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Exclusive - Sebastian Vettel's 2013 Season Review 06 Dec 2013

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Qualifying, Monza, Italy, Saturday, 7 September 2013 FIA Prize Giving Gala 2012 - Istanbul - FIA Formula One World Championship - Sebastian Vettel - Christian Horner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Preparations, Friday, 25 October 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing on the grid.
Formula One World Championship, Rd15, Japanese Grand Prix, Race Day, Suzuka, Japan, Sunday, 13 October 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd12, Italian Grand Prix, Practice, Monza, Italy, Friday, 6 September 2013 Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates on the podium with the trophy.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Buddh International Circuit, Greater Noida, New Delhi, India, Race Day, Sunday, 27 October 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Race Day, Shanghai, China, Sunday, 14 April 2013 Race winner and four-time F1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates with champagne on the podium as Adrian Newey (GBR) Red Bull Racing Chief Technical Officer looks on.
Formula One World Championship, Rd16, Indian Grand Prix, Bud Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice, Hungaroring, Hungary. Friday, 26 July 2013 Podium and results:
1st Kimi Raikkonen (FIN) Lotus F1, centre.
2nd Fernando Alonso (ESP) Ferrari, left.
3rd Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, right.
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd10, Hungarian Grand Prix, Practice, Hungaroring, Hungary. Friday, 26 July 2013

On Friday evening in Paris, Sebastian Vettel will collect the trophy for winning the 2013 FIA Formula One World Championship. Aged just 26, it will be the fourth time Vettel has picked up the prize, after he utterly dominated the latter part of the season. Of course, winning an F1 title is never ‘easy’. That’s something the German explains, as he reflects on another year of record-breaking achievements, and looks forward to the huge challenges posed by the 2014 rule changes…

Q: Sebastian, this weekend you will again receive the drivers’ FIA Formula One World Championship trophy. Has the fact that you’ve really done it for a fourth time sunk in by now?
Sebastian Vettel:
Four titles… even now it is difficult for me to understand what it means. On one hand you have the plain numbers; on the other hand you have the person behind those numbers and I have to say that my approach has not really changed in those last four years - and nor has the way I look at things. When I look in the mirror I see pretty much the same person - older, yes, and the beard is slightly thicker (laughs), but in terms of how I perceive myself I am still the same ‘old’ me. Of course you try to learn over the years - you become a better driver who intimately knows the tricks of his trade - but I think that goes for every driver on the grid. What is still very present for me are the fantastic races that we’ve won and seeing that the whole team breathes the same spirit. The precision that we have established and the will to win that is almost physically tangible - these are the things that come to mind when reflecting on the last few years. Grasping what it means to have won four titles is probably something that I will have the luxury to reflect on when I am not racing any more - when you have the time to look back and have the distance to compare yourself with other drivers. All the time you are racing your next race is always the next big challenge that you are focusing on, and not the elusive question of who is the best, the fastest or the most famous ever.

Q: Does it have any meaning to you that almost all the things you’ve achieved are preceded by the adjective ‘youngest-ever’?
When looking back on what I’ve ‘achieved’ at the age of 26, I have to say it doesn’t really matter to me. I left school in 2006 - and that is not so long ago - and now I have won four titles in Formula One. It has been incredible to do that in such a short time, yes, but on the other hand it was also always about taking the next step. Sometimes you realized that you weren’t ready for that next step so then you worked on yourself and made sure that you were ready the next time. I was very lucky never having to feel pressure from the people who were close to me trying to push me into something that I was not ready for.

Q: What does ‘pressure’ mean for you? Every race - especially this season - people expected you to win…
Of course my ultimate goal was always to win the F1 title, to prove that I can do it - with all the names in the back of your head from the history books of the champions. To win two or three or four times - or even more - is way beyond your imagination, so when it happens you just go with the flow. (laughs) I can say that I am the one who puts the most pressure on me. I expect myself to perform. I don’t expect to win or to be one of the best. You have to work very hard to win races - this does not come out of the blue. You have a certain amount of talent. You can’t influence the amount of talent that you have, but there are a lot of other things that I can influence and I am focusing on those. Winning the title in 2010 was a huge relief in that respect, as it was a tough season and at the end you’ve achieved something that nobody can take away from you.

