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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: RB8 has huge potential 18 Mar 2012

Second placed Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8, in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2012 (L to R): Lewis Hamilton (GBR) McLaren and Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Australian Grand Prix, Rd1, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sunday, 18 March 2012

They say the cream will always rise to the top - something Sebastian Vettel demonstrated in striking fashion in Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix. Starting from a disastrous - by his standards - P6 on the grid, he managed to overpower four key rivals to end the race second. Of course it’s not the position the defending world champion wanted to be in, but it gave him hope that on a more ‘normal’ race track in Malaysia in a week’s time the balance of power could well shift from McLaren towards Red Bull Racing…

Q: Sebastian, this was quite a difficult weekend up until the race. Was the result the maximum possible?
Sebastian Vettel:
Yes, I would say so. After a disappointing qualifying I would say that we’ve got the maximum out of the race. We’ve been significantly closer to the McLarens than in qualifying. Nevertheless, Jenson (Button) was still a bit too fast for us. I had hoped that there could be a chance after the restart, but he smashed that hope almost immediately. It think that I was holding up Lewis (Hamilton) in that phase, but then I was able to create a gap between us and could relax a bit for the last two laps. But I also saw that there was little chance to close the gap to Jenson, so P2 was a good result that let’s us move on to Malaysia with a positive feeling.

Q: It looked for a long time like only P3 for you, behind Lewis. How much did the safety car play to your advantage?
SV:
Ah, you say ‘only’ P3, but if you start from P6 every place that you move forward is a welcome improvement. From the very beginning I knew that it would be crucial for my race to pass the Mercedes - and it worked out nicely. After half race distance I was pretty much even with Lewis and was able to make the important move at a moment when obviously his tyres were degrading more than mine and made the choice to stay out when he was pitting. In hindsight I would say that we very likely would have managed to pass him even without the safety car as my tyres were in pretty good shape, giving me the chance to fully attack, while it always takes minimum half a lap to get new tyres up to speed. With the safety car, of course, everything was easier.

Q: What was going through your mind when you saw the crane truck on the track almost stopping the race?
SV:
Well, we saw quite a lot of ‘strange’ situations in the race - only a kangaroo was missing! (laughs) There was even a ‘brave’ marshal on the track while the cars were passing at full speed, so indeed this was a race with many strange incidents.

Q: The Malaysian Grand Prix is just one week away. Will we see the same balance of power there - or can what we saw this weekend be attributed only to the peculiarity of the Melbourne track?
SV:
To be honest I have no idea, but what I know is that we’ve learned a lot over this weekend. The car has huge potential and that gives us all a bold feeling. I know that there is no need to hide - the result today was simply too good and the pace is there. But what this weekend also demonstrated is that we are not where we want to be - but we have a master plan!

Q: Your move on Nico Rosberg looked pretty risky and surely had many fans holding their breath…
SV:
Me too! (laughs) But I knew that I had to pass him and found myself in a good position at the exit of sector six and seven and told myself: try it! It was clear that Nico would defend his position so he didn’t wave me past, as everybody could see and I could feel, but it worked. It was one of those situations where you don’t think too much about the pros or cons, you just go for it. And it was a bit the same with Michael (Schumacher). The first time I was out in my estimation and the second time it was him, which played to my advantage. As I said before, it was important to pass them as they are a real force on the straight.

Q: Michael said that he was really sorry that he had to stop because he would have enjoyed a good fight with you…
SV:
Yes, I do believe him!

Q: So what is it that you have to change for next weekend so as not to run into the ‘qualifying blues’ again?
SV:
There is not that one single thing that you can switch on or off. This weekend made us understand the car much better - made us a bit wiser - and I hope we can profit from those insights. We leave Melbourne extremely motivated because we don’t like the taste of being walked over by McLaren! (laughs)

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