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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: We've made a step forward from Melbourne

28 Mar 2014

Sebastian Vettel’s title defence got off to the worst possible start two weeks ago in Australia with an early race retirement. But things were looking much more promising after the first day of running in Malaysia with the Red Bull driver much closer to the front running pace. On Friday evening Vettel spoke about his Melbourne frustrations and his hopes for this weekend in Sepang…

Q: Sebastian, let’s go back to the Melbourne weekend: how much frustration was there - and how fast did it vanish?

Sebastian Vettel: Of course there is always a certain level of frustration when things don’t go the way you want them to. Saturday was already a bit unpleasant - but there was still hope that it could be a reasonable race. But there is a saying in German that hope is the sister of despair - and on the Sunday it proved true. We had to realise that there would not be a happy Sunday evening - and that brings out the frustration. We knew that a happy Sunday evening wouldn’t be easy to achieve and that was the reason why frustration was gone pretty fast.

Q: In previous years, you could tell just by looking at your face when you were frustrated. Nowadays you seem able to laugh things off a bit more…

SV: Well, you’re always most upset when you have yourself to blame for things going wrong. This season everything is still so fresh and new - and so many little things can have big effects - that frustration is not the right answer to these challenges. The fact that Daniel (Ricciardo) was doing so well in the race - that he was able to keep up with the pace until the end - that gave quite a lot of hope for the next races.

Q: Coming to this weekend: you ended FP2 in P3, within striking distance to the cars in front. You must count that as a good day…

SV: Overall yes, even if everything didn’t go smoothly, I’m happy that it didn’t rain! We are still learning every time we go on the track - and those findings we have to analyse and implement where necessary.

Q: How about reliability?

SV: I think we understood where the problems were and addressed them - but that doesn’t mean that they cannot happen again. When you upload new software it can cause some glitches and the problems we had to deal with today were in the majority related to the new software, albeit different problems than two weeks ago. The car itself seems to be great - it’s basically all about the data package that causes the issues. It’s all about programming the car! It doesn’t sound right, but that’s the way it is. Sometimes the best you can do is to turn off the car and start it up again - just like you would do with your computer at home! (laughs) And then sometimes things get lost in the bits and bytes - like what happened in Australia: after the race when we restarted the car everything was working perfectly again. That’s how the electronics can trick you!

Q: What do you read out of Friday's times? Normally you don't read too much from them, but compared to two weeks ago it seems you’ve put on a pair of magic boots…

SV: I still don’t read too much into Friday times , but yes, it was quite a step forward compared to Melbourne. And now let’s hope that this weekend the glitches pass us by! Melbourne has always been a good track for us - we want to keep it that way!

Q: So what do you expect for the race?

SV: This is a track where anything can happen. We’ve seen such changeable conditions over the years - apocalyptic thunderstorms once in a while - that surprises are always possible. Should conditions remain good, my prediction is that we will pretty much fight ourselves, as we are not at a stage yet where everything is one hundred percent reliable. But we are getting better - every lap seems to help us. But nevertheless it seems to be a fact that we are not going into the race as favourites.