Sebastian Vettel Q&A: We took risks and got rewarded 29 May 2011
Who can stop Sebastian Vettel? Right now the answer seems to be nobody. When the odds were against him on Sunday after a botched first pit stop, the reigning champion took the risky decision to stay out and try to finish the race on one set of tyres. Circumstances fell his way with a red flag six laps from the race end, after which a new set of tyres and a safety-car restart helped him to his first Monaco win
Q: Sebastian, how sweet does the champagne taste here in Monaco?
Sebastian Vettel: Very sweet! And to be honest I didnt get enough on the podium so I will try to get some more at the Energy Station and clink glasses with the team. I think that was quite a race for the fans - and it was even more of a thriller from the cockpit. I think nobody had a real clue of what strategy would work here - that does include us as well. It was supposedly not possible to do the race on a one-stop strategy, even though we almost made it - and my guess is that we could have finished it with only two sets of tyres.
Q: So when did the strategy unfold?
SV: Well, the first pit stop was not as perfect as I would have wished. If you sit in the car three or four seconds or more seem endless. It had cost us the lead and at some point the gap to the frontrunner was so big that the victory seemed a distance away. But then the race turned. I was called for pitting, but then we decided that I stay out because in a worst-case scenario I would have finished in P3 and still would have collected valuable points. In that phase I didnt know what strategy Jenson (Button) was running, but all of a sudden there was the safety-car phase that made it all easier for me. The last six laps after the red flag when everybody switched to softs, I just had to bring the win home. Believe me it was no walk in the park to do roughly 60 laps on one set of tyres.
Q: What happened exactly at this botched pit stop?
SV: I think the first front wheel took too long to get on, which lost us one place to Jenson and he was able to pull away on a different compound. There are so many pit stops this season and we have all managed to do them with bravery - today was our first and only mistake. Overall it was a fantastic job from the team, to take risks with me.
Q: To battles wheel-to-wheel last weekend in Barcelona with Lewis Hamilton and today with Fernando Alonso: how do you keep your nerves so strong?
SV: Let me give you an example: here in Monaco it is almost impossible to overtake and everybody who did it today in the race was punished with losing parts so I knew that it makes no sense to push to the limit 20 or 30 laps to the chequered flag, so I tried to save my tyres and concentrate on the really crucial laps towards the end of the race - and that worked out for me. After the red flag and the new soft tyres everything worked a bit easier, but my guess up to this point was that we would have had another six laps in the tyres, so it would have worked out also without that restart behind the safety car. We took quite some risks today - and got rewarded.
Q: What was going through your mind when you saw that chaos on lap 69 with all the parts on the track and two parked cars?
SV: It was a real mess. A lot of cars are ahead of you and of course they are getting the blue flag as a signal that the race leader is approaching them - but they are also fighting for positions so you have to try and find the gap, knowing that there are two guys behind you on better tyres just waiting to overtake you. So you take whatever gap opens and honestly I didnt see that much of the crashes. There was a car in the wall in Turn 12, one in Turn 14 and again in Turn 16, I saw Lewis with a broken rear wing. It was really crazy - madness at one stage - but we managed to keep the car in one piece and found our way through.
Q: After your first Monaco win and a nerve-wracking two hours, how do you see the six wins that Ayrton Senna had here?
SV: Sure no discussion that Ayrtons six wins and Graham Hills five victories are phenomenal. This race was always a bit crazy - and today was the best example of that. And we have seen that the race is only finished when the chequered flag is waved. It is a big honour to now have my name among the other Monaco winners and be part of the Monaco race history.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.