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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: We know we have to raise our game

20 Mar 2016

Sebastian Vettel pushed Mercedes all the way in Australia, bagging a strong podium for third in the process - but both he and Ferrari are keenly aware it could have been even better. Having seen his hopes of victory slip through his fingers via a decisive strategy call, Vettel admits there is still a lot of work to do for Ferrari...

Q: Sebastian, if you recap your race wouldn’t you give it the title: so near yet so far…

Sebastian Vettel: Ha, I think there is nothing really to complain and be sad about! We’ve been really close to winning. Sure the red flag didn’t help us at all but that is all water under the bridge. Our speed in the race was clearly better than in qualifying so there are a lot of positives to take from today. And then the start: that was really fantastic. We’ve given it our all but probably in some situations we could have had a better strategy. But that is always easy to say in hindsight. In those moments we were convinced that it was the right call. The supersoft tyres probably gave up a bit too early. Of course we knew that I had to pit again but in the last stint I could not fully use the advantage of the new set of tyres - even though I was significantly faster, I was not fast enough to pass. In the last but one lap I tried to force it; that was a mistake but it didn't change the result.

Q: What was the idea behind using two sets of supersoft tyres at the beginning of the race?

SV: We had saved a set of supersofts from qualifying and didn’t want to run into issues with the warming up of the tyres, as this was clearly one of our weak spots last year. That the safety car would come in at that point caught us a bit by surprise but in the end there was also no need for it to stay out for another lap. We can live with P3. Unfortunately the second car didn’t see the chequered flag, otherwise we would have bagged many more points.

Q: Let’s talk about your fabulous start. It was an eye opener for everybody and your team boss Maurizio Arrivabene almost fell from his seat…

SV: Thank God I was buckled-up otherwise it would have kicked me out of my seat as well! (laughs) I was also surprised about that chance believe me. I immediately remembered the Hungarian race last year: that was the pattern. I was able to move between the two Mercedes to the front and when I looked in the mirror and saw another red car, that was a bit of an extra kick as with that situation we could control the race in that phase. Then came the red flag and that didn’t help. But it was good to see that both guys got out of their cars unharmed, that was all that mattered.

Q: Was it a mistake not to switch to medium tyres as all the others did?

SV: In hindsight everything is always crystal clear but in that very moment we thought that it was the right decision. Maybe there would have been a better solution but we will have to look at the data about that. It was a good day as we were much closer. Yes, it’s a bit sad not to win if you’re so close to it and see it slipping out of your hands.

Q: Do you have to be bolder than others?

SV: Probably yes. We weren't the favourites today – especially after qualifying yesterday – but we were able to control the race at times which means that we are closer than qualifying suggested. I tried everything, as I said probably a bit too much - but as the gap to Daniel (Ricciardo) was significant no harm was done.

Q: Is the result one that you can easily live with?

SV: Hah! If you are so close that you almost can smell victory and then finish in P3, that is not exactly ideal - but I can live with it as the race demonstrated that we are much closer. The gap has narrowed significantly.

Q: From what we’ve seen today it seems to be clear that this won’t be a boring season, that Ferrari won’t let Mercedes run away…

SV: …that is what we hope! We know that we have to raise our game and the good news is that we have to potential to do it.

Q: Next stop is Bahrain, a completely different track. What do you expect there?

SV: Last year we did well there. And if I learned something from this weekend then it is this: Melbourne was a bit of a weak point for us last year, and we did surprisingly well today. That means that our car is stronger, giving us more opportunities, and that should also work in Bahrain. When you finish a season in P2 in the constructors’ championship you clearly want to do better the following year. That is our goal and I think it is feasible.