Vettel has faith in Red Bull engine

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The Independent Online

Sebastian Vettel has no concerns over the reliability of his Red Bull's Renault engine ahead of the new Formula One season.

The 22-year-old German finished as championship runner-up to Jenson Button in 2009 in only his second full Formula One campaign but it was reliability issues rather than youthful inexperience that conspired to thwart his title ambitions.

Engine failures severely hampered Vettel's chances - his double failure in practice and the race in Valencia the most glaring and costly example - and he was forced to preserve his power units over the final, crucial races as he was at his eight-engine limit for the season.

Question marks have been set against the outright pace as well as the reliability of the Renault power unit over the winter, and Red Bull went as far as to consider a switch to Mercedes engines before opting to remain with the French manufacturer.

And Vettel is confident his team's faith in Renault will be justified.

He said: "We will try to do our best. We had some problems with reliability last year, which didn't make it easier - especially for me. But I think we have solved those.

"You could see that towards the end of the year; yes we were limited on mileage and it was a compromise but we managed to get through the season without a penalty.

"That was a very good thing and we have seen since then that reliability wasn't a problem anymore. I don't expect a problem from that side.

"Performance-wise, I think sometimes it looked worse than it was, so we will see. We are confident, we have no reason to fear a weakness from the engine."

Vettel was speaking yesterday at the launch of his team's new RB6 car at Jerez, ahead of its first day of testing.

The Milton Keynes-based team are already one test behind a number of their rivals having opted to sit out last week's running at Valencia, but Vettel is optimistic they will quickly catch up.

"We committed very early that we would not run in Valencia," he explained.

"We knew very early so it wasn't the week before that we had to cancel. Of course, it's not an advantage but I don't think it's a disadvantage, so we will see.

"It is always difficult at the beginning of the season, especially at the beginning of testing.

"First of all you need to make your car work and then you see where you are. According to that, you set your expectations.

"For sure, there is only one target, to be just one step better than last year."

Vettel took the chequered flag first at Shanghai, Silverstone, Suzuka and Abu Dhabi last season and is firmly ranked among the favourites for the new campaign, which begins in Bahrain on March 14.

His challenge this year will be made all the harder by the likely re-emergence of Ferrari and McLaren, and the threat posed by the Mercedes team, who have lured seven-time world champion Michael Schumacher out of retirement to spearhead their attack.

"Obviously I hope we are as strong as we were last year, or even stronger," Vettel added.

"Then you've got teams - McLaren, Ferrari - who look very competitive already, and Mercedes with Michael. It's going to be an interesting season."