World Champion Sebastian Vettel has warned not to read too much into his rapid start to preseason testing at Valencia, but admitted he was impressed with the Red Bull RB7 on its debut.
Vettel was quickest on the opening day of the "winter season" today, with the next-best 2011 car – Fernando Alonso's Ferrari – 0.7sec slower in fifth. He was pleased with both the car's pace and its early reliability.
"I think generally it is better to be on top of the rankings rather than being on the other end," Vettel acknowledged. "It was the first day and it was most important to do laps, which we did – we did around 93 laps and that is quite an achievement and looking back it is something that we never got quite as good on the first day over the last two or three years, so that is a very good sign.
"On top of it, I feel quite comfortable in the car. I enjoyed myself today and I think it was a good start."
Vettel was pleased to have sent an early message to his rivals with today's pace, while also emphasizing that this was just the first day of a very long campaign.
"Today was day one for most of us, and it is a long, long way – long testing season, before we start racing again in Bahrain and then a very, very long season of 20 races – so even if you start with the best car, things can change so you need to keep the development up," he said. "Right now, we have just done the first step and we can be happy and proud of what we have achieved so far. It is day one and not much time between Abu Dhabi and here – 10 weeks – but for the guys to build a car that has no issues is, I reckon, good news."
He preferred not to try and judge any of Red Bull's main rivals at this early point.
"It is difficult to say at this stage, we haven't seen all the cars, particularly the McLaren car, it is not yet out on track," Vettel said. "This was the first day so very hard to draw conclusions with so little running, so we need to have more running on track to see where we are.
"It is practice for all of us, different programs, different days and we need to be aware of the big teams – hopefully us, and besides us I guess McLaren, Ferrari and Mercedes, the logical ones. And, who knows, a surprise like Renault who perhaps have an interesting [design] concept, from what we saw yesterday. So we will see.
"I think in general it is different from last year, so many things changed, especially with the diffuser, floor of the car, less complexity compared to last year, floors fairly simple and the same for all of us, and a lot of buttons to press this year. So we will see how we get on with that and the new tires. The car does feel a bit different – but not that much."