Q&A with Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel 06 Jun 2009
Some would have you believe that the 2009 drivers championship is already a two-horse race - between Brawns Jenson Button and Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel. They were certainly the men to beat in qualifying at Istanbul Park, with the German edging out the Briton for pole. And given that only the pole man has ever won here, Vettel looks to be sitting pretty for Sundays race
Q: Sebastian, after yesterdays trouble in practice you bounced back with a fantastic performance that got you straight to pole position. Did you expect that after yesterdays troubles?
Sebastian Vettel: Absolutely not. Yesterday I was able to do only a few laps so I had very little time to feel the car, but when I got into the car today I had a good feeling from the very beginning - and that was very important. In the morning session we concentrated more on the race set-up and that went well. The only uncertainty was how qualifying would go - and that went perfectly, so this should mean for the race that Im in pretty good shape.
Q: Could it be that your car is very light?
SV: No, I dont think that my car is different to the others in the front of the grid. I think that I simply have a very fast car.
Q: Is the pole a sign for a race win? In previous years the pole sitter always won the race here
SV: Pole means a good omen for a race win, as its the best position here where you can start the race. But its a long race! The Brawns behind me will be fast for sure and it will be difficult to keep them there, but I am confident as we have a fast car too.
Q: Lets come back to your Monaco race. With your retiring, the gap to Button and Barrichello in the drivers championship widened. What feelings go with that race in hindsight? Could it have been a preliminary decider for the championship?
SV: In Monaco we did a big mistake having the wrong strategy, so the race was already lost after the first short stint. And our main rival Brawn GP did no mistake at all - so there you have the result.
Q: So your plan must be to attack Jenson here
SV: Oh, I dont have anything against Jenson so Im not planning to attack him - but of course on the race track I will fight him. We are here to fight and the season is still long and we have not given up believing that we can do it. If you look at the score board there is a big gap, yes, but still everything is possible.
Q: Some drivers believe that Brawn GP have still performance up their sleeves that they can activate when needed. Do you think that is the case?
SV: You have to ask them. So far without doubt they are the most competitive team, they have an extremely fast car and they have been doing no big mistakes, so they fully deserve the points that they have. If they still have something up their sleeves? Gee, I hope not!
Q: More or less exactly two years ago you came into Formula One and now you are fighting for the championship. How exciting is that?
SV: Well, I started with a small team and we didnt have the most competitive car, so now is a completely different story and the targets that you have. But in the end my target was always to win - thats why I am here. I cannot say that I am completely excited now, I mean I am very happy being in this position as I have been working very hard and the team has been working very hard, so I would say Im in a comfortable situation, but we must not lose focus as its a very long road that we have to go.
Q: How realistic is it to become the youngest ever champion with Red Bull?
SV: I dont care about the youngest or the oldest world champion, if your target is to win races and win the championship. Sure, I would like to see it happen rather now than later, but in the end its all about winning - this is the only thing that matters and not how old I might be.
Q: But can you win the championship with a Red Bull car?
SV: I can tell you after Abu Dhabi. Its still a long season. Sure the favourites are now Brawn GP and in particular Jenson, but who knows whats going to happen. If they keep on performing like they do now and keep winning every single race until Abu Dhabi then there is no doubt that they will walk away with the title. But thats a maybe - it also could be maybe not. For us that means that we have to look at ourselves - we havent always done our best in the past and used our potential, but our target is clearly to do so. Sometimes it just doesnt work the way you want it. Two years ago some five or six races to the end nobody had Kimi (Raikkonen) on the list to win the championship and then one point was enough for him to clinch the title - thats racing. It always writes its own history.
Q: Do you see the championship going all the way to Abu Dhabi? The way it looks right now it might already be decided earlier than that
SV: This is very difficult to answer because this season seems to be way out of the normal. A good car is a good car. Brawn had a good car in Australia and they will have a good car in Abu Dhabi. But there is no doubt that with the regulation changes everybody is at the beginning of the car development. Look for example at Ferrari: at the first race they were far behind, but at the last two races theyve been quite competitive, so if they are able to repeat that big leap forward they are in the front. Things can change very quickly. If you look at the grid of Monaco or Barcelona the pole time was only about 1.2 or 1.3 seconds faster then the last position on the grid. That time gap would have meant in 2003 or 2004 that you are in midfield or even better. Things have changed very much in the last year. Brawn is at the top, but the gaps are so tight that a little slowing down of the development speed could change grid and results immediately.