Vettel: A lot of races ahead and you see how quickly things can change
3 September, 2012
Sep.3 (FIA) Arguably the biggest winner on the day at Spa was Sebastian Vettel who started the Belgian Grand Prix 10th on the grid and a couple of hours later was celebrating second place on the podium and second in the championship standings. The Red Bull driver spoke after the race.
Jacky Ickx on the podium: Well Sebastian, the weekend was probably not the one you would have loved to have; the fact you have missed your train yesterday is quite a handicap but you managed to finish second and you managed to come back in the Championship, reducing the score on Alonso. How do you feel?
Sebastian Vettel: Well, thank you Jacky. Obviously it was a crazy race. From where I started the start was not so good, and after the first corner where a lot of cars went off it was pretty crazy and fortunately we came back with a fantastic strategy, I think it was the right decision to stay out – obviously I was keen to come in because when you’re stuck in traffic it’s difficult – but yeah, I think it was the right call and the car was quite good in the race so we were able to pick up quite some pace. Let’s say after our poor start to the weekend, especially for you guys [the crowd] on Friday when it was raining like mad and you were on the grandstands, thanks for the support. Yeah it was good to come back and obviously a fantastic race, I had a lot of fun, racing a lot of people, racing Michael, so yeah, in the end obviously great to come second, great to be here on the podium and looking forward already to coming back here next year. This circuit is unbelievable. Thank you.
You must be happy also, with second place from tenth on the grid.
SV: Yeah, after the first corner I was probably the only one who was not improving because obviously a lot of cars crashed in front of us but my start was very poor and I lost quite a lot. I had a very poor initial launch and lost positions. Obviously I was starting around the Force Indias, and I think they were not far away from Jenson after the first corners – and I wasn’t – I was behind a Caterham even. So yeah, pretty poor start to the race but after that I think the pace was there. We were able to get through the field but it’s not that easy when everyone has DRS available: it’s like a big chain and you sit on the limiter like everyone else. It’s difficult to benefit from that but I think we made reasonable progress through the field. And then we were able to have a couple of good laps in clean air, which I think was the right way. And obviously allowed us to come back through the strategy and finish second, which I think after the first lap nobody expected. We didn’t expect the tyres to last that well, I think there was some talk before the race, there were some concerns the tyres wouldn’t last that long. As probably most people were thinking of two and three stops and one stop seemed out of reach. Same for us but after a couple of laps it was clear that the tyres were lasting pretty well and the pace wasn’t bad – that was the most important thing for us. Saturday morning went quite well, qualifying was shit and today was well again. Yeah, happy with second.
You were battling through the field. So you were probably asking more of the softer tyres than Jenson was…
SV: Surely in the first stint but even with that I think the pace was there. We had the fastest times on the first set of tyres even though I had a lot of battling going on with Felipe – well the Caterham first but Felipe and then Bruno, Mark, Michael – so yeah, it was fairly busy but as I said, the pace was there, which was the reason why we were able to gain so much and in the end come second.
You overtook most people into the chicane. Why was it easier to overtake there than at the end of the straight, and how do you see the situation with Michael, who all of a sudden turned into the pit lane?
SV: With Michael there was a bit of confusion, I think. He probably wasn’t that keen to defend his position because he was going into the pits anyway. I thought he would block the inside and then he came on the outside, it was very very close under braking. I nearly ran into the back of his car, and then I tried to get into a better position for the start/finish straight but he kept turning right and went into the pits. I think I was, within three seconds, twice very lucky not to lose my front wing. I think there was a bit of confusion. It doesn’t matter where you get Michael on the circuit, whether you’re fighting for P1 or P15, he will fight like hell which is great to see – he hasn’t lost it. It obviously makes it hard for you, but it’s always a great challenge. It’s very, very close with him but always fair. I enjoyed that, but as I said, there was probably a bit of confusion. Regarding the chicane, to be honest I think we were quite racy in terms of ratios. At some stage – especially if you had people in front of the car you were trying to overtake – you know there was a kind of stream up the Kemmel straight so it was difficult to use the benefit you probably had because you were close to the car in front. For some reason, it seemed better on the way back, it was better to attack into the chicane. You also have more of a braking zone which I think allows you to be a little bit more flexible and try something which I did for most of the people, round the outside. I think that’s the reason.
You are now on 140 points while Alonso is still on 164, 24 points difference, less than one victory and we still have eight races to go. Can you comment on that situation regarding the championship?
SV: Better than before. I had a look at the championship before I went on holiday. Right now I don’t really care in terms of scoring and points. Of course I care for the championship and it’s good to hear that it looks better. I don’t know what happened in the first corner but Fernando didn’t finish the race. These things happen. We have to look after ourselves. I’m not bothered in terms of points and gaps at the moment. There are a lot of races ahead and… bl**dy hell, if you saw the first corner, you can see how quickly things can change. That’s racing. Next week we go to Monza. It’s nice if you qualify on pole, I did that last year so you’re the first one to get into the chicane. If you’re a little bit further back it can be quite tight, so you always have that risk. The races are very long and even if you’re a little bit further back you can still come back so we will see what happens.
How did it feel to make almost all the overtaking moves into the chicane where you had the crash with Jenson some years ago? Was it good for your morale?
SV: It was clear that it was Jenson’s fault a couple of years ago! I didn’t crash today, no matter who I passed. It was fun. I f**ked up a couple of years ago when I pushed him out of the race which was not nice, so I learned my lesson. It was very tight but I knew I had to get past. I was somewhere, sitting in 12th, tenth position in the beginning of the race and obviously the target was to have a chat to you at the end of it, so I knew I had a bit on. I tried everything and most of the time it seemed to work so I was quite happy with that and it was good fun.
You used some very diplomatic words about the fight with Michael. The word you used was confusing. After 300 Grands Prix and about 20 of them here, you would have thought that there would be no room for confusion. Would you like to use some of your stronger language about that behaviour?
SV: I think the confusion comes from the way that… it’s not anybody’s fault, it’s the way the track is designed with the pit entry… if you decide to pit then you have to go right, so you can’t blame him if that was always his idea. As I said, I probably misunderstood, initially, as in I thought he would cover the inside under braking. I went on the outside and there was hardly any room, so he probably didn’t expect me there or didn’t see me. I don’t know, I need to talk to him. As I touched on there, after turn 18, the first right hander, back to the left, I was probably in a better place to get good acceleration out of the last corner but he wanted to pit so what do you do?
Regarding this moment, he’s going to speak to the stewards and probably you as well. Do you expect that there might be a punishment for his behaviour?
SV: You asked whether Michael deserves a penalty? I don’t think so. I think I will talk to him. I don’t think we need penalties all the time. It’s probably easier for us to judge from the inside of the car than for the stewards. As I said, I think the problem, in a way, comes because the pit entry is on the right, the corner goes to the left… It’s nobody’s fault, it’s not Spa or the circuit to blame. As I said, it’s not Michael to blame. I will talk to him and that’s it. I think that’s the way we should handle this kind of situation and vice versa. We got away with it, nothing happened but even if we crashed, it would have meant the end for both our races. I think that’s the approach I would have. When I crashed into Jenson, fortunately he had already left for the airport but I gave him a call and apologised. I think that’s part of the sport. In the end, I think you should treat people the way you expect people to treat you.
Did you think you would be on the podium today after starting tenth?
SV: It’s difficult to know before the race, but I was quite confident we have a strong pace. As I touched on, the car was very good on Friday and Saturday morning and not on Saturday afternoon, but I was reasonably confident and knew that everything is possible here, because you can overtake, probably better than Hungary. I was looking forward to finishing on the podium.