Sebastian Vettel expects this season will be “at least as tight as last year” as the stable rules have made it difficult for any team to get a jump on their rivals
Ahead of the major revamp in 2014, which includes an overhaul of Formula One’s engine regulations, this season the sport’s rules have remained stable with only a few tweaks such as the ban on the Mercedes-style double DRS.
As a result Vettel, who drove his new RB9 for the first time at Jerez on Thursday, reckons fans could be in for a closely-contested season.
“It might be that there is a favourite after these three tests, but it could turn out to be completely the opposite in Australia because it’s a different track, a different characteristic,” said the triple World Champ.
“I expect it to be at least as tight as last year, the regulations haven’t really changed, so it’s difficult to make up a lot of ground and equally if you’re at the front it’s difficult to find something else that makes you a lot quicker.
“That’s the same for everyone but the car feels good so far, I think from the outside there’s not that much new but mostly stuff underneath and that all seemed to work in terms of reliability which is now the most important thing.”
Last season Vettel was involved in a tense tussle all the way to the chequered flag with Fernando Alonso, eventually beating the Spaniard by three points.
This season, though, the 25-year-old reckons others - including Mercedes driver Lewis Hamilton - could be involved.
Asked whether Hamilton could challenge, Vettel said: “Yes, of course.
“The way least season started with a lot of different teams and drivers winning races, there’s nothing that speaks against that happening again this year.
“The regulations haven’t really changed, and at some stage I think it will get even closer at the top and so everyone is in the hunt.
“We saw last year Williams set some highlights, winning in Barcelona - not because they were lucky but because they were fast.
“Even if after the last Barcelona test you have a certain favourite, it could all be different in Australia.”