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Omens good for Vettel despite 3rd place
Laine Clark
21:00 AEST Sun Mar 17 2013

According to Sebastian Vettel, the Red Bull driver's Formula One title defence is on track despite letting a golden chance slip from pole position and being relegated to a distant third in Sunday's Australian Grand Prix.

One of only three drivers in history to have claimed three straight world titles, Vettel, 25, is used to winning.

And more of the same was expected from the German in Melbourne when he capped a Red Bull one-two on top of the qualifying time sheets ahead of Sunday's F1 season opener.

But eyebrows were raised when Vettel struggled with tyre management and strategy via a mid-race hold-up behind backmarker Adrian Sutil of Force India as Lotus driver Kimi Raikkonen claimed line honours 22 seconds ahead of the German.

At one stage flying Finn Raikkonen was so far ahead Vettel thought he only had Ferrari's Fernando Alonso to overtake in order to claim the race lead.

However, Vettel cut a relaxed figure after being relegated to the uncharacteristic role of bridesmaid.

"I am really happy with third place," he said.

"When you start from pole you want to win but I think we can be happy with the pace for the whole weekend.

"The car left a great impression. The team worked calmly. In the first race we seem to have started where we left off last year.

"Obviously there is a bit of home work to do with the tyres before next week but it was a good day for us."

Usually the driver leaving others in his dust, Vettel was initially taken aback by the race speed of Raikkonen who only hit the pits twice - a stop less than the German.

"I was quite surprised when I was missing one car in my calculations. I didn't see Kimi - he was way ahead of us," Vettel said.

"But I'm not worried. We have to admit sometimes that other people are faster."