Q&A with Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel 10 Feb 2009
Sebastian Vettel had the pleasure of giving the new Red Bull its first run at Jerez on Monday - but it turned out to be quite a short-lived pleasure, the car completing just a handful of laps before rising gearbox temperatures brought a halt to proceedings. But it takes more than a minor setback to dampen Vettels spirits and the German is confident the RB5s bold design philosophy will be rewarded with strong results
Q: Sebastian, you had the honour of rolling out the RB5. It has already been deemed the most beautiful 2009 car to date, but how was the driving?
Sebastian Vettel: So far everything has been fine. Unfortunately I was not able to do a lot of mileage, but the feeling for the car was great - and the look is awesome! I will have the chance to drive the RB5 again on day two and four so that should give me a pretty good idea - so ask me again on Thursday.
Q: Some drivers claim they can judge the true colours of a new car the moment they drive it out of the pits. How did this one feel?
SV: Well, thats hard to say as we did not do a lot of running today - and not at full speed. Very early in the day we faced a problem with the gearbox. The temperature went high and we did not exactly know why and so decided to stop the car as it is the only RB5 ready for the moment and we didnt want to spoil the whole test.
Q: But were you able to go fast enough to get an idea of the change in downforce compared to last year?
SV: At the tests at the end of last year we were trying to run similar (downforce) to what we have this year. At the moment the car is in a stage where it is more important to do some running to check the systems, so it is obviously not the final version, but it doesnt feel bad at all. It doesnt seem to be a big problem although it is weird if you look at the size of the rear wing. That sure is very different, but inside the car it is pretty similar.
Q: The much wider front wing - could that become a problem in turn one, lap one?
SV: Could be. The front wing is extremely wide and in the first couple of laps I was afraid of hitting the curbs, but then it turned out to be no problem. But, sure, if you are racing you need to remember that your front wing is quite a bit wider than in the past. I think it is easy to touch someone without noticing - and then of course you realize that your front wing is gone.
Q: How frustrating is it that you have waited for months to get your hands on the new car and then the first day didnt go to plan?
SV: It is not frustrating, but at the same time it is clearly not what we expected, so it was not a successful day and so we are not happy. We were working very hard last night to get it ready for the roll-out and we had to decide to stop, but we will definitely get more running in the next few days. It was good to shake down the car today even though we should have run more than we did, but thats life.
Q: How many days of running will the car get before Melbourne in order to eliminate any teething problems?
SV: 16 days. That should be plenty - and its the same for all the other teams. Sure, we must not forget that time is very valuable these days, as testing is very limited.
Q: It seems every other phrase uttered by Red Bull team principal Christian Horner is now that Sebastian Vettel is driving for us suggesting that with you on board the team are totally focused and success is just around the corner. Doesnt that place a lot of pressure on you?
SV: They better be! We have to be focused to be successful. I want to be successful, the team wants to be successful - I know that the team wants to be successful. I believe we have great potential. We just launched our car, but its too early to say if its good or not straight away but I believe that everybody is very motivated and willing to go the distance - thats what we are here for. I dont feel more pressure, but I feel that I have quite a bit influence in the team, which is good, so I am trying to use it at my best.
Q: So you are the alpha male of the team?
SV: I dont see it like that. I see Formula One as a team sport where every single individual matters, from team principal to truckie. Either you function as a whole or you dont function at all.
Q: Three teams have decided to go to Bahrain to test because they think that the higher temperatures will provide more useful data for the new slick tyres. Do you think that testing in Europe could be a problem - as it was in December - if you dont get enough experience with these tyres?
SV: True, it was too cold in December when we tested the last time, particularly in terms of the tyres. We faced conditions that you never face the whole year. That is why I think it is a smart move to go to Bahrain to test there, but obviously it is also more expensive than testing here in Europe. Today with sun and close to 20 degrees it was okay. But, true, the risk here in Europe is much higher as we saw at the December test in Portugal - you ruin four days of testing just because of bad weather conditions.
Q: You have two new helmet designs. Whats the story behind those?
SV: I usually have the same design - the Red Bull can. But on top of that I like to play around and change. It is the top and the front area that I always try to give a different look - mixing up styles, looking for fancy motifs that come my way when my helmet designer and I put our brains together.