Vettel: There’s a lot more to come and we’ll take things step by step
28 October, 2012
Oct.28 (FIA) Sebastian Vettel’s remarkable late season surge continued at the Indian Grand Prix, making it a quartet of wins out of the four last races and having led every lap of three of those grands prix. At Buddh International Circuit he scored win number two in India, and with it increased his lead in the 2012 F1 World Drivers’ Championship title contest which he is aiming to add to the two titles he has already bagged in 2010 and 2011.
Did you help design this race track or something? You seem so at home here, as a driver and with your car.
Sebastian Vettel: I think it’s been an incredible two years for us, both times to come here and win the race, get the pole on Saturday and win the race on Sunday is fantastic. There’s always a very nice trophy so I’m very, very happy to pick up another nice one this year, so a very special grand prix. I don’t know what is it about this circuit but I really like the flow of it. Sector One is a bit slow with long straights but Sector Two and Three are really nice and I think we all enjoy it. Big thanks to the team, as I said on the radio, every single one is pushing very hard and I think there’s not one thing that stands out and makes the difference: not today’ not yesterday; not this weekend. I think it’s all of us working hand in hand together. If we’re here on the track or back in Milton Keynes, everyone is pushing hard and I think that’s what makes the difference. I’m very, very happy, I’m glad to be part of that and just enjoying the moment.
You’ve led every race, every lap for three consecutive races now. The last man to do that was the great Ayrton Senna in 1989, you’re in great company and you’re clearly on great form.
SV: Don’t say things like that! It’s very, very special. I think we all will remember Ayrton forever, not just because he was successful and he had these kinds of numbers speaking for him but he was a great person. So very, very happy.
We see some amazing names up here, champions including Fernando alongside you and you’re on there twice. Surely you must feel now that you’ve got one hand on that world championship trophy for 2012.
SV: The other one is probably Fernando and there are other ones as well. So I think if we speak about the world championship, obviously this was another good step for us but still a long way to go and we have seen this year how quickly things can change. As I said earlier, it feels fantastic to be up here and have a race like that where everything works the way you want it to. Yeah, very, very proud, very, very happy and enjoying it. That was today. Now we are focusing on Abu Dhabi next week. There’s a lot more to come and we’ll try to take things step by step.
Your fourth win in succession, which is amazing. And your thoughts on that…
SV: As you said, it’s pretty amazing obviously. It’s very hard to target those kind of things. I think they either happen or they don’t happen. I think the secret, if there is any, is that we didn’t approach the first of those four races thinking we can win four. We focussed on the first one, then on the second one, then on the third one, then on the fourth one. So, really step by step. I think, as I said on the radio and earlier, I think the whole team is working together fantastically well. I don’t think there is one thing that stands out to make a difference. We can see that in every kind of area. We don’t have any problems on Friday, we get through our programme, we get more or less the answers we want, we are able to improve the car from Friday to Saturday with support here on the track but also in the factory. Guys helping us to improve the car. We get the most out of it in qualifying. We had a fantastic race today. Great pitstops as well, obviously those things are easy to forget and easy to remember when they go wrong but I think the pitstops were fantastic – at least the one I had. It takes a lot of discipline, focus in the right moment, to be there, to be sharp and I think we were in the moment. Not thinking about yesterday or last week or last race and not thinking about the end of the race or next week. So, really tried to focus on the moment, which I think is the best thing we can do to maximise the result today. As I said, I’m very happy, I enjoyed the race a lot. I think it was crucial to open a gap in the first stint to break the DRS early to Mark, who had a very good start I think, and it was quite close in Turn One. But I was able to brake a little bit late and have quite a good exit out of Turn Three, which was important for the remainder of the race, and then was able to open a gap, not just to Mark but also to the cars behind and obviously control the race from there. I think we were very competitive on the soft tyres; on the hard tyres I think McLarens and Ferrari were pretty competitive. Unfortunately Mark lost KERS but as I said, I think we were probably not as competitive on the primes as on the soft tyres but all in all a fantastic race. And again a fantastic trophy this year in India. Just very, very happy.
