Q: Sebastian, has your Malaysian victory - and what it means for Ferrari and Mercedes - sunk in by now?
Sebastian Vettel: Ha, yes. One thing is for sure: we celebrated ‘heavily' in Malaysia. But in the end you go back to the season routine very quickly, which means putting your head down and keeping on working. We know that there is still a gap that we have to close - the smart strategy of the Malaysia race cannot hide that fact. We want to cement our position and stay realistic - to look ahead and not behind, even if looking behind is fantastic. But of course it was something special, the first win in red with Ferrari. It will always have a very special place in my memory.
Q: And have you listened to the team radio as you crossed the line?
SV: Yep, and I realised that my Italian still needs some improvement. And it will. (laughs)
Q: Are you aware of what you triggered in Italy? It was the Scuderia's first win in quite some time…
SV: No, I've been in Malaysia! But I can imagine. Isn't it wonderful to witness such euphoria? But as I said, we have to stay realistic - and the fans slow down their euphoria. There is a German saying that translates: high spirits seldom do you good! I always took that to heart. We are working very hard so that the two strong races we've delivered will not be a flash in the pan.
Q: Everything that you say in connection to your Malaysia win effectively means stay grounded, don't try to live on cloud nine…
SV: That is the only way to move forward. Trying to take residence on cloud nine never does you any good. Of course having reached victory at such an early stage of the season - to see that you have a car that is a super platform to build on - is an immense boost in motivation. But we are aiming very high, and only hard work will get us there.
Q: How grateful are the team? Looking at them during the podium ceremony clearly showed that you had given them something special...
SV: And vice versa - they've also given me a win after quite some time! And it was a win with Ferrari. I guess for every driver it is a fantastic feeling to win a race, but even more so if that win is with Ferrari. Looking down from the podium at the sea of red - at the engineers and mechanics singing the Italian anthem with great fervour - is something I will never forget.
Q: Is working and pushing now easier?
SV: No. I don't think that the Malaysian result makes a huge difference, as we all know where we want to go and what we want to achieve, and that this only will happen with hard work. Probably a little kick. And sometimes a little kick helps!
Q: And you were in Maranello after the victory…
SV: Yes, I was. I had booked the simulator for Wednesday after the race - and of course when I booked that slot I didn't know that I would come back with a victory. So we also had a little lunch celebration there.
Q: The whole Formula One fan base gasped in relief after your win. Did that reach you?
SV: Of course. For fans it is probably a bit boring if a driver wins race after race - even if I have to say that I felt quite comfortable when I was in that situation - so it is surely welcomed if another challenger enters the ring to spice up the situation. And believe me, I want to spice it up!
Q: How much more difficult will it be to beat Mercedes here, in conditions significantly cooler than in Malaysia? Mercedes admitted that the Malaysian conditions were not ideal for them…
SV: I think we won in Malaysia not because they had a problem, but because we earned it. But as I said before, we have to stay realistic. The gap that they had in winter testing and in Australia - true, not in Malaysia - but this gap doesn't disappear by snapping the fingers unfortunately. It will be paramount to have a clear weekend: no mistakes, no issues with the car, and then let's see where that takes us.