to deal with, probably now they are in a similar position and they deserve it as they do the best job,” he explained. “You have to respect that Mercedes has a strong package so they will be very strong here I guess.
“Nico and Lewis are very good around here so they will be the ones to beat but maybe we can be a bit closer.”
Image courtesy of Octane Photographic.