A pretty amazing 33 laps on used soft tyres...
SV: To be honest it’s difficult to know when you start the race how long you can go – but I think we felt after a couple of laps that the tyres were holding up reasonably well and then when you cross around 15/16 to 20 laps with still something in the tyres left, you obviously know it goes more to the direction of one stop. I think it was anyway always going to be one or two stops. On Friday the tyres seemed to last fairly well and again they did today. So yeah, it’s not always happening like that, sometimes we have a surprise on Sunday, so I think we prepared as much as we could but by that stage it was obviously clear to not split the 27 remaining laps in two bits: so to go with the prime stint and do the same as everyone else did. I think we all came the pits within five to ten laps.
Were you actually being pushed in by Mark at the end there, back into the pits? Had you ran out of fuel?
SV: Ah yes! I switched off the car. I was told to park the car under the podium but I didn’t know how far away it was. I didn’t remember that from last year. I think it’s the only big mistake that happened to us this weekend. But it didn’t really matter and Mark gave me a push. He’s quite popular for those sort of things. I think he gave Fernando a lift last year in Nürburgring when he had to stop on track. Yeah, gave me a little bit of a push to make it to Park Ferme to stop the car. Thank you.
Now that you have been a part of two editions of the Indian Grand Prix, is there one unique feature about this track, destination or venue, which you find distinctly different from the others that you race at around the world, fans included?
SV: I think every grand prix is special and has something special about it. Obviously it’s the second time that we’ve run here. So far, all the quotes from the drivers regarding this circuit have been very positive. It’s a lot of fun for us. It’s not so easy to manage the tyres in one lap for qualifying, but also over the race, so it’s a big challenge and I think that’s what we like. There are some corners, like turn 15, where you always think that something went wrong and you will try and do it better next time. You get challenged to the limit which is obviously what we like. We don’t want to make mistakes but obviously we like those sort[s] of places. On top of that, I think it’s an impressive country. Obviously last year I had a bit of time to have a look, and I think coming back is quite a big difference. Obviously, in [the paddock] it’s something that we all know, the F1 paddock but having a look at Delhi or a little bit [of] the life outside the circuit is very different to other places. I think there’s a couple of stations or a couple of stops on the calendar that are very impressive in that regard. India has a lot to offer. There are a lot of people here: 1.3 billion or more so quite incredible and just to see that, to see how people live here, to see the culture, I think is very very different. In life, I think a lot is always about expectations and in Europe expectations are very very high. Money plays a big role whereas here, I think, expectations are fairly low. Money is not that important. It doesn’t matter how old you are. I think it’s more important to have a healthy, happy life, to enjoy your life with your family, with your kids. Sometimes to compare the circumstances you live in, here in India compared to Europe – obviously I grew up in Germany – it’s black and white, it’s very different but it’s nice to see that the people are so happy, warm-hearted. I think it would definitely be nice to spend a little bit more time to travel around and get more of an idea. As I said, in here, everything is more or less the same. It will be the same next week when we go to Abu Dhabi, even though it’s a completely different place. As a country, this place has a lot to offer.
In the latter part of the race, the front end of your floor seemed to touch the ground. [We] could see sparks coming off it. Did it cost you time; it seemed to have repaired itself later on?
SV: I noticed the problem. I think it was when I got the DRS of a backmarker, from Timo [Glock] actually, pretty close to the end of the race and obviously when you open DRS, you go much quicker down the straight and I saw some sparks. I think you’ve seen a couple of cars throwing out some sparks out of the back of the car this weekend. I don’t think it was really a problem. I didn’t feel anything regarding the balance [of the car]. All the other laps it was no problem, but I saw it in the mirror, I saw Timo backing off and I think he was a bit afraid at the time. We obviously need to analyse what was the problem, but it didn’t cost us anything or slow us down.
Every time you make a point about the team members in the factory and those working behind the scenes. You seem to have a special bond with your pit crew which plays an important role in any driver’s success, whether he is a world champion contender or not. Can you share what kind of relationship you have with your pit crew members and the main members of the team?
