Sebastian Vettel says his Red Bull team must improve after the World Champion was soundly beaten by McLaren's Lewis Hamilton and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso in the German Grand Prix on Sunday.
Vettel finished a distant fourth in his home race following a mid-race spin, having only managed to pass Felipe Massa's Ferrari in a pit stop race on the last lap. Afterward, Vettel admitted that Red Bull's rivals are closing the gap to the championship leaders.
"Generally, I think fourth anyway was probably our maximum today which is not satisfying but you know we have to accept it and go from there," he said. "Next week is the next race and it looks like McLaren and Ferrari are getting quicker and quicker so we need to work harder on our car to try and improve it in order to be back on the podium and maybe stand on the top step again.
"Of course, it's not satisfying but I think we have to accept that today other people were quicker than us," he added. "As I said surely I'm not happy so I have to come back next time but for now I think they [McLaren] have been working and improved their car so we need to make sure that we come back.
"I didn't feel very good all weekend – I never got to the pace probably that Mark [Webber] had in the car and as I said I struggled to keep up after the three or four laps of the warm-up stage is over to keep up with the top two or three cars."
Webber, who remained in contention for the victory for much of the race, having started from pole and finished third having lost out to Hamilton and Alonso in the final round of pitstops, concurred with his teammate's assessment. The Australian admitted that there was nothing more he could have done to improve his chances of winning the race.
"I think it's clear to see," he said. "Everyone is reasonably intelligent up and down this pit lane when it comes to performance so we know that in the last race at Silverstone which has normally been a very, very good track for us, Ferrari were very quick there.
"Today there was not much more we could have done to challenge for the victory and we hung in the fight as long as possible but in the end we got outpunched.
"We know that the prizes and points are handed out on Sunday afternoon," he added. "Saturdays have always been a strong area for us, the team and the car, it's not something that we inherently design in the car. We want to do it on Sundays as well so it's something the team will work on and chip away at. We have good people and we know what we need to do to try find some more performance on Sundays."