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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Ferrari in a better position now than a year ago

25 Nov 2016

This weekend brings to a close what can only be described as a slightly disappointing and frustrating season for Ferrari, who have thus far failed to register a single victory after taking three in 2015. We caught up with the man who claimed those wins, Sebastian Vettel, to get his take on the year gone, the year ahead - and whether the Prancing Horse will leave Abu Dhabi with its head held high…

Q: Sebastian, it’s the last race of the season – and it’s been a pretty mixed one for Ferrari. What has to happen on Sunday to go home with a bit of a smile on your face?

Sebastian Vettel: Difficult to say as in the end we are still missing a victory! If that were to happen on Sunday – yes, that would put a smile on my face! But wishful thinking is never helpful in Formula One. So I would say that if we’ve done everything right and have placed both cars in the best possible position – whatever that means on Sunday – then we should be able to walk back home with our heads held high.

Q: Last year Ferrari won three races. Did you enter this season on false assumptions?

SV: I wouldn’t say that! But of course if you have won a couple of races and finished the season in P2 you want to do the next step the following year – and we indeed had every reason to be confident for 2016, but somehow what we had expected didn’t materialise. Others have probably made more progress and we have not been able to close the gap fast enough. But even if from the outside it might look a bit different, I know that a lot has happened within the team for the better – which means that we are definitely better positioned than one year ago – and next season the plan is that things come our way!

Q: Are the rules changes a chance or a threat?

SV: Both I would say. For all of us! Sure if things were to stay the same those who are at the front now would have an easy ride and there would be less of a chance for those who are behind – but experience has also shown that if things stay the same the gap is getting tighter with every year. But with such massive changes my guess is that we again will see the gap widening again. But there is the massive chance that if you get it right you can make a huge leap forward. 

Q: At the end of this weekend you could end up either P4 or P5 in the drivers’ standings, as Max (Verstappen) is only 5 points behind. Does it make a difference to you where you finish? Max said he does not really care as he only cares about winning…

SV: Yes, it makes a difference for me!

Q: To keep P4 it obviously has to work well for you on Sunday. Are you confident from how it went today?

SV: Well, FP2 was clearly better and I felt much more comfortable in the car than in FP1 in the early afternoon. And as the race is around that time on Sunday I am pretty confident that the conditions should help us. The long run was probably not as good as I would have hoped, but all the runs before that left me believing that we should be quite competitive. But to be fair I haven’t looked so much at what others were doing. 

Q: You have won four titles - are you still so keen to add more?

SV: Is that a joke? We are all here to become champion, no matter how many you already have under your belt. It is a matter that is somehow larger than life. Everything is turning around it! Sure the first title win was something very special – I was able to prove to myself that I can make it.  With the titles that followed I was a bit more relaxed, but the ambition is always there. That never dies.

Q: Assuming the fight for the title will be fought at the very front, how much influence can you have in the outcome?

SV: Difficult to say – and in the end I don’t want to get involved in that process. Frankly speaking my best-case scenario would be to be ahead of them! But for that we have to get everything right tomorrow and on Sunday. Generally I would say that we’ve been missing a bit of speed throughout the whole season, and that has not changed today - so it will not be an easy Sunday, but we will fight with everything that we have!

Q: What’s your guess: who will be the champion on Sunday?

SV: We are here to find that out! But in the end it is not our focus to muse over who will be champion – we have to look after ourselves and deliver the best weekend possible.