MELBOURNE, March 18, 2012 (AFP) - World champion Sebastian Vettel said his second place in Sunday's season-opening Australian Grand Prix proved that Red Bull are in better shape than their poor qualifying performance had suggested.
After dominating the 2011 season, Red Bull's Mark Webber and Vettel were knocked back to fifth and sixth on the Albert Park grid.
But Vettel found the pace to make progress and was soon up to third when compatriot and seven-times champion Michael Schumacher was forced to retire his Mercedes.
He then grabbed second when he took advantage of a safety car period to pass Lewis Hamilton of McLaren at the final pit stops.
"I am happy to come away with second. A lot of people did not expect it after yesterday. It was a positive race for us, one we knew would be a difficult one - so to come second with a lot of points is important," said Vettel.
"The car has a lot of potential. I would have loved to be in a better position yesterday. Now we need to address problems and make sure we give them a harder time next week (in Malaysia)."
Webber, who finished fourth -- his best result in his home race -- said: "There are some positives to take out of today.
"Qualifying was difficult for us, but the race pace was better. It was just that we didn't have track position. I had a poor start, so I need to see what happened there and then I got sandwiched at Turn 1.
"I didn't want the race to be over; I was able to keep going and then started to build from there."
Webber believes that third was a realistic outcome, but the lack of overtaking opportunites at Albert Park made the challenge too difficult.
"We had a bit of luck with the Safety Car and I was quicker than Lewis at the end, but it's a difficult track to overtake here - in Malaysia it would have been different."