Season run-in has set up 2018 perfectly - Vettel Q&A
Sebastian Vettel's 2017 title hopes might have been extinguished in Mexico - but the German isn't taking defeat lying down. First up are two final chances for Ferrari to win... and by extension, the opportunity to carry momentum into 2018, which is already shaping up to be a dramatic three-team fight for silverware...
Q: Sebastian, after losing the title fight in Mexico, how difficult is it to turn the page and come here fully motivated?
Sebastian Vettel: In the first moment it is for sure difficult to go back to business as usual. It's hard. That's why it is good that you go to another race - that helps! The moment you get into the car the musing about the ifs and buts of the past 18 races stops abruptly and you focus again only on the driving. That is why I am really looking forward to these last two races. Maybe losing out is a bit easier to come to terms with when there are still two races to go than losing at the very last race, and having to go home with a defeat.
Q: For sure you don't want to sneak out of this season without an impressive departure. How much of a tailwind would that mean for the build-up of 2018?
SV: A lot, particularly as there are no rule changes and the car that ends up on top in 2017 should be able to carry this into 2018. Everything that we learn here and in Abu Dhabi is a good step for next season. So lifting off the throttle would be the completely wrong thing to do!
Q: How much did you have to lift the throttle today? Any concerns?
SV: This is Friday – so no big surprises. We've been able to go through our programme and did a lot of laps. Yes in terms of speed we have to find more pace tomorrow if we want to be at the very front - it was obvious that Mercedes were the benchmark today, and behind them it is pretty tight between Red Bull and us. My guess is that in race trim things will look slightly different so the main task tomorrow is to balance the car better – and then we should be faster.
Q: How many 2018-spec parts were on the car today?
SV: I think rumours are wobbling through the paddock that there are massive parts on the car for 2018... the fact is that the whole season is a preparation for 2018 as there will not be rules changes other than the halo. So everything we've learned this season will find its way onto the car in 2018...
Q: Ferrari made headlines recently in regards to proposed new engine regulations - do you have an opinion on these matters?
SV: I have vaguely heard about it but have no opinion on it as long as it is not carved in stone!
Q: Ferrari President Sergio Marchionne identified driver mistakes as one of the reasons for the loss of the championships this year. Is he right with his judgement? Is there anything you would have done differently in hindsight?
SV: I think what he said is fair enough. Of course you would do things differently - otherwise you wouldn't learn from mistakes. I think we all agree that we didn't have the season that we could have had – or should have had! For obvious reasons...
Q: In his opinion the Ferrari right now is the best car on the grid. That sounds like massive pressure to deliver wins in the last two races…
SV: We have a chance to win the races, yes! As I said before: if we find a better balance that should make us faster. The long run was promising.
Q: How much of a foretaste will these last two races be in regards to the 2018 championship? In the last couple of races it was no longer a two horse race between Mercedes and Ferrari: Red Bull have upped their game and are now serious contenders too...
SV: Yes, we will see two hard fought races – that's for sure. If that is a foretaste for 2018 I would not dare to make a prediction. There is the possibility to design a new car over the winter and maybe one gets it a bit more right than the other – who knows! But one thing is for sure: the tighter it gets the more fun it is in the car – and the more fun it is to watch!
Q: Lewis Hamilton also said that he would very much enjoy a season with three teams fighting for the title. Would you also agree? You, Lewis... and Max Verstappen? Or is Max still a bit too much of a troublemaker?
SV: To be honest, if we are among those fighting for the title I don't care if we are only two or if there are 10 others! Maybe the more we have, the more exciting it will be!
Q: Would you say that Lewis 'deserves' the title?
SV: To win the title you have to score the most points – and he scored more points than anybody else so he deserves it!