Red Bull Racing insists it is not arrogant enough to believe its car is as far ahead of the opposition as its stunning qualifying form suggests.
The RB7 has started from pole position at every grand prix so far this year, but its sometimes one-second per lap advantage in single-lap performance has not been matched in the races. At Barcelona, the team was again in a class of its own in qualifying but, in the grand prix, Vettel was pushed all the way by Lewis Hamilton, at an aerodynamically demanding track which should have enabled Red Bull Racing to have more of an advantage.
When asked if McLaren's challenge was a concern, because Barcelona should have been much easier for Red Bull owing to its supposed car advantage, team principal Christian Horner said: "It wasn't concerning at all, because we won the grand prix. I think that at the end of the day, it would be very arrogant of us to think we have a car advantage that would enable us to pull away at one second per lap.
"We managed to have a phenomenal qualifying here and, as we saw in China, McLaren pushed us hard there. They were competitive in the race and they were not competitive two weeks ago in Turkey. It tends to see-saw. But they brought a huge upgrade, almost a B-spec car here, and the upgrades that we have introduced have moved us forward. So I think that we are in a good situation. The form will continue to vary and is circuit dependent, where some teams will be stronger in the race and some in qualifying."
Horner believes that Red Bull Racing's bigger advantage that it has in qualifying compared to the race is most probably related to the way it uses its Pirelli rubber.
"It is all about the tire," he said. "I think that we managed to extract a lap out of the tire in qualifying that led to a hugely impressive margin here, but I don't think you can abuse the tire like that in the race.
"You either do that and go for a five-stop, or you make the stints suit your strategy and react to the pace of people around you. McLaren was a lot more competitive as we expected they would be in the race. But it is funny because two weeks ago Ferrari was our main competitor, and in Spain we lapped them. So it varies circuit to circuit."