Sebastian Vettel believes Red Bull Racing needs more track time in order to extract the full potential from its car, which he reckons has no fundamental issues.
Red Bull, the dominant force last season, was unable to challenge McLaren for pole or victory in the season-opening Australian Grand Prix. But while Vettel qualified down in sixth position, but recovered in the race to finish second behind Jenson Button. The Red Bull driver believes his team will be stronger once it has enough track time to fine-tune the RB8.
"I think we need track time to really understand what is going on in the car," said Vettel at Sepang. "I don't think we have a problem in the car as in we don't understand what is going on, or the front end is weak or the rear is a disaster.
"It is fine-tuning here and there. We have seen it in previous years that fine-tuning can make quite a difference if you know exactly what your car needs, to fine-tune it toward the race or qualifying or whatever you may need. You get quite a lot of performance out of that so on top of that it is not a secret that if you feel comfortable in the car you allow yourself to be pushed to the limit."
The German said he was still drawing confidence from the Australian Grand Prix, especially after his recovery in the race.
"We had lots of positives from the last race, we were not strong enough to win the race but we got 100 percent out of ourselves, out of the car so it was a very good start in that respect," said Vettel. "Surely, in terms of performance we would have loved to be stronger, in particular in qualifying but it's a long year so there is no reason to panic.
"I think we are motivated and hungry to make sure that McLaren doesn't keep the upper hand, but for now you have to accept that they had a very good weekend and a very good preparation in the winter, so we'll see what happens this weekend."
The World Champion admitted he will not be happy to finish second again though if he has the chance to win the race in Sepang, admitting he was pleased with his result in Melbourne only because of the poor result in qualifying.
"Don't get me wrong, I was happy with second because of the way the race unfolded, I think if you start sixth and we couldn't have gone any faster," he said. "We got everything out of ourselves that we had and then you are quite happy to cross the line and you are happy. Whereas if you are leading the whole way and you make a mistake and you lose the lead on the last lap and you are second, like I did in Canada last year, then maybe you are not so happy with second. Ultimately, given the circumstances with the struggle we had the last weekend, maybe it was a good result."