May 22, 2014, 7:00 AM EDT
Sebastian Vettel believes that the advantage that Mercedes currently enjoys at the beginning of the 2014 Formula 1 season is greater than Red Bull’s ever was over the past five years.
Mercedes has made a superb start to the season, leading every lap and claiming four one-two finishes to accompany its five wins. As a result, the German marque leads the constructors’ championship by over 100 points after just five rounds.
“We’ve never been in that kind of position,” Vettel explained in Monaco yesterday. “It’s easy now to look back and say we dominated everything and it was easy, but the way I remember it was a little bit different to that.
“I don’t think we ever started the season with five wins as a team. We had a different and strong finish last year but if you look at the races and the gaps, I think it’s a different story.”
Vettel and Red Bull won four world championships together between 2010 and 2013, and it culminated in a superb run of nine straight wins at the end of last season. However, the team rarely outclassed the field in the comfortable fashion that Mercedes has so far this year.
“We’ve been at the top the last couple of years, we know how it feels like and the sort of things you have to deal with, probably now they are in a similar position and they deserve it as they do the best job,” Vettel explained, praising the German team.
“You have to respect that Mercedes has a strong package so they will be very strong here I guess.
“Nico and Lewis are very good around here so they will be the ones to beat but maybe we can be a bit closer.”
In first practice earlier today, Red Bull did appear to have made a step forward as Daniel Ricciardo finished within three-tenths of first-placed Lewis Hamilton. Nevertheless, Mercedes does remain the team to beat, and barring something out of the ordinary, it is difficult to see that changing any time soon.