Vettel: I don’t know if there’s a secret. I’ve got traction control – that’s what they said
3 November, 2013
Sebastian Vettel declared before the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix that despite wrapping up his fourth consecutive F1 World Championship, he would not take his foot off the throttle in remaining races. He delivered on his promise by powering to a dominant victory at Yas Marina Circuit – his seventh win in a row, the 11th win of his season to date and his 37th F1 career triumph. He spoke after the race.
Sebastian, seven in a row, 11 so far this season. They’re going to charge you rent on this top step soon.
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, I don’t mind. I also did some donuts so…
You are a naughty boy, that’s going to cost somebody some money…
SV: No, I don’t think so because this time I brought the car back so it’s fine. As you can see it’s in parc ferme. No, it’s incredible. Thanks to all the fans, the atmosphere today. Twice, we have this complex around Five, Six and Seven and then around Eight and Nine, along the straight to Turn 11. So many people, so many German flags, so nice to see and to get so much support. More and more for Red Bull so I hope that [picks] up more in the next years. The car was absolutely brilliant…absolutely brilliant. Not much more to say. I was flying at some stages…at least it felt like it. Massive gaps, big surprise. Thanks to the team, thanks to Renault as well. A lot of our success is also down to them. They’re doing a very, very good job and I hope that next year we’ll have an engine that’s as powerful and as reliable as this year’s.
Talking of support, your Mum and Dad are down there somewhere. How much does it mean to win yet again in front of them?
SV: Yeah, it means a lot. [I] Obviously spent most of my time racing in front of them when I was a small kid and obviously now there’s a little bit bigger toys, more people watching but it’s very special to me that they were here this weekend. I love them very much and want to dedicate the win today to them. I think I learned a lot of good things from them and one day if I had kids I want to pass exactly these things on.
One final word from Sebastian. You’re so gentle with these tyres. What’s the secret champ?
SV: I don’t know if there’s a secret. I’ve got traction control – at least that’s what they said three or four races ago. No. These tyres are difficult to drive. Extremely sensitive. Obviously it helps when you are in free air. Not so much in traffic. But somehow we got the hang of it. More and more so towards the end of the year. And looking after them, really listening to them and being able to extract maybe a little bit more performance than the other guys. But I don’t think there’s any secret genetically. So…yeah. I’ll take it though.
Seven wins in a row, equalling the record. I guess in Austin you can go for the record. Are these numbers important to you?
SV: It doesn’t make me jump into the car but it’s a shock when you mention these [Schumacher and Ascari]. I knew that any kind of record you talk about, Michael is involved for sure, so…yeah…I don’t know what to say. The thing is that people see seven races. People don’t see the challenge it takes every single race to nail it. It’s been exceptional. The fact that we got everything right: smooth pitstops; reliability. All these things need to come together. To answer your question, the numbers are not that important to me but equally they make me very, very proud. It you equal something or you’re close to something then…the guys you talk about are the most special drivers in the world in F1. So, yeah, I don’t think I’m old enough to realise, probably.
What does seem to be important to you is doing donuts at the end of grands prix. You did it again today. Are you not worried about getting into trouble again?
SV: Not really because technically I didn’t do anything wrong. I brought the car back. I think I stick to the rules. I hope that we can provide a fuel sample because obviously it burns some extra fuel. But…yeah…obviously I spoke to the Stewards after India. I’m not sure I remember everything they said but…yeah…I was just happy. It’s a sort of stadium there. It’s really nice, people all around you. I think they loved it.
Lots of success this year but I get the impression today’s quite an emotional day for you. Would that be right?
SV: Yeah. Obviously winning is very special. As I said, obviously seven races in a row…yeah, every single race is tough. It’s a lot of work that goes into it, from Thursday, even before that at the simulator, and then the whole weekend. Please stop mentioning these kind of things because, yeah, it makes you realise a little bit what it means. I remember when I was a small kid watching F1 and Michael was with Ferrari and dominating F1. They had a very strong car, very strong team spirit for many years and…yeah…if you look back you feel like he won every second race but to equal some of the stuff that they managed to achieve is very, very special. For me – but also I think for the whole team. Definitely after 2011, a special year, we said it would be very difficult to repeat a season like that and maybe it comes across once in a lifetime. Now, we can probably say it came across twice at least. So…yeah.
In Singapore, everybody thought you were dominating that race very easily. Today, to me it was even more impressive. In the early laps you were going almost two seconds faster and Rocky must have been very worried on the radio, from what we were hearing.
SV: Yeah, I realised that we were pulling away from Nico and also from Mark. Obviously you make use of it because you don’t know what’s coming later on in the race. We had a very very strong pace on the Option. We could even have stayed out a little bit longer. I was busy, for sure, I was pushing because I felt that I can take lap time, I can take a couple of seconds out of the guys behind so I was pushing but I was also trying to look after them to be flexible on strategy and help the guys on the pit wall to make the call. Also, I could then afford to take it a little bit easier in the pit lane which I think is one of the trickiest all year with a slippery entry and a very narrow exit. I think it just all came together, I think it was a perfect day for us.
In an interview just a few days ago, Adrian Newey said that two of your best races that he remembers actually came in Abu Dhabi and one of them was last year when, despite the problems with qualification, you came back and finished on the podium. But do you think that this is much better than every other race that you have had in Abu Dhabi?
SV: It’s very difficult. Obviously I can remember all the races that I’ve had here, it’s been a very very good track for me, especially come Sundays, especially looking back to 2010 and obviously with five or four drivers going into the last race, being able to win the Championship, yeah, it was a special day, special emotions when you look back. Also the race last year, a very crucial point in the Championship to be forced to start last or indeed from the pit lane, was tough but we came back and managed to finish on the podium. So this year, for sure, stands out in a way that we had control over the race, very very strong pace and could match the cars behind whenever we had to and were able to pull out a very very big gap, so in a way, similar to – if you look at the time and the gaps – a little bit similar to the race in Singapore. It’s a bit similar, if you look at the track layout, quite technical, quite challenging, obviously mostly low speed corners but important to get the balance right in the car and to look after the tyres which I think we did very well.
My first question is for Sebastian: will you keep on doing your doughnuts celebration if you win the next two grands prix, even if you’ll get a penalty today?
SV: Well, it depends on what kind of penalty I get. If I get excluded from the next race then probably I won’t be able to do them. Again, it was spontaneous. Obviously I had the experience last week but entering the sort of stadium, I thought it was a very very good spot, I made sure there was nobody around and I was far away from the lines. I think if we are in a position to think about that then obviously it’s very special because it means we had a very very good result in the race. So I think there’s a lot of work before we get to decide whether we can do it again or not.
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