Manama, April 22, 2012 (AFP) - Sebastian Vettel believes the 2012 season will continue to be an unpredictable contest despite surging to his first win of the year in Sunday's Bahrain Grand Prix.
The 24-year-old German claimed his first victory since last year's Indian Grand Prix and the 22nd of his career when he drove from pole position to the chequered flag.
But after acknowledging that his Red Bull team had struggled to keep pace with the McLaren and Mercedes teams in the opening races, Vettel said he expected the rest of the year to remain an unpredictable roller-coaster.
The new championship leader said: "It's a very tight season, the cars are very close to each other and small things can make a huge difference on a Sunday.
"I think we started the season saying that the McLaren is the fastest car by quite a bit and we've seen that on Sunday it can be a different picture. I think they still have one of the strongest packages.
"But you need to get everything right. You need to have the right tyres, you need to treat them right, you need to find the right set-up through the course of the weekend, so there are a lot of things to look out for."
Vettel said he believed a decision to run an older exhaust package on his car at the previous week's race in China, while team-mate Mark Webber, who came fourth in Sakhir, continued with the latest version had helped Red Bull prepare more successfully for Bahrain.
But, he admitted, he was not expecting such a dramatic improvement in performance this weekend.
He added: "I am very happy we made it here. We were not quite sure how competitive we would be.
"I think China was a very good lesson for us -- to understand the weakness of the car a little bit more by driving with two different packages.
"Here we focused on the new package and pushing that forward."
Vettel added: "I'm just happy for now. I don't really care what happens in the next race -- at least not today.
"I think we will have a good time now and push harder so that we make sure we are there again next race."