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Exclusive Sebastian Vettel Q&A: You can’t rely on past glories 22 Feb 2012

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 2, Barcelona, Spain, Wednesday, 22 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8 in the pits.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One Testing, Day 1, Barcelona, Spain, Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Approaching a season as the reigning world champion means a driver has little to gain and a lot to lose. But if you’re Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel, and you’re aiming to follow in the footsteps of Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher by clinching a third successive title, then there’s a very tangible target. At the moment, however, Vettel is forgetting what lies ahead and simply concentrating on ironing out any teething problems afflicting the RB8 and regaining the levels of grip he enjoyed last season…

Q: Sebastian, you’ve spent over three days in the RB8. How does it compare to the incredible RB7?
Sebastian Vettel:
I think I’ve said it before but the biggest difference is that the cars have less grip, which will make us slower than last year. Last season the way we incorporated the exhaust was very cleverly devised. It made the car faster by generating more grip, but it’s a thing of the past in 2012 and for now we have to live with it. I would say that goes for all the other teams as well. We are looking into ways of getting that grip level back and I am sure we will succeed, although it will take time.

Q: It’s very early still but what are your expectations for 2012?
SV:
Let me first go back to 2011, as it was beyond comparison. It was something you would think was a one-off, something you probably wouldn’t even dare to dream of - and it happened to us! But, overall, the season was a fantastic year for the whole of Formula One. We saw great races and sizzling overtaking, so I would say that we provided a super show. Of course we hope to do it again this season. My guess is that the performance of the cars will be even closer this year, especially the gap between the front-running teams and the midfield. We will probably even see a few surprises. But it is too early to ink predictions and it will not be before Malaysia - on a ‘normal’ track - that any pecking order will begin to come into focus.

Q: For the first time in years the word ‘ugly’ has been used in connection with the new cars. Do you mind the stepped noses?
SV:
I think you get used to the view. I also don't believe it's something we'll be thinking about for long - or perhaps it was a planned design aim of the new regulations! (laughs) Remember the new shapes in 2009 with the big front and the tiny rear. There was an outcry. And today all the cars look that way and we don’t waste any words on it anymore. That shows how quickly you get used to things.

Q: We are heading into a 20-race season. Some argue that it’s too much. What’s your stance on the issue?
SV:
Twenty races is indeed a huge workload but to be honest whether it’s 19 or 20 races doesn’t make any real difference. There are few sports with such a long season, so I would suggest that we all just roll up our sleeves. I think it will be important to pace yourself cleverly and you will probably have to use the phrase ‘thanks, but no thanks’ more often. You can’t have your finger in every pie, however alluring it may look.

Q: It seems that Formula One racing is rejuvenating itself at the moment with several veterans bidding adieu. Would you agree?
SV:
Even if it might appear at first glance to be the case, it’s not really fair to say it. In a top-level sport it is not unusual for people to stop and younger people to join in. Some are hanging on longer than others - that’s sport. Maybe you sometimes have seasons where you see the exit of a number of ‘old-timers’ but Formula One has also seen seasons without any rookies.

Q: There’ll be six world champions on the grid this season. How do you feel about that?
SV:
As it has never happened before, it is something very special. And to be one of those six feels even better. But then again, this is something that points to the past and has nothing to do with the next 20 races, as it doesn’t make you any faster. It is a new game when we start on the Melbourne grid. Past glory is great to have, but you have to make sure that it reaches into the here and now.

Q: You have a rich knowledge of Formula One history. There are only two drivers to date who’ve been able to win the championship three consecutive times - Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher…
SV:
I wasn’t aware that only two drivers have done it. But as the saying goes, three’s a charm, so let’s try to do it again this year!

Q: Are you aiming to win races you haven’t won before like Canada, Hungary and your home event in Germany?
SV:
It would be nice but it’s not a ‘must’. To win this year’s German Grand Prix on the other hand would be very special. So let’s cross our fingers.

Q: Let’s talk about racing. Last season you occasionally clocked the fastest lap of the race just before the Grand Prix ended, which caused a few grey hairs on the pit wall. Will you do something similar this year?
SV:
Well, when I did it, I was mostly leading the race with a comfortable gap so there was no risk in doing it. We are all professionals who know how to avoid follies. On the other hand it feels really good when the car is light towards the end of a race to go fast, faster, and then fastest!

Q: Back to the RB8, how’s it looking?
SV:
The car is on its sixth day on the track. What we are doing right now is eliminating any teething problems and focusing on reliability. If you ask me what teething problems, then I can tell you that at Jerez we had some electronic issues. We have identified that problem and now we are working to solve it. The words ‘problem’ and ‘issue’ sound so serious but what we are looking at has nothing to do with the weight of those words. The genuine feeling is good but you should never bank on feelings in F1! I guess I don’t have to say that we want to be faster than the rest. So let’s wait and see, but as the same design whizz who created the RB6 and RB7 also created the RB8 we have the best possible pedigree.

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