‘Maybe they made it worse’: Vettel not sure about new Australian GP track layout

Sebastian Vettel has returned to the paddock for this weekend's Australian Grand Prix.

Aston Martin driver Sebastian Vettel is looking forward to getting his season underway at this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix after missing the first two rounds of 2022 due to COVID-19.

After testing positive for the virus ahead of the opening round of the season, Vettel was forced to sit out the first race in Bahrain while he was isolating meaning that, for the first time in 280 races, the German was not on the entry list.

He was replaced by Nico Hulkenberg, who impressively out-qualified Lance Stroll in Sakhir before finishing the race in 17th position and, with Vettel still not fit, the 34-year-old got another shot a week later in Jeddah.

READ: Should Red Bull sign George Russell instead of Lando Norris?

He would end the Saudi Arabian Grand Prix in P12, continuing a pointless start to what is already looking like a difficult season for the Aston Martin team.

They will however be buoyed by the return of Vettel, who admitted it was a peculiar feeling watching on from the sidelines.

“It was strange,” he said in the drivers’ press conference in Australia.

“It was strange to watch but at the same point I felt I just had… you know… I had races where I was feeling a bit ill and raced but it was not possible so it was definitely the right decision.

“[It was] strange to watch but on the other hand it was interesting to see how it looks from the outside.

Article continues below

“Nico I think did really well, obviously with zero preparation to jump in and do that kind of job, and I was part of all the meetings, briefings, listening to the drivers all the time so [I] tried to make the most of it but it was a bit strange.”

Vettel has scored seven podiums and won three of the 12 Australian Grand Prix he has contested.

It is a fine record for the four-time world champion in Melbourne, but he laments that such a result is likely not on the cards this time around.

“Maybe not a win, I think that would be a bit difficult,” he conceded.

“It’s not a secret, we are not where we want to be and it’s clear when you are at the back then you are never where you want to be.

READ: Mercedes delay new rear wing while Red Bull bring major upgrade to Australian GP

“[There is] a lot of work ahead of us, but we’ll try to learn more this weekend and get a further understanding with the difficulties and struggles that we have with the car.

“[I’m] looking forward to the track, I mean I love this place. The season always used to kick off here so for me in a way it does so that’s good and they changed the track quite a bit.

“Maybe they made it better, maybe they made it worse but I’ve always liked the track so [I] look forward to get in the car.”

Vettel posted 18 laps in the opening practice session in Australia before an engine failure put an end to his running as he finished the session 13th on the time sheet.