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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: 'Don't worry about me guys!'

20 Jun 2014

From the outside at least, reigning world champion Sebastian Vettel is having a pretty tough season - just fifth in the standings, with upstart team mate Daniel Ricciardo having scored Red Bull’s only 2014 victory to date, and rivals Mercedes seemingly running away with both titles. However, as Vettel explained in Austria on Friday, there are two sides to every story…

Q: Sebastian, Red Bull come here following their best result of the season so far - but it was Daniel Ricciardo on the top spot of the podium. Is Daniel the toughest team mate of your F1 career?

Sebastian Vettel: Well, it is no secret that the year so far wasn’t the smoothest for me. We had a lot of difficulties to overcome, but when you look at where we were in winter testing then we have made a fantastic step forward. Looking at the whole situation I have to say that he wasn’t giving me a harder time than I used to have with other team mates. Of course, if you look at the results it is correct to say that he has been in front most of the time - and in previous years I was in front of Mark [Webber] most of the time - but from that you cannot draw any conclusions as every race is a different story. There are always two sides of a story. He is doing a good job - I do not doubt that. He has had the ability to get the maximum out of the car since race one - and on my side, well, we had a couple of things to overcome, so it is good that the other half is doing well.

Q: So what has to happen for ‘both halves’ to do better?

SV: We are making progress, but that is easier said than done as sometimes you take one step forward one weekend and the next you take one step back. There is a lot of experimenting going on as the tools that we have are very different to those we had last year. Setting them up and making them communicate with each other in the right manner - and giving you the right feeling in the car - is quite complicated, as it is not a case of okay let’s change this or that and then we’ve solved the problem. I think we are on the right track. There is already a big improvement in how comfortable I feel in the car.

Q: What about the rumours that are popping up again that you are thinking of moving to Ferrari?

SV: Ha, these kinds of rumours come up once a year, so I am never surprised when it is ‘Ferrari rumour’ time again.

Q: But isn’t the fact that Adrian Newey is to step back from the daily business of the team a warning signal for you?

SV: Not at all. I have known Adrian now for quite some years - we’ve had fantastic victories together - and I know he loves motor racing so much that he will always be around. I really can’t see him doing something else to be honest.

Q: How do you assess your season so far? It’s been a far cry from previous years…

SV: That’s pretty simple. I get to see all the data that I produce on the track and that can give you a lot of answers. As a matter of fact I didn’t run that much in winter testing and I didn’t run that much on the (early) race weekends, so things weren’t that straightforward. But I think the clean race weekends that we have had in terms of performance were alright. Would I love to be quicker? Yes, of course. And that answer indicates that there is still a hell of a lot of work ahead of us - trying to get the car in the right window and close the gap to the Mercedes a bit more.

Q: What is it that you as the driver can do to close that gap to the Mercedes cars? In this morning’s session there was a 1.7 second gap between pacesetter Nico Rosberg and you in P15…

SV: Well, this was Friday morning and we did try a lot of different things on the car. And as to what the driver can do - a lot. But it is definitely more complicated than last year to set-up the car. You probably know best how to proceed as you immediately feel it. I think we are on a good path, so guys, don’t worry about me! (laughs)

Q: Let’s have a look at this weekend. How do you like this track?

SV: It’s a sophisticated track, even though it’s not a very long track. It doesn’t have so many corners, but those that are there are really exciting. And with the up-and-down layout it is clear that you need quite some speed. But once you are up on the Remus corner the view is pretty different to every other track - green, green, green.

Q: But obviously the track was a different sort of ‘green’ this morning…

SV: Ha, yes, probably. I went a bit off track - got into the grass that was still wet and slippery - and there you go. I think both of us didn’t feel that comfortable in the morning, but that improved in the afternoon. We are still sorting out if the updates that we have brought here will stay on the car or not. We will discuss that in the evening, as we have seen that with rising temperatures our cars do better and the forecast predicts quite warm conditions on Saturday and in the race on Sunday. That should play to our advantage.

Q: But over 1.2 seconds behind the leaders - that is quite something from Mercedes…

SV: We didn’t have any illusions about the first two positions, but behind them it is impossible to make any predictions as we don’t have any reference data from this track. My guess is that we will be able to improve our performance tomorrow and then let’s see what Sunday brings. Of course we want to shine here.