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Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Keeping Kimi the right decision

08 Jul 2016

Friday at Silverstone brought news that Ferrari have retained Kimi Raikkonen for 2017 to once more partner Sebastian Vettel. Team principal Maurizio Arrivebene says the early announcement will relieve the pressure on Raikkonen, but what does Vettel think? The German spoke to the media about this and other topics following the opening practice sessions for the 2016 Formula One British Grand Prix…

Q: Sebastian, whatever happened on the track today was overshadowed by the news that Kimi Raikkonen will be your team mate for another season. Is that something that gets your nod?

Sebastian Vettel: I think it was the right thing to do. We are both pushing very hard in the primary target to catch the leaders - Mercedes - so there is plenty work ahead of us.

Q: We have recently seen some high-profile team mate clashes. What about Kimi and you?

SV: I would say that Kimi and I have the fewest ego problems in the whole paddock - and that should be good for the team in the long run. Working in the same direction will pay off. On the track we both race hard - also against each other, but there is no personal agenda attached to it.

Q: Is Kimi the easiest team mate that you ever had?

SV: It is the least complicated. But in the end I’ve got along with all my team mates. Yes, there have been little issues here and there. But with Kimi there are no politics - and that is good and keeps everything quiet.

Q: Before we come on to this weekend’s Grand Prix, can we look back to Austria and your rather spectacular exit from the race. No doubt Ferrari and Pirelli worked together to find the cause of your tyre failure…

SV: Actually, to make an analysis was not so easy because there was not much left of the tyre. But what we’ve got from Pirelli as explanation was that debris caused the damage. In such a case, what can you do? It was a pity because at that point in the race it looked pretty promising for us. I think we would have delivered a good race.

Q: There has also been speculation that perhaps your strategy was a bit too risky - going that far on the tyre. Was that so?

SV: I don’t believe so. And in hindsight if it really was debris that caused the tyre to go bust, it could have also happened in the second lap and not necessarily after 25. So I don’t see that our strategy had anything to do with what happened.

Q: It was, of course, a devastating weekend as a lot of points went down the drain - and then there was the danger of the incident. How will you be handling tyre strategy in the future? You obviously get a recommendation from Pirelli about how many laps are possible…

SV: Ha. Already being on the starting grid holds an element of risk. That goes for everybody. We all know that the cars are built on the limit and we all know that something can happen at any time. And if you are the one that is a pity - but thank God nothing happened and that is the most important fact. But in F1 you never can fully eliminate risk - only if you don’t get into the car. Having said that, I think it is not necessary for us to change anything in our behaviour or strategy.

Q: Bernie Ecclestone whispered something in your ear after your crash. What did he say?

SV: The nature of somebody whispering something in your ear is that it is only meant for that person. I hope you get that. (laughs)

Q: Then let’s speak about how satisfied you are with your situation so far. It’s mid-season - and no win…

SV: I think we can be happy with our package, but of course not fully satisfied. Yes, we’ve made a significant step forward - closed the gap further - but not there where we want to be. The step we’ve made is not as big as we would have wanted. And our races so far have not been the easiest ones - so my guess is if that element of irritation goes away we will be able to show our true colours.

Q: So what true colours did you show today? In both sessions you clocked the fourth-best time - so not bad, but also no big improvement…

SV: Well, it was pretty tricky - especially in the afternoon as it was quite windy. My feeling tells me that the long runs were okay, but we will have to analyse the data to see where we are compared to the others. My guess is that we will have quite some work to do until tomorrow to improve the car. The bottom line today was that we understood the glitches and will work to eliminate them.