Exclusive Sebastian Vettel Q&A: You cant rely on past glories 22 Feb 2012
Approaching a season as the reigning world champion means a driver has little to gain and a lot to lose. But if youre Red Bulls Sebastian Vettel, and youre aiming to follow in the footsteps of Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher by clinching a third successive title, then theres 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, youve spent over three days in the RB8. How does it compare to the incredible RB7?
Sebastian Vettel: I think Ive 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 its 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: Its 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 wouldnt 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 dont 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 its too much. Whats your stance on the issue?
SV: Twenty races is indeed a huge workload but to be honest whether its 19 or 20 races doesnt 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 cant 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, its 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 - thats 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: Therell 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 doesnt 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 whove been able to win the championship three consecutive times - Juan Manuel Fangio and Michael Schumacher
SV: I wasnt aware that only two drivers have done it. But as the saying goes, threes a charm, so lets try to do it again this year!
Q: Are you aiming to win races you havent won before like Canada, Hungary and your home event in Germany?
SV: It would be nice but its not a must. To win this years German Grand Prix on the other hand would be very special. So lets cross our fingers.
Q: Lets 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, hows 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 dont have to say that we want to be faster than the rest. So lets 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.
For tickets and travel to 2012 Formula One races, click here.
For Formula One and F1 team merchandise, click here.