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Q&A with Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel 24 Mar 2012

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 24 March 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 24 March 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 24 March 2012 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB8.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Sepang, Malaysia, Saturday, 24 March 2012

After struggling to find the right balance in his mulish RB8, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel found qualifying in Sepang on Saturday hard going. Starting the Malaysian race from fifth on the grid, the young German certainly doesn’t expect Sunday to be any easier. But the test of a true champion is how he copes with adversity and this year’s defending titleholder warns against writing off his team just yet…

Q: Do you expect you will have to become used to not being on pole?
Sebastian Vettel:
At least it’s not worse than last time. It was definitely not our session this time, although I felt quite good at the beginning of it. As soon as we changed to the soft tyres I did not feel comfortable, and then we switched back to the hard tyres. Hopefully this will be to our benefit in the race, at least at the beginning of it. One thing is for sure, we did not expect any miracles to have happened during the last week.

Q: How alarming is it to see the two McLarens again occupying the front row?
SV:
Not alarming at all, as they already looked strong during the winter tests, so we knew that they would be challenging us. If you look at the timesheet then you will see that the top teams are very close, and it looks promising that we will see an exciting race tomorrow. Still there is no one to write off yet, especially not us. During the long runs on Friday with a heavy fuel load we were quite happy, and we hope that it will be the same for the race. Besides McLaren, Mercedes are strong, although more in the qualifying and not the race, and also Lotus should not be underestimated.

Q: Some drivers are unhappy about the softer tyres, and some about the hard tyres. How much of a gamble have you taken for Sunday’s race?
SV:
Generally I wouldn’t say that there is such a big difference. It is more over what you prefer and what suits you better. I don’t think that we will see any surprises for the race, as we all know that the tyre degradation is very great here. It matters how long you are able to keep them in shape, and this will dictate the number of pit stops you carry out. Generally we assume that we are on a three-stop strategy, and we don’t know yet whether it will have to be a four-stop strategy. What we know is that a two-stop strategy should be pretty impossible here.

Q: So what is it that the RB8 is missing?
SV:
It is the grip. The car is sliding too much. The answer to how to solve this is much more complex. I also need to find the right balance in the car, and as I said before, I am struggling a bit with the soft tyres. In regards to qualifying I was not able to get everything out of the car for one timed flying lap. From the outside you can see that our car is not the easiest to drive at the moment, but we are working on getting a few issues fixed and I am very confident that we can do so.

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