Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Tyres still an issue for Red Bull 22 Mar 2013
The RB9s ability to manage its tyres proved Red Bulls undoing at the season-opener in Australia last weekend. Will the situation improve in Malaysia? Too soon to tell, says Sebastian Vettel, though for now the issue remains something of a thorn in the teams side. At least Vettel is happy to see his friend Kimi Raikkonen doing well
Q: Looking back at the Australian Grand Prix, how was it that you were so strong in qualifying and then struggled in the race?
Sebastian Vettel: We are asking ourselves the same question. (laughs) In the first place we had been very happy that everything went quite well from the beginning onwards, especially looking at the pole position, after which we had hoped that it would continue like this. But reality kicked in when we realized that the tyres were not doing the expected, and their degradation was far quicker than anticipated. The consequence was that the car was sliding a lot, which led to losing a bit of time each lap with the result of having two competitors crossing the finish line ahead of us.
Q: At first glance it all looks a bit tighter amongst the top guys, especially with Ferrari and Lotus as well. What conclusion do you draw from of this?
SV: It is only the beginning of the season, although it really looks like that the field at the front has moved together. Compared to last year the regulations have not changed much, and therefore I think that our competitors have grown stronger looking at the results of the Melbourne GP. Looking into the future I would say that things can pretty much change from race to race, and the most important thing is that one has to be consistent throughout the entire season to fight for the championship.
Q: Lotus have obviously sent out shock waves to Red Bull and Ferrari
SV: In regards to Kimis [Raikkonen] win last weekend in Melbourne, I was very happy for him. But believe me, during the race I could hardly understand what was written on the pit board - that he was ahead of me - as I really did not see him at all while we were racing. But then I looked at one of the big screens during the race, and saw that he really was in front of me. Of course we would have been even happier if we had won that race. (laughs)
Q: How do you prepare for very hot and humid races like here in Malaysia?
SV: The heat is something that you just have to get used to. Luckily all of us have a trainer or physio working with us, so we are in good hands. Regarding the preparation in the car, unfortunately there is not a lot (you can do), as on-season testing was banned some time ago. So the practice sessions are the ones that really prepare us for the race. Already during the junior racing series we get prepared to learn very fast to adapt to different situations. One of the most valuable learning processes is the analysis after any session in the car. You are most likely talking much more about corners and straights than you actually race them.
Q: So how demanding was today?
SV: Well, it was one of these days when you definitely sweat more. But as I just said, we train all year long to be fit for a situation like this.
Q: How satisfied are you so far after 48 laps in the furnace?
SV: Well, I think we had a reasonable day and my prediction is it will be an interesting weekend when it comes to the tyres. You dont have to be a genius to understand that tyres will be a decisive factor on Sunday and so far we are a bit on the thorny side.
Q: Is that a situation that is interesting, enthralling or simply annoying?
SV: A bit of all of them.
Q: Kimi again looks like a serious challenger. You have frequently said that he is the closest thing to a friend you have among the other drivers. Could that change in the case of a real rivalry on the track?
SV: I dont really think so. Not from his side and sure not from my side. You have to separate your professional from your private life. But of course we never crashed into each other. How we would both react then, I dont know, but I am sure that this would be off the table again very fast.
For tickets and travel to 2013 FORMULA 1 races, click here.
For FORMULA 1 and F1 team merchandise, click here.