Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Hungry Heidi feeling good 15 Mar 2013
The opening practice sessions in Melbourne were both familiar and odd. We are used to Red Bull being fastest, but rarely on a Friday when the world champions normally opt to play their cards close to their chest. What does it all mean? Hard to tell, but Sebastian Vettel seemed pretty happy about it nonetheless
Q: Sebastian, Melbourne is traditionally the time to reveal the name of your car. What will she be called in 2013?
Sebastian Vettel: Weve opted for Hungry Heidi.
Q: What is behind that name?
SV: Ha, we could hardly call her horny
Q: What attributes do you expect are behind that name?
SV: Speed - like every year.
Q: And has she got it?
SV: It was never harder than this season to say where we stand - not after the winter tests and not after running one day here. My guess is that it again will take a couple of races to really see who has got it. At least until we return to Europe for the Spanish Grand Prix in May.
Q: On the last day of the Barcelona test you said that you had been able to tick all the boxes. How crucial is that here, to at least know that from your side youve done everything possible to hopefully be competitive, even if you dont know where you stand relative to the others?
SV: Of course it is important to come here with the feeling that youve done everything possible to start the season in a good position. We have been working very hard in the factory between Barcelona and before flying out to Australia, so for ourselves the feeling is very positive. What that really means we will find out on Saturday.
Q: It was a promising start today. What do you read into todays performance?
SV: That it feels good and that the car is doing exactly the things that I like, but also that you should not read too much into the Friday times. Of course it is better to be at the top of the time sheet than somewhere in the midfield.
Q: What does all that mean for qualifying?
SV: I think that the track will change and that the tyres are still a question mark for the one fast qualifying lap. I think we havent seen everything from the others on the soft tyres so I expect it to be much closer tomorrow. I hope that we will be able to take the fantastic balance that the car has right now into the next two days.
Q: Were you surprised to head the time sheet in both sessions?
SV: It was hard to expect anything today, so we havent been overly surprised how it turned out as we somewhat had the impression that things went pretty well in the winter - and that we didnt have any real and serious issues.
Q: Are the tyres really such a problem as was believed over the winter?
SV: Well, I think overall it looks okay. The soft tyres will definitely not last too long - we have seen everyone pitting for the harder ones and they seem to work quite well and should work for the race. How well? That we will unfortunately only see on Sunday.
Q: Your team principal Christian Horner just said that he hopes there will be enough tyres. Is that something you are also worried about? At the tests there was rather heavy wear, with tyres sometimes only lasting one or two laps. Will that be decisive this weekend?
SV: Well, probably yes. The big question will be how the conditions change Saturday and Sunday - and how we can cope with these changes.
Q: What does that mean for this weekend? Are there any favourites? Maybe the usual suspects, or do you have more on your list to watch out for?
SV: Well, I would assume that the five bigger teams are in a paramount position, but also never underestimate the midfield - especially on a track like Melbourne where we have sometimes had rather unusual results.
Q: What is different this year compared to 2012?
SV: Last year we had a rather difficult time finding out how the car has to behave together with the tyres to be fast. This season it all should be a bit easer as the rules have not really changed and we can hugely build on the findings of 2012. Other than that we definitely have no advantage from the fact that my car runs with the number one on it. We all start from zero like everybody else and have to work hard to earn our place in the pecking order.
Q: How is it for you personally, to start the season as a three-time champion?
SV: Not different to last season or the years before. As I just said, it all starts at zero - unfortunately its not possible to take the points overspill from last season into this one. And in reality those three points from 2012 wouldnt help so much at this time of the season - maybe things would look different at the end of 2013. Then ask me again if I would think it a good idea! (laughs)
Q: How much of a difference is it to fight for the fourth title?
SV: To be honest, I dont think about it. We have a long season ahead - 19 races to go - and the title stands at the end of it, so I do it the way that has always served me well since my first steps in motor racing: to take each race at a time. Sure you set yourself a target for the year - and the target again is to defend both titles - but you shouldnt think about it much more.
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