Exclusive interview - Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel 15 May 2008
With four DNFs and a last-place finish at the recent Turkish Grand Prix, Sebastian Vettels start to his first full season in Formula One racing has been far from ideal.
However, the Toro Rosso driver is not letting his troubles get him down. Indeed, with youth on his side, bucket loads of talent, and the new STR3 due at his disposal for the upcoming Monaco Grand Prix, the 20-year-old German is retaining strong ambitions with the Italian team
Q: Sebastian, how annoyed are you with the start to 2008? Im sure you had other ideas about what you wanted from your first full season
Sebastian Vettel: Well, the start of the season was definitely one that I wasnt dreaming of. But on the other hand it was something that was out of our hands - one time we had a technical failure and the other three times there was a collision on the first lap. So I started the Turkish race with the knowledge that if I do two laps its already an increase of 100 percent - and finishing the race was close to a miracle!
Q: Having qualified near the back for most races, it seems youve been in the thick of the danger zone at the start
SV: Yes, danger zone is the right definition for the last two rows of the grid and that goes for every category of racing, starting from karting and going all the way up to Formula One. The concept of starting a race at the back of the grid is very simple: try and pass as many people as possible on the first lap. But sometimes somebody is a bit too optimistic and then you have accidents. Unluckily it hit me three times. How you can escape from there? Very simple - qualify better.
Q: Looking at your qualifying performance at Istanbul, the STR2 has obviously not reached its limits yet. But the race was a different matter
SV: Well, the STR2 had not had a lot of chances this season to truly show its potential - and Istanbul was the last chance to do so. Yes, the qualifying was okay, but the race was another matter. Then again, it is a phased-out model and I am looking forward to the STR3.
Q: So will the STR3 be ready for the Monaco race?
SV: Yes, it looks like it. We keep on postponing but I am pretty convinced that we will be running it in Monaco.
Q: How difficult is it to introduce a new car during a season, especially if the track picked for its debut is as atypical as Monaco?
SV: It is difficult and far from being an ideal situation. But we made the decision at the beginning of the season to start with the old car and I still think it was a good decision, even though we have not been able to show it, as many of our races have been quite short. We now have to get the STR3 going almost mid-season. The data we have gained from that one day in Barcelona before my team mate (Sebastien Bourdais) crashed it have shown that it looks quite reliable straight away. So the Paul Ricard test will be crucial as we will not only prepare for Monaco but also for Montreal, as the track there can be modified to simulate both circuits.
Q: Bourdais crashing the STR3 in Barcelona seems to have signalled a downturn in the teams performance. Was it really that damaging?
SV: Well yes, it cost us a lot of resources. Obviously we are lacking parts - that was the main reason why we were not able to introduce the car already in Turkey. And it was quite a big crash that caused a lot of damage. But it would be wrong to blame my team mate - we are racing drivers and are supposed to go as fast as possible, so a crash is always within reach. If you are not allowed to go fast - to push to the limit - then you should stay at home.
Q: There is a lot of speculation about your future. What are your thoughts on switching teams?
SV: First of all my priority is racing. The start of the season was disappointing, so there is a lot to do and worry about for this year. I am on a mission this season. If that is accomplished, I can start to look at other things.