McLaren team to beat – Vettel

Reigning world drivers’ champion Sebastian Vettel believes that McLaren (4/11 2012 world constructors’ championship outright) are the team to beat after the German slumped to an 11th-placed finish in the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Fellow Red Bull driver Mark Webber fared better, narrowly missing out on a podium finish following an intriguing race on the slippery Sepang track.

But the result leaves the Red Bull team a distant second in the constructors’ championship, 13 points adrift of pace-setters McLaren.

He said: “There are several strong teams, but McLaren seem particularly strong right now. They are the team to beat.”

Vettel, who was fancied by many to defend his drivers’ championship title for a second consecutive year in 2012, has slipped to sixth in the latest standings, and knows that improvement in necessary at this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix (Vettel 4/1 race winner) if he is to re-invigorate his ambitions of making it a hat-trick of season wins.

He added: “It’s a long championship and I’m sure there will plenty more shocks and twists and turns between now and the end of the season. It’s pretty unpredictable, but that’s what makes this season so great I think.”

Vettel’s last win came in last season’s Indian Grand Prix, although the German performed well on the opening weekend in Australia, finishing a close second to Lewis Hamilton.

Ironically, Vettel finished second to Hamilton in last season’s Chinese Grand Prix, and he will be hoping to go one better in Shanghai this time around.

He said: “We did quite a good job in Australia, and Malaysia was chaotic with the weather. But we have a good car and the objective is to fight for the title.”

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