Vettel expecting Hamilton challenge
Updated: Friday, 08 Feb 2013 10:10
Sebastian Vettel believes Lewis Hamilton can still be a contender for this year's Formula One world title.
After a troubled opening two days of testing for Hamilton's Mercedes team, there were smiles all round yesterday as Nico Rosberg ran for a punishing 148 laps - the equivalent of two grands prix distances.
Rosberg ultimately finished second on the timesheet at the end of the third of four days this week at the Circuito de Jerez with a lap of one minute 18.766secs.
The 27-year-old German found himself sandwiched between pacesetter in Ferrari's Felipe Massa and three-times world champion Vettel on his maiden outing in the new Red Bull.
Massa posted the fastest time of the week so far with a 1:17.879 - albeit on the faster, soft tyres - with Vettel 1.2secs adrift.
With Rosberg finally proving the Mercedes can be reliable, after an electrical fault curtailed his running on Tuesday, whilst Hamilton crashed following a rear-brake failure on Wednesday, there may yet be hope for the 28-year-old Briton.
Asked whether Hamilton could challenge for the championship, Vettel said: "Yes, of course.
"The way least season started with a lot of different teams and drivers winning races, there's nothing that speaks against that happening again this year."