Exclusive Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Its nice to be part of history 25 Apr 2009
This season Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel seems to be an all or nothing kind of driver. In the first two races he scored zero points, before dominating the wet Chinese Grand Prix from start to finish. On Sunday in Bahrain hell start from P3 on the grid with an enviable fuel load on board his RB5. Things are looking good again for the German
Q: Sebastian, how was qualifying for you? Holding P3 on the grid but clocking the fastest time of the day in Q2 - are you satisfied?
Sebastian Vettel: It was good. Actually it was the maximum that we could achieve today and I am very happy. The car feels good so I am confident. As you could see in Q1 and 2 the car was really very quick. In Q3 the Toyotas were just a little bit too quick for us. Tomorrow we will see about the fuel loads - how heavy they were. The rest we will see in the race. It will be a very tough one - very tough on the brakes and also on the driver.
Q: In little over seven months you have delivered two, rather unexpected, maiden wins for Red Bull - last year in Monza for Toro Rosso and in Shanghai for Red Bull Racing. How does that feel?
SV: It feels fantastic. Especially being the one who gave both teams their maiden wins. It is so good to see the joy in the eyes of the team when you are on the podium after the chequered flag, and you know that they have worked as hard as you did to be where you are now. And also sometime in the future when I am grey and old it will be nice to be a part of a teams history.
Q: At a time when everybody thought that the three diffuser teams would run away with the podiums and big points, Red Bull comes along and delivers a one-two victory. How surprising was that for you?
SV: China was a circuit that we liked in particular; it suited us better than the two circuits before and I do like it very much as well. We were strong all weekend long, as we managed to get pole in dry conditions, and we were very strong in wet conditions the year before. On the day we were fighting very hard, kept pushing and were able to beat all the others. So we can clearly say that it was our day. In the end we have a big target that we are working very hard for, and that is to become world champions. And there is still a long way to go.
Q: Shanghai opened the door for much speculation about how competitive the RB5 could be with a double diffuser. Is that something that is going through your mind?
SV: I have to clarify some things here. Williams, Toyota and Brawn GP in particular have built very good cars and have done a very good job over the winter. On top of that the double diffuser helps to gain an advantage, and this is why they deserve to be where they are. We also made a good step forward and I hope that we are still able to move forward. Back in Milton Keynes everybody in the factory is working very hard to introduce new parts to the car, whether it is a new diffuser or other parts. The most important thing this season is to improve the car steadily, otherwise you will not be competitive for much longer. This years car is is still at the beginning of its development, and we cant waste a single second.
Q: Technical chief Adrian Newey has said that the diffuser upgrade will not happen before Monaco. What does that mean for the next two races? And how convinced are you that the upgrade will work, given that you cannot test it? The car seems to be perfect the way it is now
SV: We will have some minor improvements coming up, but nothing big before that. It will be nothing important, maybe add a little gurney but nothing obvious like a change at the rear or to the front wing. But these little changes sometimes might have the effect that the car feels completely different, but you do not see the changes at first sight. It might also be that these kinds of modifications are a step backward, and then it is important that you are honest with yourself and go back to where you were before and change the direction. The car itself is not perfect, but it is nice to drive and most importantly it is quick. In general it is not easy to drive, and you are fighting constantly, so there always room for improvement. The car can improve on the circuit, I can improve in the car, and this is why Adrian and the team are pushing very hard to push us forward.
Q: Coming back to Shanghai, can you review the race? Obviously everything worked perfectly: the car, the strategy, and the driver. The whole race looked like a walk in the park for you, although the conditions were far from ideal. When did you start to believe that you could really pull it off?
SV: I never thought that it was a walk in the park, but I did believe on Sunday morning when I woke up that it was possible to win this race. When you are running in first place it is key that you have to be confident in yourself, and really believe that you can make it. I did not doubt for a single second, and obviously a race is very long and anything can happen. We started behind the safety car and we had a lighter strategy than the others, so we had to come in earlier. The safety car pulled in at some stage and these couple of laps were enough to create a gap to benefit us for the rest of the race, which was a key element to the win. Also, after the second safety-car phase I was able to create a gap to the following cars, which gave me some kind of a comfort zone. In the last five laps I tried to nurse the car around the track and be as careful as possible, as it was very difficult to drive with all the standing water and aquaplaning.
Q: After last weekend many see you as a potential championship contender. Do you feel comfortable with such predictions?
SV: We only have finished three races, and mathematically any driver is still a championship contender. China was just a step on the ladder, and the team knows exactly where it wants to go and I know where I want to go. So this together makes us push very hard, and we want to win more races and fight for the championship.
Q: KERS was a huge topic before the start of the season, but in Shanghai only three cars were running it. Red Bull havent yet bothered with it yet. Was that a wise decision? SV: We will use it, but I still do not know when this will be. We have not tested KERS, but the moment you commit you will most likely race it. We are considering running KERS in the future - we dont say that we dont need it or dont want it at all. If you look at McLaren, they have been using it since the start of the season and they wouldnt use it if it had no benefit. So there is potential.