Champions Red Bull go from hunters to hunted

Wednesday, 2 February 2011 00:01 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

Reuters) - Champions Red Bull unveiled the new RB7 car that every Formula One team wants to beat on Tuesday, with a sense of expectation and a few jitters.

Germany’s Sebastian Vettel, the sport’s youngest champion at 23 years old, and Australian team mate Mark Webber pulled the wraps off before the first test session of the year at the Valencia circuit.

Had they produced a pot of paint and daubed a target on the side of the gleaming new beauty, it would have been entirely understandable.

As Vettel told reporters afterwards, the hunters have become the hunted with a focus now on defending the precious spoils -- the drivers’ and constructors’ crowns -- they took for the first time last year.

“It will be a tough battle and a long, hard fight,” said the German, looking ahead to an unprecedented 20 race season that starts in Bahrain on March 13.

“I think we need to focus again and motivation is not a problem.

“It is a difficult situation we are in now, probably more difficult than we were in last year where we just said ‘okay, let’s go for the title’,” he added.

The long wait is over, says confident Schumacher

Reuters) - A confident Michael Schumacher breathed a sigh of relief on Tuesday as Formula One roared back into action after the long winter break and Mercedes presented the car that could take him to a record eighth crown.

“Finally the waiting is over and things get started,” the 42-year-old seven-times world champion said in a team statement before team mate Nico Rosberg took the car out for a first installation lap at the Valencia circuit.

“For us drivers, the break every year is hard to take because the gap between the last race and the first time out on track seems to be never-ending.

“Even if I have been involved and updated all winter on the developments, and even if I know the improvements are significant, it is still different to see the new car literally for the first time in front of you,” added the winner of 91 races since his debut 20 years ago.

“I very much look forward to the new season. We have said it several times already but again, we are really building up to something big together.”