Vettel downplays US favourite tag

16 Nov 2013 09:41

World champion Sebastian Vettel did his best on Friday to pretend he should not be an odds-on favourite for the United States Grand Prix.

He clocked only the 18th best time in morning practice and then took his time in building up speed in the afternoon.

On one of the two circuits in the Formula One calendar where he has yet to record a win -- the other is the Hungaroring near Budapest -- he eased to the fastest time with little effort.

And then he talked up the chances of all his rivals.

"The circuit was quite slippery today," explained the Red Bull star.

"I was happy with the car, but you always know you can improve here and there.

"I think we got through the programme and we were able to test some things, some were good and some not so good, but we will see.

"Ferrari looked quick this morning and McLaren could be a surprise here -- and Lotus and Mercedes will be strong as normal."

Anyone listening to him for the first time might have believed he was fearful of his rivals.

But on the eve of a race weekend that might deliver for him a record-breaking eighth consecutive win, they might have deceived themselves.

Vettel knows that he could have won last year's race, but had a triumph in the Lone Star state snatched away from him by a brilliant attacking drive from Lewis Hamilton.

This time, therefore, he is determined to keep a low profile, avoid mistakes and deliver.

"The track will improve now unless it rains, the car worked well on the tyres, so we'll see what we can do on Sunday," he added with his customary grin.

A modest Friday is often followed by a storming weekend of speed and success for Vettel -- and this time, everyone is ready to see the champion in his element.

"There's a lot more to come from Seb," warned his Red Bull teammate Mark Webber.

"That was nothing like a true indicator of his pace."