Sebastian Vettel is finding out that being world champion is about more than driving a car very, very quickly and getting good seats in restaurants (which he claims he still doesn’t get anyway).
His is now the voice of authority when drivers are asked for opinions on everything from safety to sporting regulations. Of course, being in Spain this week, the thing he was asked about most of all was Fernando Alonso…
Seb, just why is Red Bull dominating qualifying so easily at the moment?
SV: I don’t think anything has changed, compared to last year. We have had a very good run in qualifying and have always been happy with what we get out of the car. Sometimes we have looked very comfortable compared to the others, but what can I tell you? We work very hard to get everything right and squeeze out the last drop of performance. Before qualifying in the practice sessions we have a programme to set the car up how we want it, get the tyre pressures right and so on. We do that every single race. Sometimes we are very close to perfect, other times we are a long way away. But there isn’t one reason why we are quick in quali, when we’re quick, or why we are sometimes bad.
Are there too many pitstops in F1?
SV: It’s a difficult answer, maybe different for me, as a driver, and a spectator? We pit as many times as we need to and it’s as simple as that. If we think we only have to pit twice, then we pit twice. Last year allowed us to come in one time only, so we only came in once.
I think it becomes quite difficult for anyone sitting in the grandstand though: as soon as people start to pit, it becomes quite difficult to follow. I remember myself, when I was at Hockenheim in, I think, 2000 watching the race on the main straight, we didn’t have a video wall in front, it become more or less impossible to understand what’s going on once the pitstops started.
Now we have the Kangaroo TV and video walls everywhere, so it’s better – but even for people with a TV and a commentator telling you what’s going on, it’s difficult to follow. For us, we don’t have that problem – probably – because we prepare all weekend long and we know what to expect, at least whether it’s a one or two stop race instead of a three or four stopper – but outside it must be difficult.
'In Monaco, overtaking is traditionally difficult but it could be possible this year'
What do you think about using DRS at Monaco. Is it dangerous?
SV: I think in Monaco, overtaking is traditionally difficult but it could be possible this year. That, I think will be mainly because of the tyres and not because of the wing. You will have drivers on new tyres racing drivers on old tyres. So far this year we’ve seen there’s a big delta when this happens, and passing is just a matter of time.
Monaco, because of the layout of the track… hmm… yes, I’m happy using DRS in the race but I’m not a big fan of using it in practice and qualifying because I think it’s unnecessary and I think it’s an extra risk. As drivers we are all thinking the same: we want to go as fast as we can, and operating the rear wing in Monaco could be dangerous in places.
Fernando has signed for Ferrari until 2016. Do you want a two-year extension on your contract to match that?
SV: No! I renewed my contract at the beginning of the year and I think these years we are talking about now are so far away. It’s good for him though, so congratulations to Fernando. It’s a bold step but obviously he feels comfortable there and has the opportunity, so why not? I think any driver would feel the same. If you’re in an environment where you feel welcome, and feel happy with the team and the guys you work with, then it’s good. In the end we’re all in the same boat and ultimately we’re looking for a package that makes us happy.
'Next year is too far away for me to think about now'
Do you think it’s too long a term?
SV: Difficult to say, isn’t it? In five years we might be sitting here saying it was the right thing to do, maybe we won’t, I don’t know. Actually, I’m not really thinking about Fernando’s contract too much. I don’t think about where I will be in 2016 – it’s quite far away, y’know? Next year is too far away for me to think about now and 2013…? Don’t even ask. There’s so much that can happen between now and then.
You’ve said in the past that one day you might like to drive for Ferrari. Will that be more difficult now Alonso has this contract?
SV: Why? I don’t think the fact Fernando – or Felipe – are at Ferrari makes it impossible to go there. As far as I know, teams in Formula One have two cars. Probably that kicks off headlines now? I’m very happy where I am, so at this stage I really don’t care.
- Sebastian Vettel blog from Spain
- Tech Talk on blown diffuser technology
- Spanish Grand Prix event page