Sunday, 30 March 2014 | MYT 10:33 PM
Vettel believes Red Bull still lagging behind
Red Bull's Sebastian Vettel during his second pit stop at the Malaysian Grand Prix. - AFP
SEPANG: Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel may have claimed his first podium of the season but that did not stop him from conceding that his Red Bull team still have a long way to go to catch Mercedes.
He finished the 56-lap race 24.5 seconds behind winner Lewis Hamilton of Mercedes but Red Bull are also 53 points adrift in the constructors’ championship after the first two rounds.
Vettel retired early in the opening race in Melbourne two weeks ago.
“Mercedes are still quite a bit ahead and always have enough in hand to respond. It’s up to us how quickly we manage to come back,” said Vettel.
“At the moment, it looks like we are making bigger steps than them, so I hope it continues.
“But there is a lot still to learn and we need the laps, but for now it’s important to collect points.”
Vettel started from second on the front row of the grid but the German was swallowed up by the Mercedes drivers before having to battle his Australian team-mate Daniel Ricciardo for third.
He eventually pulled ahead and maintained third all the way to the chequered flag.
Vettel expressed satisfaction with his outing at Sepang this year.
“Considering where we were not even two months ago, I think this weekend is a massive step in the right direction. It’s a shame we didn’t finish with both cars,” he said.
Vettel won the race last year under controversial circumstances, ignoring team orders to pass Australian team-mate Mark Webber in the closing stages to take the chequered flag.