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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: I'm fighting with the car

20 Apr 2014

For the first time since 2012, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel has been bested by his team mate in two consecutive races. But why did the world champion seem to struggle so much in Sunday’s Grand Prix in China? After the race Vettel explained all to reporters…

Q: Sebastian, looking at your start it seemed like you got away very well, but what happened then?

Sebastian Vettel: Yes, I think I had the best start of the first three cars, but of course it was not enough to catch Lewis (Hamilton). Then it became difficult in the first stint, as Lewis pulled away quite fast and I did not have any slipstream. Luckily I could stay ahead of Fernando (Alonso) in the beginning. Then probably I came in for my first pit stop a lap too late, but looking at the result it would not have made a big difference. During the race I just did not have the grip to keep up with Fernando, as on the long back straight the DRS zone only begins somewhere close to the middle of it, and up until that point the Ferrari just pulled away and then there was no chance to get close enough again to attempt to overtake. Overall there was not a lot more that I could do than P5, as the gaps were just too big to the frontrunners. I could have maybe saved two, or even three seconds in total if I avoided fighting for position with Nico (Rosberg) but still the result would have been exactly the same in my opinion.

Q: No driver likes to move over for his team mate - and you don’t have a history for doing that. So did you move over for Daniel Ricciardo or did you just run wide?

SV: I did move over. Although initially I did not understand why (I had to) because we were on the same tyres, unlike in Bahrain, and that was also the reason why I double-checked when I got the call from the pit wall. At that point Daniel (Ricciardo) was on a different strategy, and I realised that I had to move over, as there was no point of holding him back with him having a two-stop strategy. At that point in time I was still on a three-stop, which we changed later on, also to a two-stop strategy. Towards the end of the race I also realized that I did not have the pace, which was not really clear to me at that earlier stage, and which you could see in the result of me having a 24 second gap. I was even happy to keep the distance to Nico (Hulkenberg), and not lose another position.

Q: How is it for you to drive in a car that you do not feel too comfortable in?

SV: Well, I am not yet where I want to be, and I’m pretty much fighting with the car. It is an ongoing process. Sometimes it feels that we are making one step forward, but then also one backward again. Hopefully we are able to make some steps into the right direction for the upcoming races. In general, I am not unhappy about the result today, I am unhappier about the condition that we are in.

Q: How much are you pinning your hopes on the upgrades that are coming at upcoming races?

SV: Obviously we know where our main weaknesses are, and this is not in the corners (laughs). At the beginning of this race I did not have a chance to overtake Fernando (Alonso) and this is why I decided to drop back. What happened next I do not know, and I do not fully understand yet. I was very slow on the prime tyres.

Q: How do you see your championship chances for this year?

SV: For sure not easy - definitely not a walk in the park as we still cannot think about catching up with Mercedes. Then again, the season is not over - at least I have not heard that yet - so we are still facing a long year. So anything should be possible - still! The truth is that we have a great car, and now we need to work on the upgrades and implement them in the best possible way to make sure we get more power out of the engine.