Tost: From the beginning Vettel was very fast
15 September, 2011
Sep.15 (PVM) Sebastian Vettel is heading to his second Formula 1 world championship title and his rise to the very top has been meteoric to say the least, beginning with his debut for BMW Sauber and then his coming of age at Toro Rosso.
Franz Tost, who was team pricipal of the Red Bull owned ‘junior’ team which he ran when young Vettel was part of the squad in 2007 and 2008, spoke exclusively to YallaF1.com about his experience – with the soon to be double F1 world champion – during those formative years.
When did you first become aware of Sebastian Vettel the racing driver?
Tost: The first time I became aware of Sebastian was when he drove in Formula BMW. I liked his way of driving and his car control.
When did you meet Vettel for the first time and what were your true first impressions of him?
Tost: The first time I met him was at the Hockenheimring in 2003. I was impressed by his open nature and the fact his conversation was articulate and how mature he was for his age.
How did Vettel adapt to the team when he arrived at Toro Rosso in the middle of the 2007 season to drive for the team?
Tost: As we knew each other quite well by then, it was reasonably straightforward. I introduced him to the team, and he immediately started to talk to the engineers about the car and the set up. The team liked him from the very beginning, as he had an open minded approach, communicated well with everyone, listened to what he was told and, most important in a racing driver, he was very fast.
When did you realise he was a very special talent – better than the norm?
Tost: I realised it because of the way he adapted very quickly to the steep learning curve that every driver new to F1 must tackle. Many drivers come into Formula 1, adapt to the demands of the discipline and to working with a much bigger team of engineers than in any other form of racing and become good F1 drivers. However, the real stars are those that adapt to all the challenges Formula 1 offers in a very short space of time. It means they quickly assimilate all the technical demands, the pressures of the environment, such as dealing with media and working with the team’s marketing people and this means they can concentrate most of their effort on actually driving the car quickly. After a couple of race weekends I was convinced, that Vettel had all these qualities and that he would go on to be very successful.
Tell us about that famous day when Vettel scored his and Toro Rosso’s first ever win at Monza?
Tost: That was a very emotional day for all of us, because as you say, it was not only Sebastian’s first win, it was also the first victory for our team and for our owner, Red Bull. For Scuderia Toro Rosso to achieve this landmark victory in Italy as an Italian team with a Ferrari engine, was really very special. In addition, Gerhard Berger in those days the co owner of the team, joined Vettel on the podium to collect the Manufacturer’s prize, twenty years after he had stood on the Monza podium as the winning driver of the Italian Grand Prix. The groundwork for our success was laid on Friday and Saturday morning when we went out on track, in very wet conditions just so as to give the drivers first hand experience of tackling the track in these conditions. The way Sebastian then went on to control the race on Sunday was outstanding.
What did Monza 2008 mean to you?
Tost: It was a very emotional moment to win this race. For me personally, Monza is always something special, as it was there that I attended my first ever Grand Prix back in 1975 and in a sadder way, because it was at this track that the Austrian F1 driver, Jochen Rindt suffered his fatal accident.
What did it mean to be the first Red Bull backed team to win a grand prix?
Tost: It was a matter of great pride to be the first of the two Red Bull-owned Formula 1 teams to secure a win. Of course, people already knew we were part of the Red Bull family, as our name is simply the Italian for Red Bull. It was pride we shared with many of our colleagues from Milton Keynes, as back in 2008, much of the design work on our car was carried out in the UK by Red Bull Technology. Today of course, that level of cooperation between two teams in not allowed in the regulations.
How did you feel when Vettel was promoted to Red Bull and he had to leave Toro Rosso?
Tost: I felt satisfied, as it meant we had achieved the objective set us by our owner, Red Bull’s Dietrich Mateschitz. He set up Scuderia Toro Rosso specifically as a training ground for the best of the young drivers to come up through the ranks of the Red Bull young driver programme. Our target is to educate the drivers for Red Bull Racing. We did this with Sebastian. The philosophy worked.
Did you expect Vettel to have so much success so soon?
Tost: I expected him to become a very successful driver. However, predicting if and when he would win a championship was impossible to tell, as it also depends on the team and how your car performs against those of the other teams. At the moment, Christian [Horner] and Adrian [Newey] are leading their team to do a fantastic job, which is how Sebastian came to win the 2010 title and, at the moment, looks to be heading for a second consecutive championship crown.
What is your fondest memory of your dealings with Vettel?
Tost: That’s the easiest question: when he decided to drive for Toro Rosso!