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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: I don’t consider myself the bad guy 11 Apr 2013

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9 and Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9 battle.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing, signs autographs for fans.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 (L to R): Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing and race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing in the post race Press Conference.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 R-L: Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9 makes the controversial overtaking move on Mark Webber (AUS) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 Race winner Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing celebrates in parc ferme.
Formula One World Championship, Rd2, Malaysian Grand Prix, Race, Sepang, Malaysia, Sunday, 24 March 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing signage over garage.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing walks the track with Guillaume Rocquelin (FRA) Red Bull Racing Race Engineer, Tim Malyon (GBR) Red Bull Racing Performance Engineer and his trainer Heikki Huovinen (FIN).
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd3, Chinese Grand Prix, Preparations, Shanghai, China, Thursday, 11 April 2013

Sebastian Vettel arrived in Shanghai as the championship leader, having taken a race victory and a third place from the opening two races of the season. But when the reigning world champion met with the media on Thursday afternoon, the talk wasn’t of his recent successes but rather his controversial pass of Red Bull team mate Mark Webber three weeks earlier in Malaysia...

Q: Usually you are perceived as the good guy, and now reading the media it looks like you are the bad guy after what happened with Mark Webber in Malaysia. What is your opinion on this?
Sebastian Vettel:
I personally don’t consider myself as the bad guy in this situation, as I don’t think that I did something that in particular could be rated as bad. I think I said more-or-less everything after the race, and I apologised to the team, which was important to me. Also I took the opportunity to visit the team and explain to them personally what had happened from my point of view.

Q: Helmut Marko has been quoted as saying that there will be no more team orders at Red Bull in the future. Will this make any difference to your job?
SV:
I haven’t seen Helmut (Marko) yet, but for me this makes no difference at all.

Q: Mark Webber’s understanding of this situation is that his relationship with the team is alright. How would you describe your relationship with him now, and do you think that, if necessary, you could count on his support in the championship later this season?
SV:
To be very honest I think I never had support from his side. I have a lot of support from the team though, and I think that the team is supporting both of us the same way. I do respect him a lot as a racing driver. But also I think there have been a few occasions in the past where he could have chosen to help the team, but he didn’t.

Q: Then it looks a bit like you were paying him back for not helping you when you needed his help in the past…
SV:
You could say this in an indirect way, but it was not intentionally on purpose. I was racing, and as a racing driver I was solely focused on winning the race. Then I have received a call on the radio, which I have heard but didn’t really put it into context at the time. I clearly should have understood it, and this is why I have apologized to the team, because with my actions I had put myself above the team, which again was not my intention, as the last thing I want, as being a team member, is to disobey the teams decisions. I have apologized to the team for not following up the team’s decision, and not for winning the race. During the race I felt the pressure coming from behind, with Lewis and Mercedes having had strong race pace, but luckily they went low on fuel and could not push to the end of the race. So I got closer to Mark, and he speeded up again. To be fair, he was even a bit faster towards the end of that stint. At the final stint I was faster than Mark and that was also the reason why I was able to overtake - and let’s not forget that it is not easy to do so in general in Formula One. My thoughts back then were not about getting more points to be able to win another championship at the end of the season, my thoughts were entirely about winning this particular race - in this very moment! In my opinion - as a real racer - you will go for the gap.

Q: You’ve explained that you didn’t understand the ‘Multi 21’ message over the team radio…
SV:
The fact is that I heard that over the team radio but didn’t connect it with the situation - whether you believe that or not. I was doing my race and concentrating on winning - and have won. After the race it dawned on me that I interpreted the team radio wrong - and I have apologised.

Q: Had you understood the team order properly, would you have obeyed it?
SV:
I am not sure if I can give you a perfect answer on that question. Of course there would have been a conflict, as I am the type of person that respects the team’s decisions, but probably I would have thought that Mark wouldn’t have deserved it at that time.

Q: Ferrari’s Stefano Domenicali said after the race that he has never seen such a miserable podium. Red Bull had bagged 43 points but hung their heads. Shouldn’t the overall team success be the benchmark?
SV:
Probably we all have learned from that.

Q: If this kind of situation would occur again, would you make the same decision again?
SV:
I am not sure, but probably I would do the same. But generally for the future I wouldn’t say that this is the end of the world. I come to the Formula One paddock every morning because I love what I am doing. I love racing and I love working with the team, and it gives my life so much satisfaction and I cannot think of doing anything else that gives me so much pleasure. Of course there are more difficult times, and there are easier times as well. But I am here to race, and the next time I will be in the car is tomorrow and I am very much looking forward to that.

Q: At the beginning of the race in Malaysia you came in quite early to change from intermediates to dry tyres; whose decision was this and was it a mistake?
SV:
This, unfortunately, was my own mistake as it was probably one lap too early. Also I had the gap, so I didn’t really need to be the first one to change. At that time I felt it was the right thing to do. As it turned out, on top of the mistake of coming in too early, I came out in traffic and in the first three turns it was still a bit wet. The other drivers on intermediates passed me straight away, and on the dry parts I was behind them and couldn’t really make use of the dry tyres. The bottom line is that I did lose out too much.

Q: Has there been any internal sanction or punishment against you for what happened in Malaysia?
SV:
No, there hasn’t. I do like to deal with these kinds of situations directly and face-to-face. I have always been truthful, and if there is something that I have to talk about or if there is something that I did wrong, I have no problems admitting it. It is for sure not always the easiest thing to do, but this is exactly what I did straight after the race, both to the team and the media. I do see myself as on the same level as anyone else in the team. The team is putting in so much effort to be able to give me a strong car to win races and ultimately trust me and I want to give that trust back as much as I can. Although I have not followed up an order from the team, still Christian Horner is the boss, and he is in control of all the employees and he is the one leading the team.

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