Q: Looking back at this season, when and where would you say you performed best?
The moment you cross the finishing line you want to have the feeling that you’ve done your best - and that does not necessarily mean that you’ve won the race. Sometimes you win a race but know that you’ve made a mistake here, had a lapse there - so you won, but the satisfaction level is not that high. And then there are sometimes races like for me in China where I didn’t qualify well because the speed was not there and so we decided to run a different strategy. Slowly we came through the field and nearly finished on the podium. That was a very satisfying race for me as I had the feeling that I had given everything I had. What does that teach you? That by no means is a race only a good race when you win. Sometimes the ‘troubled’ races are the ones that get the best out of you, where your ‘recovery’ qualities are what make the difference. China was similarly satisfying to the race in India where I was able to control the race. It’s only sad that after a race like in China - where you personally feel you’ve done everything right, coming from a difficult starting position - you don’t get a trophy, whereas in India obviously I got one.

Q: When people think about your wins they also inevitably think about Red Bull Racing and Adrian Newey. Do you think you get the credit you deserve?
I think a lot of people think of a lot of things when thinking about my wins: Red Bull Racing, Adrian, myself - and a handful of key people in the team. In general we all get enough credit. There is enough attention. But there are so many more people involved in that ‘winning process’ - Christian Horner was rightfully speaking about all the unsung heroes who contribute a lot with their hard work and brilliant ideas. They don’t get enough credit. Sure, it is not possible to name 500 or more people, but kudos to them all! Every single individual in the team has contributed to Red Bull Racing becoming a racing legend.

Q: At the end of last year - when you’d just bagged your third title - Fernando Alonso said that he was racing Adrian Newey and not you. But the fact is that Adrian was with Red Bull Racing for years and yet the team only started winning races after you joined, so is there any self-doubt?
You are who you are. When you’ve done something wrong in life you’re the first person to know. So the first person you cheat is yourself. If you are happy with yourself and can live comfortably with the person that you are, then there is no reason to doubt anything.

Q: F1 fans would have loved to see you racing with a Kimi Rakkkonen or a Fernando Alonso as your team mate next season, rather than the more ‘junior’ Daniel Ricciardo. What do you say to those who say you need to go up against a fellow champion to really prove yourself?
I think at the end of the day we don’t have to prove anything. We’ve proven enough. We have had four fantastic years - and where were all the others in those four years? Nothing happens without a reason. Of course you need the right package - and we had that strong package - but I remember we also had a strong package in 2009 and finished second in the championship. Think of last year: the championship was not decided when I was sent to the back of the grid in Abu Dhabi and had to fight my way back. Then we had a nightmare of a race in Brazil: the car was damaged and I was last after the first lap and managed to come back. So we had our share of misfortune on many occasions and it was down to the others to seize their chances in such moments. I am convinced that you create your own luck. There will always be people who doubt, but that is their problem. Daniel will come to the team strong and will do a good job. He is coming from Toro Rosso and is in a bit of a similar situation to mine in 2009. Maybe the biggest difference is that the team has different expectations now, but also a winning record that wasn’t there when I joined.

Q: So what’s your outlook for 2014 from a driver’s point of view?
We all know by now that there will be massive changes and the biggest change for me is the engine. Everything else will be usual stuff, but in regards to the engine it will be an incredibly big challenge for the drivers. Imagine having only 100 kilos of fuel available for a race! That might require looking for completely different techniques that allow you to go as quick as normal but also save fuel. You have to adapt to this new situation - and find the best way to go as fast as possible to the chequered flag! (laughs)

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