Vettel meets the fans Australian GP 2012.jpg © Red Bull Racing

Red Bull Racing’s drivers get the new F1 season underway with a press conference at Albert Park...

The traditional race-opening press conference is an opportunity for the FIA to put drivers of interest before the media for a formal grilling. With six seats available and 24 drivers racing, it’s usual to have a mix of the famous and not-so-famous: world champions, rookies, recent race winners and anyone in the news.

It isn’t common to have both drivers from one team but this week, with Red Bull providing both the world champion and the local hero (who also won the last race) they decided to let both Seb and Mark have the hot seats.

For Vettel, the obvious question was whether he thinks he has a chance of emulating Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher by winning three championships in a row. Seb insisted he isn’t thinking about it.

“I’m here to win the championship, so that’s the target,” he said. “Whether it’s the third or not wouldn’t make a difference. It would be a nice thing but the reason we’re here is to race and to win.”

The reigning World Champion was not to be drawn on his views on whether the RB8 (which he’s named Abbey) is capable of defending his title, insisting that information will develop in the weeks ahead rather than being confirmed or disproved this weekend.

“We’ll know a little more after qualifying [but] this is the first race… it’s the first couple of races that will show you a trend. Sooner than that is really not possible.”

While Red Bull and McLaren both looked strong during winter testing, Vettel pointed out that the pre-season work tends to be inconclusive. “It was difficult to read testing 100%. It’s important to have a good feeling about yourself, about the car, how you feel in the car and we were quite happy with that – but at this stage it’s unknown what is going to happen.”

The bookmakers think otherwise: many have Vettel at 11/10 to become a triple world champion. 

null© Red Bull Racing

Mark Webber, meanwhile, found himself cast as the unlikely commentator on aesthetics. Fortunately, he said he quite literally didn’t have a point of view. While spectators have been horrified by the stepped noses on this year’s cars, Mark said it isn’t a problem for the drivers.

“You can’t see the nose from the cockpit so it doesn’t matter,” said Mark. “Yeah, they look ugly for sure and that’s disappointing - Adrian [Newey] always makes beautiful cars. The McLaren looks nice but we will see which one gets the most Champagne.”

They’ll have something more concrete to discuss tomorrow after the first practice sessions of the new season.

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