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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: I'm a sportsman not a superstar 15 Nov 2013

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Austin, Texas, USA, Thursday, 14 November 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing walks the track with Tim Malyon (GBR) Red Bull Racing Performance Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Austin, Texas, USA, Thursday, 14 November 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Austin, Texas, USA, Thursday, 14 November 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Practice, Austin, Texas, USA, Friday, 15 November 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd18, United States Grand Prix, Preparations, Austin, Texas, USA, Thursday, 14 November 2013

After topping Friday’s second practice session for the 2013 Formula 1 United States Grand Prix in Austin, world champion Sebastian Vettel talks about his Red Bull crew, about breaking Michael Schumacher’s records, and about his superstar status (or lack of)…

Q: Sebastian, being a serial winner is not only down to one man and his machine. It is the cooperation of a group of people - and especially the mutual understanding with your race engineer. How would you describe that?
Sebastian Vettel:
Well, it’s not only Rocky, my race engineer, but also Timmy, my data man. We are a well-honed troika, though we’ve always kept a certain distance as it is first and foremost a work relationship - you still have to have the chance to tell your opinion on a professional level and not having to fear that feathers will be ruffled. Many times it’s not easy to convince them of my opinion but, yes, sometimes I was able to carry my point - but so did they. I would go so far as to say we trust each other blindly and speak the same language. I think even if I were unable to say something they could read from my face what I want.

Q: There are voices that say that the predominance Red Bull is showing over all other teams is bad for the sport. How do you see that?
SV:
To be honest I don’t like the word ‘predominance’ because it implies that we force others under our regime - that what we do is so easy and so effortless. But that is all wrong. It is damned hard to win in Formula One. We are all working extremely hard and when from the outside it looks like a walk in the park, then probably we are doing a good job as we see our effort as pleasure. I always said that I love what I am doing, no matter how many hours it takes.

Q: You are the superstar of Formula One racing - but who for you is the superstar of 2013?
SV:
First of all I don’t like the word ‘superstar’. I am a sportsman. And to pick somebody out is not my thing because I don’t follow all the sports where great things have been achieved this year. My centre of interest is football and in particular Eintracht Frankfurt - and we are not doing so well right now. Another sport I watch more closely is tennis where I see that Rafael Nadal has come back strongly again. But other than that I don’t want to rate others, as I simply don’t know enough about other sports.

Q: How is it when you’re sitting on the grid before the start: the visor is closed, the adrenalin level jumps and the engine roars: are you then transformed from Dr Jeckyll to Mr Hyde?
SV:
Ha, no, you don’t really change your personality - you stay the person you are. But in competition mode, of course things are a bit different as the priority then is to do your maximum and try to win. Not at all costs, but pretty close to it. If you see a gap you go for it. You probably have to be ruthless at times, but you also have to stay fair and respect your competitors because you also want to be respected by them.

Q: Win here in Austin and a week later in Brazil and you will break Michael Schumacher’s record of seven wins in a row in a season, and of 13 victories in a season. Are you on a record hunt in the next ten days?
SV:
I was never interested in breaking any records, as these are only numbers. Of course I want to keep on winning. I am 26 years old and I cannot imagine that at that age I would have to think that the best is already past me. So winning is on my agenda, but records no - they are not much more than a side effect.

Q: Last year coming to Austin the championship was still open, so it must have been different driving here than it will be on Sunday…
SV:
But the will to win is always there. Sure it’s a bit more relaxed now, but we almost won here last year so we will definitely try to make it happen this time!

Q: If you look back at the season, what was your highlight?
SV:
Probably the German Grand Prix. To win your home races is still one of the best moments on the podium. That weekend we hadn’t been the fastest - we’d been challenged very heavily by Lotus - but then to walk away with the trophy because we got the strategy right and had a firm eye on our tyres, that was a very special moment.

Q: Coming back to Austin, how was it going today?
SV:
Well, the morning session was a rather short affair due to the foggy conditions - and I have to agree that my time was not really brilliant - then in the afternoon the conditions improved significantly, even though the track still remained very slippery, so driving was a rather delicate thing. But the good news is that both tyres work well for us.

Q: Who will be your biggest opponent tomorrow and on Sunday?
SV:
It’s still difficult to say. I think that Mercedes was heavier than we were and let’s see what Lotus is coming up with - now that Kimi (Raikkonen) is not here. I think a lot will depend on the tyres as it should be possible to do only one pit stop - and if so, much will depend on changing at the right time. For that we have our experts.

Q: What are the parts of the track that will be crucial in qualifying?
SV:
There are many. This track has quite a number of slow corners and a bit too late on the brakes and the dream of pole position is over. Much will depend on finding the right balance between risk and a clean line. Our car feels good, so that is good news for qualifying and race.

Q: What’s your favourite part of the track?
SV:
I like the braking for Turn One with the steep hill and then the first sector with all the high-speed corners - it’s a tricky part and allows good fights. When we came here for the first time last year we were all blown away by the track - and the vibes in the city - and it is still the same feeling now. We will all try to give the American fans an incredible show so that they will all come back for more in 2014 - in even bigger numbers!

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