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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: It wasn't ideal 23 May 2013

Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing and Hirohide Hamashima (JPN) Ferrari Tyre Engineer.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 The Monaco liveried helmet of Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 The Monaco liveried helmet of Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013 Sebastian Vettel (GER) Red Bull Racing RB9.
Formula One World Championship, Rd6, Monaco Grand Prix, Practice, Monte-Carlo, Monaco, Thursday, 23 May 2013

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel was a modest ninth fastest after Thursday’s running in Monte Carlo, following a less-than-perfect day by Red Bull standards. Unperturbed, Vettel is convinced that a Friday of number crunching combined with Saturday morning’s final free practice will be enough to prepare him adequately for Monaco’s all-important qualifying session…

Q: Sebastian, do we see a little smile on your face today?
Sebastian Vettel:
Always - not only today. But if the question was meant in regards to the performance today, I would say that it is hard for us to say where we are right now. We made a big modification on the car after the morning run - that’s why we ran only one hour in the afternoon and with the softer tyres the time simply wasn’t there. So all in all, not ideal. The good news is that we have a fast car when everything comes together. Now it is up to us to make everything come together.

Q: Was there any specific issue that stopped you from clocking a faster time?
SV:
I wasn’t running KERS, but that was only for safety reasons.

Q: What are your hopes for qualifying?
SV:
To be honest, we haven’t had a shot at how to go about qualifying on Saturday. But Saturday morning [practice] is hopefully enough time to get a clue in which direction we have to set up the car. It is indeed a bit unfortunate that we didn’t have more running in the afternoon and the red flag also didn’t help, but this is Red Bull and we’ve always found an answer to the toughest challenge. We will sit down and analyse the data and we have a full day tomorrow to have some mind games on how we will approach qualifying on Saturday and Sunday’s race.

Q: You won here in 2011 so you know how it feels to get the trophy at this very special track…
SV:
In reality it is just one race out of 19. But then, of course, it is something special. Where else do you race with a firm eye always on the walls?

Q: Which is the part of the track where your stomach drops?
SV:
When you arrive at the Casino - and around the Casino. You arrive in this left-right passage with quite some speed and you arrive there in seventh gear, flying blind over the camber. Of course you know what is coming next, and yet it is requires some overcoming. It is not the part where you gain or lose time in regards to qualifying. There are other parts that are technically more demanding and make the difference between a fast or not-so-fast lap, like the turn before the tunnel or the Swimming Pool chicane. These are the key parts of the track where you gain or lose. But in terms of excitement nothing beats the Casino part.

Q: How do you see the Monaco circuit as a whole? It is a traditional track from a different era and might not be as safe as the new circuits, simply because of the lack of space. Do you drivers speak about such issues?
SV:
A certain amount of risk is involved in many sports - you will never be able to completely avoid that. Formula One is probably a bit more dangerous than other sports - that will always be a fact - but a lot has been done to make tracks safer, also here in Monaco, though an element of risk will always remain in racing. And that is good, because if we could all cruise with endless space around tracks the spectacle would be gone. The cars have to be fast and ear piercing, because that is what we are here for - and what the fans are here for. When I get into the car I definitely do not feel unsafe.

Q: So how does it feel then, to get into the car and do a lap?
SV:
First of all it is a street circuit, which means that there is no room for mistakes - not only because there are no run-off zones, but more because there is only one line and if you miss that line - being a bit too fast or a bit too late on the brakes - then there is only one alternative left: the barrier. That is something that you try to avoid at any cost. (laughs)

Q: Everybody talks about this track being the one where the driver can really make a difference. What percentage does the human factor contribute in the car?
SV:
It is not possible to give a percentage of the difference a driver can make, but I can tell you some factors: it is how much risk you take, how much you can overcoming some sectors like the Casino every time, and how much you are able to squeeze out everything possible in that one lap in qualifying. Having said this, it is easy to understand that the driver does make a difference here.

Q: Is Monaco the track that generates the most mental stress?
SV:
Well, street courses are all that way - and speaking of mental stress I would judge Singapore as the clear winner. The good thing with street courses is that the speed is less, so the g-forces in the corners are also less.

Q: Do you see any clear favourites for this race? Many predict that Mercedes’ Lewis Hamilton and Nico Rosberg will have a clear advantage here - from what they’ve demonstrated today and based on their qualifying speed so far this season...
SV:
I can understand that people make out Mercedes as the favourite here given their qualifying performance in the last couple of races and we all know how important the grid position is here. But Thursday is much too early to make any predictions. It will again be a question of the tyres - how long they last - because a pit stop will put you way back and overtaking is practically impossible. Of course they are shooting for pole position - just as we do.

Q: Again the tyres. Your boss Dietrich Mateschitz said that this is not racing any more but tyre watching…
SV:
There have been talks about the tyres ever since this season started. When the majority of the drivers are struggling it means that you cannot drive as you are used to - and probably this should be given a thought - or two. If your only focus is the tyres, then that is not racing any longer in the way that we knew. Maybe we should get back a bit more again to the good old racing skills of being fast enough, skilled enough and brave enough.

Q: We are five races into the season. What was positive and what was negative so far?
SV:
I think there are a lot of positives to report. The results speak for themselves. Two wins in five races - doesn’t that sound good? And even the races where we haven’t been at the very top I wouldn’t dismiss as negative - even the races with a third and two fourth places have been a success, given our abilities in that very moment. I would say that even then we got the maximum out of the situation. Sure the tyres are still a consideration, especially as they are not behaving the same everywhere. It is always trial and error as to what works on a track and what doesn’t - even if you think that you’ve figured out everything from the data. It is a pretty tough intellectual task, but it’s also what makes Formula One so unique and what fans love and why they follow the sport around the world.

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