Sebastian Vettel exclusive: Luscious Liz must prove herself 11 Mar 2010
He is being hotly tipped for the 2010 title and many men his age might cave under the pressure. Not so Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel, who has arrived in Bahrain looking cool and relaxed. This season there are four champions on the grid. For next season the German wants to make sure he is the fifth. His hopes rest with Luscious Liz, aka the Red Bull RB6, as he explained to Formula1.com
Q: Sebastian, you are heading into your third season and the saying goes third time lucky. Do you believe in proverbs?
Sebastian Vettel: If it turns out to be a positive season then I believe in it. If not, then its BS! Its a long way to go, a lot of things have changed and so the racing will change. But we dont know yet how much, so everything will look different to last year. Nineteen races seems an endless marathon, so we will see.
Q: Compared to 2009 with Brawn as the only real challenger, this years race to the title looks set to be more crowded. The fact is you want to win, the team wants to win - but does the car know that?
SV: Well, Ive given it a name - Luscious Liz - so I will tell her. But yes, its true: it looks very close and we have to see who makes the most of the completely different conditions that we will be faced with at the first four races. Here we will have around 35 degrees air temperature and 50 degrees track temperature and we tested at conditions not even half as warm. The indication that weve got from testing is not bad, but there are three other teams out there that will heavily challenge us. It all looks very exciting, especially for the fans at the track and at home in front of the telly - and on Saturday we all will be a little wiser about the pecking order. I see four teams at the top - that makes eight eligible drivers for the title - but I dont think that three races before Abu Dhabi we still will see all eight drivers interlocked in the fight for the crown. Instead over the course of the season we will see who is top and who is not.
Q: You have a tradition of giving your cars female names. Do females tend to do what you want?
SV: Well, I dont have a magic hand or magic stick or anything of that kind but the experience of the past has shown that it somehow worked out for me. And to be honest, I would find it rather strange to give the car a male name, or to see the car as something masculine.
Q: When did the name Luscious Liz for this years car pop into your mind?
SV: At the first test I really started to go through a couple of names and I like the name Liz and Luscious Liz fits quite well, I think. Its an attractive car, its quick and successful. But the main attribute naturally should be that shes bl**dy quick.
Q: So is Liz so much better than Kate (the RB5) was last year?
SV: We will see. Kate and Kates dirty little sister did a very good job so Liz has to prove herself.
Q: What kind of taste did finishing as 2009 runner-up leave in your mouth?
SV: A bitter taste. The worst moment was the race in Brazil. It was a good race - considering where we started and where we ended up - but what it meant was not very sweet. Anyway, we had to swallow it and did a great job in Abu Dhabi two weeks later. Second place is surely not what I want to achieve. Sure there is only one place better than second, but that is exactly where I want to be at the end of this year. Of course I cannot promise anything, but be sure that I will work my socks off to get there.
Q: Your team principal Christian Horner said that you are a complete driver and that you have all the makings of a champion. Does that sooth the soul, especially given the missed chances last year?
SV: Its good to hear - but on the other hand it doesnt make me quicker. It is good to know that the team - Christian and the engineers - are behind me. That is key. But nevertheless you have to fight hard and try to improve yourself and be open for criticism.
Q: How much time and effort did you put into analyzing last season?
SV: Some things happened during the season, and we knew exactly what it was so you dont need much time to analyze. But of course we sat down and went through race by race and tried to identify the things that had an impact. We have been studying a lot last year and we understood a couple of things. Its no secret that if we hadnt had five retirements then the final counting would have been completely different. I was missing 11 points, so the chance to score 12 points in five races wasnt an impossible thing.
Q: Did all the analysis conclude you should have won the title last year?
SV: Well, everything happens for a reason, and obviously we didnt win for a reason. Brawn started the season with a dominating car - from seven races Jenson (Button) won six - so the championship was kind of decided already back then and when we had the chance to score more points than Jenson we sometimes didnt grab it, for various reasons. Now you can start to say that if we had been better here or there we would have but that is crying over spilled milk and thats not our philosophy.
Q: You went through a steep learning process last year. What was it in particular that you learned?
SV: We never mucked-up a race - we always got the maximum out of it but in the end it wasnt enough and it was up to us to understand. Surely we were lacking consistency - either from mistakes from my side or the teams side - but it is not about blaming anybody, its about finding out and fixing it. For the first time we were in a situation to fight for the title and sometimes mistakes creep in. We had some issues with the engine - and this can happen - but if you want to win the title it should not happen to you. You can go next door and ask Michael (Schumacher) what happened to him in 2006. He was leading in Japan - two races to go - and he had an engine blow-up which potentially cost him the championship. So its not always the fastest who wins the championship but it is the package: cleverness, a good strong car, reliability and sometimes - when you have no chance to win - bringing the car home in fourth or fifth and collecting the points. You are not proud of being second - thats nothing to be proud of. When I am around 50 or 60-years-old and not racing anymore probably I might look back thinking that it was a good season - youve collected quite an amount of points and won some races - but all matters in the end are championship wins. So far I have zero championships, and we are here to change that.
Q: You talk about being 50 or 60 - but what will you be doing when you are 41, like Michael?
SV: Ah, thats why I said 50 or 60! I have no idea. You can ask any 21-year-old and he would not have an idea what will happen when hes almost twice as old. Its so far away. I only can say that I am extremely happy now: I enjoy what I am doing, I wouldnt want to be anywhere else - not this year, not next year, not in the foreseeable future
Q: How is it for you to race against somebody who is almost double your age?
SV: When I look in my mirror and see whatever kind of car or colour or helmet, I dont see if the guys old or not - it does not make any difference. What he is bringing to the table is a huge amount of experience - and experience comes with age. Hes not 20 anymore but I dont think thats a problem. Life is not over when you are 40!
Q: Does he have a chance against you?
SV: Hopefully not, but we definitely have him on the list. But not only him
- also Nico(Rosberg). But lets be real - right now we are at race one and it does not make too much sense to always talk about the championship. We have to go step by step and race by race and if after five races we realize that we are not in a position to fight for the championship anymore, then you set yourself new targets. The target for now is to win this race, so lets see.