Vettel sees Formula One title race as wide open

Thu Feb 7, 2013 2:11pm EST
 
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By Alan Baldwin

JEREZ, Spain (Reuters) - This year's Formula One title race looks wide open to Red Bull's triple world champion Sebastian Vettel.

Asked whether he still saw Britain's Lewis Hamilton as a contender now that the 2008 champion has moved from race winners McLaren to the Mercedes team that was far less competitive last year, the German nodded.

"Yes, of course. I think the way that last season started, with a lot of different teams and drivers winning the races, there's nothing that speaks against it happening again this year," he told reporters after his first drive of the new Red Bull RB9 on Thursday.

"The regulations haven't really changed. At some stage I think it will be getting even closer at the top and therefore everyone is in the hunt."

Last year started with seven different winners in the opening seven races and ended as a duel between Vettel and Ferrari's Fernando Alonso as the top teams got on top of the Pirelli tires.

Pirelli have changed the compounds for this year with the aim of encouraging overtaking and introducing more stops.

Vettel cited the example of Williams, who won in Spain last year because they were fast rather than lucky, and suggested the same could happen again with less-fancied teams enjoying their moment in the spotlight.

"We have to wait and see. Even if after the last Barcelona test you have a certain favorite, it could be all different in Australia. It's a different track and a different temperature. It's going to be a long season," he said.   Continued...

 
Red Bull Formula One driver Sebastian Vettel of Germany is seen in the paddock during a training session at the Jerez racetrack in southern Spain February 7, 2013. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo