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Q & A with Sebastian Vettel

After a low-key start to its testing programme, Red Bull has given notice that it will be right in the thick of the title fight again with some rapid times at Barcelona this week

But as Sebastian Vettel told reporters - including AUTOSPORT - today, while Red Bull knows it is quick, it isn't willing to make any predictions yet with the top four looking so closely matched.

Q. How much of your programme did you manage to complete today?

Sebastian Vettel: I think we did a lot of laps - as far as I remember it was 125. So more than one race distance, much more. It's good. We didn't have any problems. We had to stop in the afternoon, I was a bit tired, so...

Q. What was the reason for stopping?

SV: We did a lot of laps and I have a bit of a cold, so I said I'd have a break... No, sometimes I think it's quite normal at testing to stop just because you don't want to risk any damage, so it's better to switch the car off and stop. Obviously in a race you try to go as long as possible or in free practice you try at least to save data and bring it back to the pits, whereas here you just stop when there's an alert in the background.

Q. What is your programme tomorrow?

SV: I will be in the car, Mark [Webber] will be in the car on Sunday. I think we have had a busy two days. Obviously the last two tests at Jerez weren't perfect for all the teams as we had a lot of rain, so a lot of laps to do and a lot of things to test. I hope we get through our programme. The usual stuff, obviously, making sure that the car is reliable, finding out more about the tyres, how they work on low fuel and high fuel, and also set-up work. I also think some people will bring some new parts for here or at the latest in Bahrain, so there's a lot to do.

Q. There are two weeks until Bahrain, what is your plan for the season?

SV: I think it will be a long season, a hard fight. It looks extremely close at the moment. I think Ferrari has a bit of an advantage now. It might change before Bahrain, who knows? It might change in the next two days. But I think nevertheless it will be extremely close within four teams - Ferrari a bit ahead, then Mercedes, McLaren and us. So that's four teams, eight drivers - it's busy if only one can win!

Q. Your 2009 title bid was compromised by reliability problems - are you concerned by the niggles Red Bull has had in testing this year?

SV: No, not worried. Obviously you don't want to stop, but sometimes you don't want to risk any damage and it's better to shut the car down if you see something wrong on the data. Obviously in the race you'd try to continue, so sometimes it's nothing bad but it's better to shut the car down and bring it back and have a look. But obviously ideally you keep on running and you park the car in the garage and not somewhere on the circuit.

But I don't think we have to fear reliability issues yet. It looks good. Everything that happened I think is normal. We have a new car, new parts, everything is a bit new and slightly different in design. The cars have changed, a bigger fuel cell but also lots of new small parts, everything has changed slightly and sometimes you realise you should've done it a bit differently, but you are on top of those things very quickly.

Q. You say there are four teams in contention, but analysing the times it looks like Red Bull and Ferrari are a step ahead of McLaren and Mercedes...

SV: One day it looks like that. I think today Ferrari looked extremely quick. Probably this morning it was lower fuel - if you go in the 1m20s you have to be on low fuel - and also on the long run [Fernando] Alonso was quite quick. I don't know what was going on with McLaren and Mercedes today. I haven't looked that closely but they didn't seem to be that quick today.

But you look at the other days at Jerez and you look at yesterday and probably the next two days as well and you'll have another surprise. Sometimes it shifts. But I think overall it will be extremely tight. All four teams are big teams and they have proven many times in the past that they are competitive. So it will be a close fight. Obviously I would love to tell you that we are a second ahead of everyone, but at the moment at least it's not the case.

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