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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Rhythm of Suzuka ‘simply awesome’

25 Sep 2015

Like pretty much all the drivers, Ferrari’s Sebastian Vettel was forced to concede that it was hard to tell what he had learnt from Friday’s running at Suzuka, thanks to the wet conditions. One thing that’s not in doubt, however, is his love of the classic circuit. After practice Vettel gave his first impressions of his Japanese Grand Prix weekend…

Q: Sebastian, what have you learned from today’s running?

Sebastian Vettel: That depends! If it is wet tomorrow and on Sunday - a lot. If it stays dry - and the forecast points in that direction - then nothing. Of course we tried to do some laps - which was not easy at all as there was quite a lot of water on the track. It is also almost impossible to compare to anything others did - and whenever I say that Friday’s times don’t mean a lot, that is absolutely true for today. It was not a day to draw much of a conclusion. As for us, I don’t think that we were where we wanted to be at the beginning. Maybe at the end we’ve learned something, but as I said, if the weather changes to good conditions even that is of no importance.

Q: You and team mate Kimi Raikkonen did the most laps of anyone on what was a rather difficult Friday…

SV: Well, in these kinds of conditions a lot of it is up to the driver if he wants to continue or not. There was a lot of water on the track, but towards the end it was getting better so I stayed out. And Kimi obviously had the same idea.

Q: After that incredible Singapore Sunday, what will we see here in Japan?

SV: We will try our very best, that is for sure. But I also know that it will not be as easy as it was in Singapore. Yes, every Sunday holds a chance and we will do everything to put ourselves in the best possible position - and then let’s see what we can do. We are clearly not the favourites for this weekend when you look at the championship.

Q: What does it mean to you, coming to a circuit where you have had so much success and good fortune - and won a championship?

SV: Well, there have been races where I had a bit of luck here, yes, but I honestly hope that it was not all down to luck. It’s no secret that I like this track. The rhythm of it is just awesome, with a lot of fast corners. That’s what always makes drivers happy! (laughs) And the fans here are also truly special. They are crazy in a very positive way about Formula One.

Q: Last Sunday it looked as if Ferrari have moved a step closer to Mercedes. So what are your thoughts in these conditions? Do you think that there is a carry over?

SV: That is very difficult to say after today’s running. Yes, Singapore was a big surprise in seeing Mercedes so far down - and if they keep us surprised in that way I would not mind, but I doubt it. We have to keep our feet on the ground. There is still a lot for us to do - a lot of potential is waiting to be unlocked and as to whether that is happening here, let’s wait and see. I think tomorrow afternoon we all will be much wiser! (laughs)

Q: You wanted to win three races this season - that was accomplished in Singapore. With five races still to go do you think you can challenge Lewis Hamilton for the championship?

SV: Ha, of course it is better to be closer than further away, but there is still a massive gap. Yes, there are still five races to go and as I said before every Sunday means a new opportunity, but I find it wrong to talk about the championship at this moment. We know that there is still a lot of work to do - but we also know that our improvement rate is really good, even if we are aware that changes don’t happen from one day to the next.

Q: Of the top three drivers in the standings, it’s you who has scored the most points from the last three races…

SV: I would not read too much into that and project it on the future. We will work this weekend as we have worked the whole season, with the aim to get the maximum out of our performance - and then let’s see where that leaves us.

Q: If Hamilton is not the immediate target, what about Nico Rosberg? He is only seven points ahead of you…

SV: …we take it as it comes. I think it is fair to say that we are doing much better than we had thought possible at the beginning of the season, but I think it is the ‘healthiest’ for us if we take it every race at a time - make the most out of it - and then look where it takes us, and not get too carried away with mathematical exercises! (laughs)