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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Ferrari now all speaking the same language

23 Oct 2015

This weekend’s race in Austin is Sebastian Vettel’s 16th with Ferrari, and in that time the Scuderia have got closer and closer to Mercedes ultimate pace. But what has made the difference? Will there be further advances in 2016? And does the German anticipate regular wheel-to-wheel battles with Lewis Hamilton next year? Vettel answers all of these questions and more…

Q: Sebastian, Lewis Hamilton is closing in on his third world title. How was it for you bagging number three?

Sebastian Vettel: Well, when I remember back the first one was the most powerful! Number one meant: you are way above average. You will always remember the day when it happened. Number two was nice - but number three again was very emotional. It was in Brazil and so many odds were against me in that race - and then in the end it did happen! When you are on the track standing in the opposite direction and wanting to fight for the title - that is quite an adrenalin moment! But in the end it is always your particular year that you remember - and not how many did it before you.

Q: Lewis has made this season his own, but when you see the advancements that Ferrari have made lately, it raises the exciting prospect of wheel-to-wheel fights between you and he in 2016. How well do you get along with him?

SV: I hope that it will be the case that we will keep getting closer - at least that is the target - and probably he is not overly happy about this prospect, but I can see the beauty for the fans! And how do I get along with him? I think we both have enjoyed the battles that we’ve had on track so far and I hope that there is more to come in the future. Other than that he is quite different now from the time back when I first met him. So I concentrate on Lewis the racer: he is a very good driver who loves intense racing and who is a tough one to beat on the track.

Q: Your switch to Ferrari came pretty late last year, so you had very little influence on the development of the car - but that should all be different with the 2016 car…

SV: Obviously most of the decisions had already been taken but the season that we have had so far has been phenomenal so that was no downside. Of course this year I have given my input - so let’s see how it works out next season. When you see where Ferrari was last year and where it is now despite the massive changes on the human side, then it should not be a surprise when next year is another serious step forward.

Q: Can you say what the main things are that you have pushed for?

SV: Everybody should know by now that I like to keep these things to myself! (laughs) What I can say is that we have been working very hard to make this team work as a team! It was probably the main challenge this season that everybody speaks the same language when speaking about the car - that everybody understands when I mean when I communicate with the engineers about certain problems - and this is accomplished now. So from now on we can fully concentrate on the car performance in 2016!

Q: The conditions are very difficult here in Austin - and on top you will have a ten-place grid penalty for changing the engine - what kind of race do you see on Sunday?

Somehow it was always the plan to change engine here in Austin - so it’s no surprise. But don’t get me wrong - this is not a downside per se. We want to have the best engine available at every race in terms of performance.

Q: Looking at the practice session on Friday morning you did ten laps and ended in P6. Should that be an indications of where you stand here?

But we don’t know how the conditions change on Saturday and Sunday! Yes, we have done very few laps - but our preparations are on track as everybody else is in the same position as we are.

Q: There is a flood warning for Saturday what could mean that qualifying is on Sunday morning and the race in the afternoon. You had quite good experiences with that when looking back to Japan some years ago…

SV: Yes, that was unbelievable clocking pole position in the morning and winning the race in the afternoon. I would not mind to repeat that! (laughs) Pole will be tricky with the penalty - but for the race everything is possible!