Exclusive interview - Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel 06 Oct 2007
Last Sunday in Japan the podium was within reach when a lapse in judgment by Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel dumped him - and Red Bulls Mark Webber - out of the race. After walking back to the pits, the distraught Vettel was seen banging his head against the wall in sheer disbelief.
Six days later the German has got back in the saddle and qualified an impressive 12th in China, only to then be dropped down the order by the stewards for blocking Renaults Heikki Kovalainen. So is Vettel a loose cannon - or just a determined young racer?
Q: How did you get over what happened at the Fuji Speedway? Did you brush it off as just an accident?
SB: Ah, it did take two or three days until I was able to breath normally again. It was pretty bad for me - and for sure for Mark it must have been a nightmare as he really was the victim. We both were in fantastic positions and my guess is that we would have brought that two-three position home. It was inconceivable how hard that was to swallow. If I had slipped after aquaplaning or missed a braking point in those very difficult conditions then I would exactly know what had happened - but to hit Marks rear end in the safety car phase - that I found difficult to accept for myself.
Q: Im sure the team consoled you
SV: Yes, they all were fantastic in their support. But its ones own ego that needs time to recover from such an affair.
Q: When the incident occurred you were running in third position. Was that a surprise for you?
SV: Well, the car was good all weekend and after the two Ferraris pitted I found myself in third position - and the car had the speed to keep up with Lewis (Hamilton) and Mark. And in the end you sit in the car and fight as hard as you can and dont wonder gee, why I am so fast? You just keep on pushing.
Q: Prior to Japan the STR2 was not really seen as a podium contender. Were there any major changes ahead of the Fuji race?
SV: We were running on wets - that was about it. We started the race with a dry set-up and only modified the wing shortly before the race.
Q: Now back to Sundays race. You have qualified in 12th position and, after escaping the penalty for the Fuji incident, the stewards have now found you guilty of impeding Heikki Kovalainen and relegated you five places to 17th. What do you say about this? Is it justified?
SV: I have no comment on that at this very moment.
Q: Your team mate Tonio Liuzzi qualified in 11th and you originally in 12th - Toro Rossos best-ever overall qualifying result. So it cant be just a small modification to the wing that has improved your form. There must be more. Is this the start of a permanent upswing in Toro Rossos performance?
SV: Hopefully. You always have the urge to be further in front - and having a good rivalry between team mates boosts the performance of the whole team. That is what you see with us now. Of course, running in third position in Fuji - up until that unspeakable incident - has to be seen in isolation as the conditions were so bizarre that you cannot take it as a parameter. But we have shown here that we also have the speed in the dry. That indicates that we are clearly going in the right direction.
Q: Seventeenth position is not 12th, but the weather forecast suggests a wet race on Sunday which means your odds of success could look very different. Could we see another Fuji - only without the collision?
SV: I think with the Fuji experience of how the car is behaving in the wet I would say yes, a good result could be possible. One thing is clear - we were not in that position because Ferrari dropped out or McLaren, but because we had the speed and belonged there. So should conditions be similar tomorrow I would not mind repeating Fuji - without the crash - as I have learned that lesson!