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Exclusive - Vettel on his first qualifying 16 Jun 2007

Sebastian Vettel (GER) BMW Sauber.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 7, United States Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Indianapolis, USA, Saturday, 16 June 2007

Whilst Robert Kubica recovers from his Montreal crash, 19 year-old Sebastian Vettel, BMW Sauber’s reserve driver, is looking forward to his first Grand Prix. So far it’s gone well for the young German - he qualified seventh, outpacing the likes of Jarno Trulli, Mark Webber and Giancarlo Fisichella. We asked him how it felt…

Q: Since Thursday’s announcement it must seem like your world’s been turned upside down. How did it feel? Have you been able to sleep? What’s been on your mind the last 48 hours?
Sebastian Vettel:
To prepare for the first Grand prix is anything but an everyday situation so you can understand that a lot was going on emotionally. But it would be wrong to think that I was ‘on holiday’ at the last races where I did not do the Friday practice. I was in permanent contact with the engineers, listened carefully to what they told me and extracted the most info I possibly could out of the conversations. And it might surprise you, but I sleep very well. True, Thursday and Friday nights were a little agitated, as I have not been in the car for quite a while, but with the qualifying result today I know that I shouldn’t have felt worried.

Q: How does it feel to be one of the 22 fastest men in the world on four wheels?
To be one of them does not trigger a specific feeling, but to race against them makes me quite proud. It is a big challenge and I am looking forward to it. It is something very special.

Q: On Thursday evening you practised pit stops. Why was that?
In the series I am driving at the moment we also have pit stops, but this here is another dimension and we have all seen that an uneven pit stop has ruined many a good race result. I simply wanted to make sure that I internalize every step - how many people are around, which hands I have to concentrate on and which signals - to be 100 percent prepared for Sunday.

Q: Your first qualifying - how did you prepare for that?
Before qualifying I took a little ‘nap’, recapping the track corner by corner, trying to remember what is important. Once in the car I concentrated on every single lap knowing that with new tyres the first lap is mostly the fastest. Sure I knew that there are three stints, but that was not really on my mind when driving. It was simply big fun to race as the car, especially in the second stint, is quite light and it always still fascinates me to see how big a potential these cars have.

Q: How did it feel after you made it through to Q3?
I did not go into qualifying with any expectations. From the morning session we knew that everything was running smoothly and that it should suffice for Q3, which it did in the end, but I was rather unconcerned about it. I just wanted to do a good lap - wherever it would take me.

Q: But you must be pretty excited about being seventh on the grid?
Oh sure. In general I am quite satisfied, but with hindsight it is a natural thing that you always think it could have gone better, especially in Q3. But yeah, I am pretty happy.

Q: Do you realise that if you score points tomorrow you would be the youngest driver ever to do so?
No, I was not aware of that. Sure I have the sound ambition to score points, but more important for me is to finish tomorrow’s race.

Q: The first corner will be crucial - does that make you nervous?
True, you approach this corner quite fast and it could get quite tight. But as the others are no idiots and know what they are doing, I am not concerned at all about it.