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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Top-five China finish would be good

17 Apr 2014

Reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel has had a tough start to his title defence - three rounds into the 2014 season, just one podium finish, a new team mate pushing him hard, and little sign of Red Bull challenging for victories. Talking to the media in Shanghai ahead of this weekend’s 2014 Formula 1 UBS Chinese Grand Prix, Vettel spoke about Daniel Ricciardo, Mercedes’ dominance, Stefano Domenicali's departure and more…

Q: Has your team mate surprised you so far?

Sebastian Vettel: Not really surprised me. I think that he is doing a very good job. We both try to do our best, and from my side I am not there where I want to be, and there are probably a lot of reasons behind this. It is good to see that he is pushing hard and also to have a benchmark. In Bahrain he was doing very well and towards the end was maybe a bit stronger [than me]. Also he was able to get the car to work better at that moment, also in regards to the tyres. For sure it is every driver’s aim to first of all be able to beat your team mate. And maybe in the last couple of years, at least from my perspective, it was much closer than it appeared, as at the end of the day people see only the results and do not tend to look so much into the details. I also expect this to be the same for the future.

Q: The FIA has rejected the team’s appeal over Daniel’s disqualification in Australia. Do you think that this has an impact on how people see Red Bull Racing?

SV: First of all I would like to say, without going too much into technical details, that whatever Daniel’s car was doing in Australia it was not giving him any advantage. He got disqualified from the race on the same day, and we, the team feel that it was not right. This is why we felt the need to appeal this decision. Obviously there are rules that everyone needs to respect, and the way the FIA looked at it they came to the conclusion that we did not respect these rules. Of course this is a shame, as it is a big amount of points that were lost for Daniel’s championship and, of course, also for the constructors’ championship. How costly this loss will be, we will see at the end of the season.

Q: What do you think ahead of this weekend’s Chinese Grand Prix - will it be possible to close the gap to the Mercedes?

SV: It is a big gap at the moment. In Bahrain it looked quite bad for everyone bar Mercedes, but here in China it could be only a little bit different. Historically this track was one of the tracks that has favoured them, and we can expect them to be strong because of the nature of the track. Also they will be strong because they are in very good shape, which means that they are the favourites going into this race.

For us we know that we have made some improvements at the tests with our car and our power unit. All in all we expect to have made a step forward, but how big that step is we will see soon. It would be a massive surprise though if we could close the gap. We have to be realistic, and take a look at the previous races where we have lost almost one second per lap. To close this gap in one go is hopefully not totally impossible, but also being realistic this is very difficult. Being in the top five is what would be good for us.

Q: Having been very successful over the past couple of years, what will your goals be for the remainder of this season?

SV: Of course it is always the goal to win races, but being realistic our goal at the moment is to maximize the points that we can get. We know that Mercedes is better than us at the moment, and so we hope that we are able to close up in the near future to be able to compete for race wins again.

Q: What is your opinion on the news that Ferrari’s team principal has been changed at the beginning of this week?

SV: When I heard the news I was surprised myself, but I cannot really comment on any reasons, as this would be speculation only. I always had a good relationship with Stefano (Domenicali) and I wish him all the best for his future wherever it might take him.