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Vettel Q&A: Phone call helped ease Verstappen tensions

10 Nov 2016

Mercedes' Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton's looming title fight isn't the only source of interest in Brazil this weekend - indeed a lot of attention has been directed the way of Ferrari's Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull's Max Verstappen, who staged a dramatic - and acrimonious - finish last time out in Mexico. According to Vettel, though, all parties have already moved on - meaning his focus now switches to the final two opportunities to score a 2016 win…

Q: Sebastian, two weeks have passed since Mexico but events continue to be hotly debated in the paddock. Have you digested everything that happened - and has your view changed in any way?

Sebastian Vettel: It is digested, as we are now here in Brazil and preparing for this race weekend. But yes, the penalty was pretty painful, as we lost P3. 

Q: Is there any change in your relationship with Max Verstappen?

SV: I have been talking to him afterwards. It is clear that in such a situation there are always two sides to the matter, but I would say that we've been able to overcome any friction so I do not have any issues with him.

Q: Did you call him?

SV: Yes.

Q: What about the radio issue? Max already said before the Mexican race that he got ‘wise' and will reduce his conversation to simply yes, no or okay. What about you? 

SV: I would say that I have learned my lesson. In the end it is a matter that should be debated - whether emotional outbursts in a race situation should be aired or not. I suppose in the future there will be much less talking!

Q: How would you describe Max's driving style?

SV: We must never forget that he is doing a fantastic job given his age. So it should be normal that he still has got a lot to learn - that this is not a crowbar competition but racing.

Q: After all the discussions about driving styles and penalties would you say that you too have to adapt your driving style?

SV: No, I don't think so. The penalty was bitter and of course I am not happy about it, as I don't believe I deserved it. I was defending my position as I usually do - and did - so there was nothing in that situation that stood out compared to many similar race situations in the past. So the outcome - being suddenly called to the podium and hours later being downgraded to fifth - was not a happy moment. But now is a new weekend and we will focus on that. 

Q: How important was it for you to apologise to FIA race director Charlie Whiting?

SV: Well, I think everybody can imagine what was going through my head in that very moment - that Max has kept his position - so even if I addressed Charlie, it was more the situation that I was upset about. So the natural thing is to apologise and I was happy that he accepted it.

Q: There are few other sports where the audience can follow the instructions of the players. With F1, fans can hear their heroes - but it is tricky when some audio is questionable. Should F1 rethink the radio access to drivers?

SV: I can imagine that the fans like it when they can witness a driver giving it their all - but you also can overshoot when everything goes on air. I imagine that many conversations among soccer players would not be fit for airing -but obviously it is different in F1. Of course you learn from such an experience! 

Q: Interlagos in many respects is a very special circuit. As someone who has had their moments here in the past, how would you describe it?

SV: It is a fantastic track with all the ups and downs - and with a clear tendency for drama. I know what I am talking about! (laughs) I am very much looking forward to race here again.

Q: It will again be a fierce fight between Nico Rosberg - who could leave Sao Paulo as the new champion - and Lewis Hamilton. How does it feel, not being part of that title fight for a third consecutive year? And will that change in 2017?

SV: We clearly have the expectations to have a say on the title outcome in 2017. Unfortunately it was not meant to be this year, but for the two remaining races we want to show the world and especially our fans that we are real fighters and that we give everything that we have!