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A race weekend with…Sebastian Vettel 26 Aug 2008

Sebastian Vettel (GER), Toro Rosso, Toro Rosso STR3, British Grand Prix 2008, Silverstone, Sunday, 6 July 2008. © Martin Trenkler / Reporter Images Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03 leads Jarno Trulli (ITA) Toyota TF108.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, European Grand Prix, Race, Valencia, Spain, Sunday, 24 August 2008 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso STR03.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, European Grand Prix, Qualifying Day, Valencia, Spain, Saturday, 23 August 2008 (L to R): Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso with Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Ferrari  on the drivers parade.
Formula One World Championship, Rd 12, European Grand Prix, Race Day, Valencia, Spain, Sunday, 24 August 2008 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Scuderia Toro Rosso.
Formula One Testing, Day One, Jerez, Spain, 22 July 2008

Toro Rosso’s Sebastian Vettel may have only started 20 Grands Prix so far in his Formula One career, but he has already developed something of a routine when it comes to his race weekend.

We caught up with Vettel in Valencia, following this weekend's European Grand Prix, to get a few tips on the calendar’s top nightlife, his favourite places to stay, who he likes to socialise with during an event and how he winds down after a race…

Q: We were in Valencia this weekend, what did you think of the city?
Sebastian Vettel:
First, it was a great qualifying and a great race. In fact I know the Valencia race track very well - from my time with Formula BMW - and I also remember completing a license course there too. The street circuit though was obviously new to me and also to everybody else - so nobody had any advantage. I must say it was fantastic to drive here! Maybe this view has been intensified a bit by my good result, but I think my performance over the whole weekend showed that I enjoyed it. And from my previous stays, I had already discovered the charm of the city so I like the idea of having Valencia on the F1 schedule.

Q: You don’t take to the track until Friday morning, but when do you like to fly in?
Usually, if it is not an overseas race, I arrive on the Wednesday night or Thursday morning. But for this particular race I arrived on Wednesday morning to check out the track. I walked the circuit for two laps and did two laps on the scooter, as we had no simulator to get any experience. Obviously my ‘investigation laps’ did the trick.

Q: Do you make an effort to discover your surroundings at a race, or do you stick to the airport-hotel-track-airport itinerary?
Being able to be a tourist during a race weekend is difficult, as time is very limited. Sometimes I find that a bit ridiculous, as we are frequently in fantastic locations and exciting cities like Budapest, Barcelona or Shanghai and you don’t really know where you are. But when you are at the track from morning to evening, the best you can do is go to a nice restaurant in the evening. But more often you just head back to your hotel and simply go to bed because you are tired.

Q: What’s your exercise regime over a race weekend? Does it vary according to the race location, demands of the circuit etc?
The regime is more or less always the same. As Friday and Saturday are crammed with race action, the only real exercise time is on Sunday morning, when I do some light training to wake up.

Q: What’s your preferred accommodation at races - city hotel, hotel near the circuit, your own motorhome near the paddock?
I do have my own motorhome but I use it mainly for testing, while on race weekends I like to stay in nice hotels. The best is to be as close as possible to the race track and as close as possible to the city.

Q: Anything you have to have provided in your hotel room or any luxuries you always bring with you from home?
Apart from personal belongings like toothbrush, clothes, underwear, computer and iPod, I don’t need much over a race weekend as my team gear is always travelling with the team.

Q: Do you enjoy entertaining friends and family during a race weekend?
When it is convenient, it is nice to have friends and family around. For the European events, my parents are often at the races.

Q: Do you get the chance to go out and socialize on Friday and Saturday night?
Again when it is possible. At Hockenheim, as it is very close to where I grew up, I had many friends at the track and in the evening we played football and had a really good time.

Q: Are there any drivers you particularly like hanging out with?
Actually, the time that you spend with other drivers is very limited and the bottom line is that, like in real life, there are some that you like and others that you like less. There are two or three I get along quite well with: Timo (Glock), as he comes from a similar area in Germany, Kimi (Raikkonen) and Heikki (Kovalainen).

Q: Your favorite race for nightlife?
Japan and Hungary. But I am so new to this business you should ask me again in a couple of years and then I will probably be able to make a better judgment.

Q: What’s the best night out you’ve had at a Grand Prix? And have you ever overslept the next morning?
It was Japan last year - the race was not so great, but the night after was quite funny.

Q: What do you have for breakfast on a race Sunday?
Usually I have a lot for breakfast - all kind of cereals, muesli, bread, yoghurt, and lots of fruits.

Q: How much do you drink over a race weekend? And what?
I drink mainly water but also special drinks with minerals and carbohydrates. My guess is about five to six litres.

Q: How do you spend the morning on race Sunday?
Well, I get up and do some light exercising, then I have breakfast - as described above - then I go to the circuit. And once there the Sunday routine takes over, which includes media work, the drivers’ parade, some lunch, so that I have something in my stomach, and then it’s time to get dressed for the race.

Q: How do you like to get to the circuit on Sunday morning? Do you drive yourself?
Mostly I drive myself, but sometimes my physio or other team members drive.

Q: How do you like to spend the hour or so before the race? Any superstitions or pre-race rituals you always go through to bring you luck?
No rituals. The only important thing is that I have to have ten to fifteen minutes for myself to focus, relax and calm down, whilst listening to some music that I like. Basically I spend the time going through different things - our strategy, our target, the car and the circuit.

Q: Do you have a lucky charm?
Not one - many! I have a little metal pig that is always in the pocket of my race overall. And I have a one cent coin that I found on the street on race Sunday last year in Indianapolis - at my first F1 race. Since then it has travelled with me.

Q: What do you do to stay calm as you’re sat on the grid awaiting the formation lap?
The thing that calms me down most is the walk to the toilet.

Q: How do you wind down after the race?
That really depends on the result. If it’s good, then you are extremely happy. If not, then not! We have a meeting straight after the race to review everything while it is still fresh in our minds. Then I usually have a light meal with my engineers and mechanics.

Q: If things don’t go your way and you retire early, do you prefer to get away as soon as possible, or hang out and watch the rest of the race?
I have to wait until the meeting so I have to stay. But it’s true if it was a lousy race, I would love to go home immediately.