Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Rule tweaks could hurt rivals more 24 Jun 2011
Sebastian Vettel and his Red Bull crew are fast gaining a reputation for having one of the boldest practice philosophies in the pit lane. Sometimes they choose to run very few laps and other times they run with such a heavy fuel load they look slower than they are, as they seemed to do in Valencia on Friday. Whatever the reasoning, on a Saturday they show their cards and the policy seems to work well, with Vettel taking six poles from 2011's opening seven races. The defending world champion discusses his Friday, rumours about a new team mate and why he believes the engine mapping rule tweak wont hurt his chances
Q: Sebastian, many were a little surprised about your slow times this morning - you were only 16th?
Sebastian Vettel: Probably we were a bit heavier than most others on the track. Isnt that the true meaning of a practice session? You try out things to see what works best at a track?
Q: The second session seemed to give us a bit more of a glimpse of the pecking order. Will Ferrari and McLaren push you hard in qualifying and the race?
SV: Yes, I think what weve seen this afternoon could come close to the reality of Saturday and Sunday even though my guess is nobody has put his cards on the table today. But in general I would say red, blue or silver cars will get it right one way or the other! (laughs)
Q: Have you personally come to terms with the Montreal result?
SV: I do understand those of you who have fond memories of that race, even if it took me a bit of time to see the beauty of the event. But now, after I have had some time to reflect, I have to say that the fans must have had a great time.
Q: We saw in Montreal that McLaren are already very close to Red Bull. Do you agree?
SV: I would say that already from the start of the season the gap was marginal in the race and only depended on the different circuits. At some tracks weve been a bit more dominant - like for example in Australia - but at other circuits it was really tight, and I expect that to be the case this weekend. Last year we did pretty well here, so lets wait and see. There are tracks where our car is doing better and some tracks that support other drivers and cars.
Q: Last year you took a pretty impressive win here. Could you repeat this victory?
SV: First of all I like this track - it's right beside the sea and the harbour. It is a lot of fun racing here, even though it is not one of the easiest circuits. Its a bit of a crossover between Canada and Monaco. There are some substantial straights and at the same time some very slow corners, so you are working the brakes like you do in Monaco. This year has shown that we do well on all tracks, whether they are particularly to our liking or not, so the weekend should look good.
Q: This weekend will be the first time that you have to start the race with the engine mapping you used in qualifying. What exactly does that mean for you?
SV: That is much too complicated to explain. The most important thing is that I dont see too much of a downside for us. At the moment there is a big fuss about it and I think that it is a step backwards, but as for suffering, no, I dont see that. Probably for the cars which have been constructed around the option of changing from qualifying to race - maybe Mercedes or Renault - but for us it will be just like for everybody else.
Q: You have claimed six pole positions so far this season and the only one you didnt achieve was taken by your team mate mark Webber. So Red Bull must be doing something right with their engine mapping in qualifying
SV: I am not aware that we have done something special and as the communication in our team is excellent I am sure I would have heard something about a magic tune-up! But there is no such miracle. Historically we have always been good in qualifying, so yes, it will be interesting to see how much really changes, but my guess is that it will not be in any way massive.
Q: Some have the impression that the FIA is desperately trying to get a more balanced grid. It is very unusual to have a regulation change in the middle of the season
SV: You'll have to ask the FIA what they want to achieve with this change. But, indeed, to have such a change mid season is out of the ordinary.
Q: It was the talk of the town in Montreal that McLaren driver Lewis Hamilton paid a visit to the Red Bull hospitality to meet with team principal Christian Horner. Some German media have already photoshopped an image of Hamilton in Red Bull overalls. What are your thoughts?
SV: Well, I dont think that it suits him. We are so used to Lewis in the McLaren gear! If somebody else had popped into our facilities the fuss would just have another name, so it doesnt make much sense to talk about these issues now, even if you guys like to provoke such topics. It is still early in the year so theres no need to start the silly season prematurely!
Q: In the eyes of the McLaren drivers it looks as though you cracked under pressure in Montreal. Whats your reply to that?
SV: I have not talked with either of them. But bluntly speaking, it was a long race and there was nobody who didnt make mistakes. I made one and unfortunately it happened on the last lap. Sure, straight after the race I was upset because the victory was within reach. But it was by no means a situation that had put me under pressure so that I cracked. This is made-up media hysteria. The simple truth is that the conditions were extremely tricky. I tried to stay in front and knew that I had to get a bit of a cushion before the back straight if I didnt want to face the same destiny as Michael Schumacher did, as Jenson (Button) was extremely quick in that phase of the race. Once he was close enough to open the back wing you would be left without a chance. Unfortunately I didnt get that far, but now everything is back to normal. You know that saying about spilt milk (laughs)
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