Q&A with Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel 28 Jul 2011
Leading the standings by 77 points - an advantage equivalent to more than three race wins - at the seasons halfway point, its perhaps no surprise that Sebastian Vettel appears to be calmness personified as he heads into this weekends Hungaroring meeting. Having already conquered the Mount Everest of motorsport once, Vettel is now coolly putting the pieces in place to ensure he can do it all over again
Q: Sebastian, aside from the little technicality of the signature, it is confirmed that Mark (Webber) will be your team mate again in 2012
Sebastian Vettel: For sure? I didnt know.
Q: As far as Christian Horner is concerned, yes
SV: Thats fine with me. I know that the team mate issue is always a hot media topic, but as I just said, its fine with me. Everything stays the same, so no need to get used to someone else. Its not that Im afraid of something new, but there is also some sort of comfort in knowing exactly what youre getting! (laughs) We are probably not the best of friends, but we get along quite well when it comes to work in the team. In fact, I would say that we complement one another when it comes to racing issues.
Q: How can we picture your relationship? Is there some social element, or is he just the other driver in the team?
SV: As I just said, if the car is the topic then we speak intensely, either the two of us or together with the engineers, but otherwise we live in different worlds. But I dont know that this is so different to all the other teams. I would say that it is a totally normal team mate relationship nowadays.
Q: So it is not like the explosive relationship between Fernando Alonso and Lewis Hamilton that we saw some years ago at McLaren?
SV: Absolutely not. I think that it is pure sensationalism to interpret every little gesture and weighing every word. Of course there have been moments when we have been in disagreement, but that is normal and if this happens we talk about it. In fact I would say our relationship is very unspectacular, but that is a situation nobody wants to hear about. (laughs)
Q: Compared to the rollercoaster ride of last year - when Hungary was one of the low points, after which you went on to win the championship at the very last race - you look very worldly-wise this season, seemingly with endless energy
SV: Of course a race weekend takes its toll, but then it is always a question of what you make out of it. If you extract energy from it rather than losing it, then it is very special indeed.
Q: Burnout is a phrase that seems to have arrived in Formula One. Paul di Resta was talking about the issue in Monaco and Lewis Hamiltons PR appearances were cut down. Is this really an issue?
SV: Well, I think it is a very individual problem, depending on the makeup of a driver, and how you deal with it. I think it is always a case of what a driver thinks is best for him. For one driver something might be working, while the other is overstrained with it. One driver has a very tough training programme, another says he isnt training at all because he doesnt believe in it. It is down to the individual how much he can take - or wants to take.
Q: Winning the title is a dream come true - every youngster sitting in a kart has that kind of dream - and you probably had it too. But now what? Youre like the climber who has reached the top of Mount Everest - whats left?
SV: First of all it makes you very proud. Its not that I look into the mirror every day thinking, Wow, thats the guy who did it in Abu Dhabi. It is more that nice warming feeling that I have the ability to do it - that youre good enough to go all the way to the top and that no one can take this away from you. But success is a jigsaw puzzle, composed of so many little bits and pieces, and having brought all these pieces together, that makes it interesting to go for it again. I guess that is what makes climbers return to Mount Everest - to ascertain that you havent lost it.
Q: A champion always gets a lot of compelling offers from other teams - no doubt this also goes for you
SV: I am happy where I am. And my situation is clear for the foreseeable future. I have never been a fan of looking too far into the future, so offers are not interesting because I cannot imagine any better place than where I am now.
Q: At the Nurburgring you could be seen extensively adjusting your rear-view mirrors. In an era when you can influence everything electronically, are you still a hands-on person?
SV: You have to get a feeling for everything - and who better to know the right positioning of your mirrors than you sitting in the car? That is somehow logical. Sure, you can do almost anything electronically today, but I want to make sure myself what I can see in those mirrors. That can influence a race, so a little adjustment can make a huge difference. Some might say that the driver is not needed to set-up of the car, but as a driver you push it much more easily to the limit when you know the car and have confidence in it - and even a rear-view mirror is part of that knowing.
Q: When watching a race on television it has a very glossy, video game aesthetic - the fan can almost get the feeling of sitting in the cockpit, but somehow the feeling of the danger of driving at 300 km/h is almost eliminated. Is this something that also goes for the driver?
SV: I think we are very fortunate today to sit in very, very safe cars compared to the past. I think today you drive on the limit much more than before. In the past you probably knew that being on the limit works once or probably twice and with a new set of tyres probably one more time. But if it didnt work you didnt know what happened then - you couldnt be sure of ever getting out of the car again, so in the past probably a certain fear was permanently present. That is not the case any more. Losing fear is good, but what you must never lose is respect. Speeds are very high today - especially in the corners - so respect is what you must never lose, as we all go over the limit occasionally and all of us have felt how it is if you go over the limit and fly off. That feeling of flying off is not pleasant - and you will never forget it. And it is never that you get into the car believing that nothing can happen to you because that feeling of knowing whether youre on the edge - that thought of is it working or not - is still something that needs a certain amount of overcoming. But sure, it comes more easily than in the past.
Q: What would definitely make winning the title again easier for you would be the much-talked-about medal system. Who will be able to beat your six wins of 2011 so far? You must be regretting that this system wasnt introduced
SV: I am not living on short-term memory: I wouldnt have won the title last season, so I can live perfectly well with the points system we have now.
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