Exclusive Q&A with Toro Rossos Sebastian Vettel 10 Jun 2008
With four DNFs and a 17th-place finish his only results from the first five races, Sebastian Vettels start to the 2008 season had been far from ideal, until his fortunes were transformed by a worthy fifth place in Monaco.
The Toro Rosso driver's resurgence in Monte Carlo, however, seemed to falter on Saturday in Canada, when he was forced to miss qualifying after hitting a wall in practice. But despite starting the Montreal race from the pit lane, the 20 year-old managed to fight back in spectacular style and finish in the points. We caught up with him to find out more
Q: This weekend was your first encounter with the Montreal track. How did you like it?
Sebastian Vettel: I like it. Its one of those tracks that has a lot of soul, character and tradition - like Monza or Spa. And its hellish difficult to drive, with all the chicanes and kerbs. I have experienced it the hard way
Q: What happened to you during Saturdays free practice session?
SV: I lost the car at Turn Eight and Nine. In Turn Eight I used too much inside kerb, which in turn put me again on the inside for the next corner. I lost the car, tried to catch it, caught it, but when I had it back, there was nowhere to go so I ended up in the wall. At first I did not know what that meant, but as the damage was quite extensive - unfortunately, a wall is not very forgiving at all - it became clear that I would miss qualifying. As I consequence I started from the pit lane. The only good thing was that on Friday the car felt very good, behaved excellently, had good speed and seemed to be competitive. So with a little luck and much heart I had the feeling that a point result would be within reach. But then again the conditions were very difficult, with the asphalt peeling off, so my wishful thinking was pure speculation.
Q: To race a new car in Monaco was risky but it paid off with your fifth place. I could imagine that nobody was more surprised than you to finish with four points
SV: Yeah, thats true. To introduce a new car in Monaco was risky. I am not sure if it has ever been done before but we had to bring it to the track as soon as possible because every lap, every practice session that we do as drivers gives us more experience and the engineers more data. So coming to Montreal with the Monaco result helped me and the team.
Q: So how is the new car different to the STR2?
SV: Its a completely new car. Aerodynamically its a big step forward, and now we are working to find the right mechanical balance. I think that when we are back in Europe - at Magny Cours and Silverstone - then we will see the true colours of the STR3. I can tell that its not easier to drive than the STR2. When I look at the onboard cameras of some other cars, its clear those guys have something to do also, but it seems that I have to work a little harder.
Q: Before your successes in Monaco and Montreal, you had scored only four retirements and a 17th-place finish. Had a touch of self doubt crept into your psyche before Monte Carlo?
SV: Self doubt? Never! The first four races, when we had those first-lap incidents, was something completely out of my reach - so why rack my brains over it. I simply focused on the next race. The first real chance for me was Monaco and I took it with both hands. And in Montreal I scored one point, although the last 10 laps didn't make my life easy as the cars I had behind were quite strong. Thats all that matters.
Q: Why do you believe some youngsters struggle when they are promoted to Formula One racing?
SV: Well I guess that depends on the person. Some drivers are probably more sensitive than others are. It also depends on the situation - who is your team mate, what team are you racing for etc. Its a totally different start to your Formula One career if you start with one of the top teams, than for a team that is struggling - or maybe a smaller team. For example, if you finish sixth with one of the top cars that is considered a poor result, as everybody knows that the car is good for a higher position. But if you finish sixth with our car its a good result. It is very difficult to judge the real potential of a new driver.
Q: Over the winter it was reported that McLaren were interested in you. Wasnt it tempting to join them?
SV: Of course my target one day is to race for one of the big teams because I am not here to just participate, to enjoy the life and see different countries - I am here to race. It was a real honour that a team like McLaren was interested in me at that stage - probably it will happen again!
Q: The teams future is still somewhat unclear
SV: I know a little bit of the internal situation so I am very confident. My focus is only for this year and so I dont have any concerns.