Sebastian Vettel Q&A: One hundred percent satisfaction 11 Apr 2011
Sebastian Vettel has made the perfect start to 2011, with two wins from two races. Its not many world champions who get to pick up where they left off following their title triumph, and the German is feeling suitably satisfied. Nevertheless, he and his Red Bull team know they cannot afford to rest on their laurels, especially given the KERS issues that hit the RB7 at Sepang
Q: Sebastian, would you have ever guessed that you would lead the championship so clearly after only two races?
Sebastian Vettel: Dont get me wrong, I am delighted with how its worked out for me so far, but weve only completed two races so any thoughts about the championship would be premature. Of course it is important to bag every single point that I come across - I have learned that from last year when one fourth place made the difference - but I dont think further than that. Having won two out of 19 races doesnt say anything about the outcome of the title battle, as there is more to gain in the remaining 17 races than in the two we have done so far. I am not a maths genius, but I can figure that out myself! What is really promising is that we have a great reliability, whereas we were struggling a bit last year at this stage of the season.
Q: Looking back at qualifying and your ride to pole position, had you been hiding the cars real potential in practice, as youd not been anywhere near your pole time?
SV: Absolutely not. In the three practice sessions it obviously didnt work out so well for me, but then I must say that I was satisfied with the car all weekend long and had no problems whatsoever. Its just that probably things didnt click in as they did in qualifying - and that is when it really counted. From the first run Saturday afternoon it worked superbly for me and was systematically building up to the last lap where I did the pole time. It was indeed a close call and I feel pretty satisfied that we started from P1.
Q: You seized your chances one hundred percent in the race - are you also satisfied one hundred percent with how it went for you?
SV: Absolutely! Believe me it is almost impossible to reach a higher satisfaction level than the one I have. Everything went perfectly even though it was a tough race. The McLarens were on our heels at all times, but we did a bit better after the first stint. That was crucial as it gave us the chance to have a look what the others were doing - when they were pitting and which tyres they were choosing. The tyres were key in this race as the degradation was pretty strong and you never knew how hard you could attack so as not to throw away your chances.
Q: We heard you using a secret Red Bull alphabet - mid race you were told by your engineers that you were switching from plan A to plan B. What did that mean?
SV: It was the key letter for one of our pitting strategies. Even now after the race this is all I want to say about it.
Q: One problem in an otherwise flawless race was KERS. You managed to bring home the victory even with KERS issues, but Mark was less fortunate. How alarming is that situation for the next race?
SV: Let me put it this way: for the majority of the race it did work, but it is also no secret that for some parts we had to deactivate it - but we were able to bring it back to working mode again. To find out why it had to be turned off we have to analyze the data. It is definitely something that we have to concentrate on because we know that we will lose lap time when we have to turn it off. But for this race it was paramount that we had it at the start because otherwise I doubt I would have been able to keep my position into the first corner - and the race would have developed significantly differently.
Q: How big was the pressure from Jenson Button throughout the race?
SV: Well, I think that at the beginning of the race it was a bit more, but my impression was that the last stint was a bit more comfortable for us, as we could pace our own race, especially after Lewis (Hamilton) ran into his problems and that gave us a bit more of a buffer. But should that all sound too easy, believe me, it was not! It was still a demanding race and we again learned a lot about the tyres - in hot temperatures our understanding of the tyres was zero before we went into that weekend, but now data is piling up on our technical sheets. Sure, next weekend in China it could be completely different again - thats why we have to be on alert constantly.
Q: Physical fitness is always an issue under such climatic situations. How demanding is it really?
SV: It is always one of the toughest races in terms of physical stress as it is not only the heat, but also the huge humidity that keeps us gasping. Especially in the garages, where there is no air movement, it is hard to bear.
Q: The Chinese Grand Prix is less than a week away - what is the world champion on a lucky streak doing until then?
SV: This will probably sound disappointing, but I was really looking forward to going to sleep early after the race, then taking a day off before heading to Shanghai and starting my training again on Tuesday and Wednesday before we all meet at the track again on Thursday. So there is not a lot of time to take a deep breath.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.