Exclusive Vettel Q&A: we're the hunters, we have to push 24 Jul 2009
Although Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel would much rather be in Jenson Buttons commanding position in the championship, hes enjoying the thrill of the title hunt. And with his RB5 looking stronger and stronger at every race, the German is feeling pretty confident that it wont let him down in Budapest, despite the high temperatures
Q: Sebastian, when you moved from Toro Rosso to Red Bull Racing and not to one of the so-called top teams, some said they believed it to be a waste of your talent. Now you are in the running for the championship. Would you have ever guessed that could happen?
Sebastian Vettel: Well, no. Its impossible to predict something like that. If I was able to predict the future so well, I probably would make my money - more money - in another profession. Of course inside the team we were confident over the winter that the car was very good, but in the end you never know, until you take it to the track to race it. When we went to Australia we saw that we were very competitive, and from there on in we have made a lot of steps forward, which put us in the position where we are now. And honestly Im feeling very comfortable in the position I am in now. I can race in the position I want to race, which is at the front. And for the team it is fantastic too. If you look back at the last five years the team has had difficult times, not being very successful, and now finally the breakthrough has come at the right time.
Q: Success changes everything. How is the transition from the Heppenheim home town boy to a public figure?
SV: I dont really see a big transition. I am who I am. I was raised in a good way by my parents, I know what is right and what is wrong - or I should know by now, at least. Ive had a lot of experience in motorsport, Ive learned with every single day, and that pretty much describes Formula One: you have to learn during every single moment if you want to be successful. For sure all the media attention's a lot greater, but at the end of the day I try to focus on what really matters. I try not to get distracted by the things that go on around me - I focus on racing and so far it has served me well.
Q: Silverstone and Nurburgring were real bonanzas for Red Bull Racing, with one-two finishes at each. Is Red Bull the number one power on the grid at the moment?
SV: At the last two races we were, but that is something that you never can take for granted. We have come here to Hungary facing a totally different circuit and completely different weather conditions, so this in itself is a big challenge. I predict it will be a tight fight for the win on Sunday because its not just the Brawns against us. I also see that other teams have improved over the last couple of races like Williams, Ferrari and McLaren. They will also have a good chance here. Hungary has always been a closer battle than elsewhere. Qualifying will be very important here and the start on Sunday will be quite critical, as we have seen that the KERS cars do have an advantage. So I hope on Lap One that I will be out of their reach.
Q: It seems to be a fight between the cold-blooded RB5 and the warm-blooded BGP001. Has the Red Bull overcome its deficit in hot conditions?
SV: I dont really think that we ever had a weakness. This whole temperature argument has been pushed a bit too much. In the end a good car is a good car. Ive not been so long in Formula One, but you have seen that in the last ten years that if a car was quick at the beginning it was also competitive midseason and at the end of the season. A good car is a good car. Period. The Brawn is a good car for sure, but we are also in a good way. It will be a tough fight and unfortunately when looking at the points we are quite far behind, but weve still got enough races ahead to change that. Thats what we are here for.
Q: So youre not worried that weather could eventually dictate the championship?
SV: Not really. Its true that the last two races have been cooler, but in the end you have to get more right to succeed than just banking on the temperature. You can ask all the drivers, all the teams. It is not easy to get everything right over a race weekend and we have succeeded very well over the last two races, and probably Brawn GP has not. In the end it doesnt take much to make a big difference, sometimes the little things are the ones that make you win or lose a race. We have to see every race separately and try to do our best. We are in the hunting position so we have to push.
Q: Do you like being a hunter?
SV: I wouldnt mind swapping the position with Jenson, if you look at the points. But life is like this and we know where we want to go.
Q: Speaking of the championship, Red Bull team principal Christian Horner said that both drivers will be treated equally. In the past, other teams who have tried to treat their drivers equally have lost out. At what point will Red Bull Racing move to favour one driver?
SV: The key is that we have to finish ahead of our competitors to score more points and chase them down. Of course, at some point it makes sense, if there is the chance to help your team mate - and it doesnt matter if it is Mark helping me or vice versa. But dont get me wrong: my clear goal is to win. It is difficult to say, because at the end of the championship it is easy to say you should have done this and you would have scored more points, and this would have made you win the championship. But the fact is that you have to approach every single race and we are operating as a team. For sure Ill try everything to beat every other driver - including my team mate. Thats not a secret. There is a certain hype around that topic at the moment but I am sure that things will calm down.
Q: Rubens Barrichellos post-Nurburgring interview might indicate that Brawn is already focusing on one driver. What does that mean for your strategy?
SV: Well, if that is so then in the end you cannot blame them. They know what they are doing and for sure we know whats right for us. There are still eight races to go, but as I said, after 17 races you might look back and think that in the second race you should have acted differently. For sure at one point in the championship you have to commit, but we have not reached that point yet. Lets see where we are at the end of this race. We have some updates, some aero parts to help us, which means another step forward. That is exactly what we need to do - consistently improving the car, making it quicker and chasing our opponents!
Q: After two hot Friday sessions can you draw a conclusion for the race?
SV: Well, Friday is Friday and the times are only an indication of the performance of the teams. What weve seen today was that 19 cars were within one second, so the field is really close together. I havent been totally satisfied with the car today, the balance was not as I would like it to be, but I am sure that we can sort it out for qualifying. Im quite optimistic.