SV: I think it’s the same for Mark and myself. Obviously we work very closely with the guys. I think we have 20 races a year, a couple of pre-season tests and obviously we spend a lot of time in the factory, we spend time here at the track, working with the members of the team, every single one: mechanics, engineers, all sorts of staff. Obviously you know who you’re talking to. If you’re new to the environment it takes a bit of time to get to know everyone and to get to know how everyone ticks. I think the special thing at the moment and the special thing at the beginning of the year at any stage is the atmosphere in the garage is fantastic, the guys are really incredible. I don’t know how they do it, they hardly sleep at night, only a couple of hours. They try to prepare the car as best as they can in order to give Mark and myself the best chance to have a solid race. Back in the factory, the people are pushing, obviously trying to improve the car. It’s obviously difficult to say thank you to each and every one because quite a lot of people work behind the scenes in our team, but everyone plays their role, it’s not a one man show. I think the result today or the result last week or whenever, the results in the last two years are not just thanks to me or thanks to Adrian (Newey), or thanks to any particular person in the team, I think it’s thanks to all of us. Everyone is pushing hard, there are lots of bright guys with good ideas. Obviously some guys are really important but all in all, that’s the spirit we share and it’s just nice to be a big part of it.
You say there is no one element that makes the difference. Are you under-estimating your own part in this?
SV: No, that’s the way I see it. Obviously on a Sunday afternoon or a Saturday afternoon, whenever, in qualifying, in the race, when I’m out in the circuit in the car, then I know that there is a lot depending on me. If I get it wrong there’s no result, if I get it right it might be a good result. But I think there’s far more work behind that than just one lap in the race, or one lap in qualifying, one result in a year, in the season. That’s why I’m convinced of what I said and I think everyone is pushing very hard. Obviously it’s easier to measure if I make a mistake, I lose half a second in the last corner, it’s easy to say that instead of 1m 30.0s, I could have done 1m 29.5s but that’s why it’s difficult to measure the effort everyone brings in. The guys in the garage are working hard, preparing the car, preparing the pit stop etc. It’s obviously difficult to measure if you’re talking about performance or lap time, but then it becomes very easy to measure if you don’t finish the race, compared to a race where you do finish and you collect a lot of points. Sometimes it’s down to one guy who is obviously committed and does the right thing at the right moment, preventing a problem or sometimes his head is not right, he’s not fully committed then small mistakes add up to maybe a big mistake costing a certain result on a Sunday. I think that’s where it’s fair to say that we win together and we lose together.
There’s been all the stories on the internet about you and Ferrari. Could you set the record straight please: is there any arrangement, agreement, talk between you and your people and Ferrari?
SV: This could be quite funny now, what I say… No, there’s nothing, nothing to tell you, nothing I’ve signed. Nothing has changed. It’s quite amusing. I don’t know where it came from but… I don’t read much, so it’s quite a surprise when you get to the circuit and get all these questions. Nothing to report. As I said, I can’t be happier at the moment, I’m very happy with… Actually, there’s one thing I would like to say about this. As I said, there’s no reason to write anything or report anything but obviously, as I said earlier, you don’t know every single one in the team, and it’s hard to speak to every single one, so if there’s – sorry to say – some bullshit in the press, obviously there might be some concerns back in the factory, but I’m 100 percent behind them as I feel they’re 100 percent behind me and therefore I want to get this straight: there’s nothing to report and I’m very happy at Red Bull Racing.
During the last ten laps when Fernando passed Mark, did you fear that Fernando would come back after you and may be successful?
SV: You never feel too certain. Obviously it’s important, as I said earlier, I tried to open a gap to – you know – later on, and no matter what happened, to have a little bit of a cushion, to have time to react to be able to control the race in the end. Obviously I was told that Fernando got into P2, Mark had the problem, so I think, as Mark said, obviously with a completely smooth race he could stay ahead. As we also said, on the hard tyres, McLaren and Ferrari were quite competitive. I think I had the same gap when he started to be second as I had in the end, so I was able to keep the gap and control the race.
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