Vettel: We’ve had a good run but now it’s a blank sheet of paper and everything is possible

29 January, 2014

Sebastian Vettel ill carry number one for a fourth year in a row

Sebastian Vettel will carry number one, for a fourth year in a row

Ahead of testing in Jerez, four time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel spoke about his expectations for 2014 where the target is a fifth consecutive title for himself and his Red Bull team.

You’ve had four years of great success but it’s a new ball game this year. Do the rule changes make you apprehensive at all?
“It’s a big change for all the teams, including ourselves, so it’s difficult to have any sort of expectations. The most important thing, once we get going, is to understand the car and hopefully build on that. Therefore, expectations are fairly low, but once you realise [that]you have a good car (hopefully!) you want to make sure you race in the same area that you did in recent years.”

Do you think drivers will have to significantly alter their driving style this year to deal with the regulations? Are there many more things for the driver to deal with in the car?
“Drivers will have to adapt their driving style. You will have to look after the car and the fuel situation, so it might be a little bit different in the races compared to what we are used to. I think everyone will get used to it, but it will take some time. If you look across the weekend it will require the driver to adapt to what needs to be done. In qualifying you will try to go as fast as possible, whereas in the race, depending on who you are racing and where you are in the order, you will have to save fuel, prepare an attack maybe laps in advance, so we will see.”

Sebastian Vettel at the wheel of the Red Bull RB10

Sebastian Vettel at the wheel of the Red Bull RB10

How long will it take for the racing to settle down this year?
“The bigger the changes the more time it takes for everyone – drivers, engineers, people in the factory – to adapt, so we will probably see more retirements than we are used to. We understood the cars more in the past and now everything is new, so I think [that] mistakes will happen for everyone. The question is who makes the least mistakes and the target is not to make the same mistake twice. We all have to learn, however, and there will be things happening I am sure; it’s normal after such a change.”

Only Michael Schumacher has won five titles in a row, and that was with a relatively stable set of regulations. Do you believe it’s possible to match that achievement?
“I think everything is possible. We have been on an incredible run and we will try to do it again to make it five, but at the moment expectations are low, as we don’t know what’s coming. We’ve had a good run but now it’s a blank sheet of paper, so we will have to wait and see.”

Sebastian Vettel with new teammate Daniel Ricciardo

Sebastian Vettel with new teammate Daniel Ricciardo

Will having a new team-mate have any effect on you this season?
“It doesn’t change that much – it’s a different name and a different guy, but the team is used to working with different drivers. The first year might be difficult for him and the team just to get to know each other, so I may have an advantage there, but he’s very talented and bright and I’m sure he will adapt quickly and the team will help him, so in the end we are the strongest team that we can be.”

How exciting was it seeing your car being built?
“You come back after the break and you get to meet everyone again and you get to see the new car. The car looks very different so there’s a lot going on – the technology behind it is very complex – so it’s hard for the engineers to understand everything, as everything is linked. For the drivers it’s even harder, as we haven’t been to school for as long! It’s fascinating to see how it works and how it comes together. It’s a lot of work for the mechanics and for everyone that works on the car, it’s a big challenge and hard to predict but we will see when we get to the first race.”

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  • RBC

    So Vettel, you are saying that F1 is about the car, more than the driver? Got it.

  • farizY

    @RBC

    I believe each and every single driver who won championships had a stellar of a car. Without the hardware,how could you win? Now extracting every bit of potential out of a package; that is a whole different story; which Vettel had been able to do for the past 4 seasons.
    We’ll see how everybody perform this season. Maybe we get a new champ,who knows.

  • Jules

    I do think this is the year Vettel will really be put to test if his racing skills match the 4WDC he has because he probably will not have the fastest car all the time. So when he has the 3rd or 4th fastest car, can he still win? Mind you, this guy hasn’t had alot of experience driving slower cars in the past 4 years, and not much experience in overtaking on the track without the fastest car…he probably doesnt’ even have the patience to wait for the right moment to overtake on the track:)

  • Tamburello_1994

    Is still waiting for the great Alonso to win a championship with slow car to prove his supreme awsomeness.

  • Ankit

    Just read an article that Christian Horner thinks the engine changes have come at the wrong time for F1…and before that another article from Adrian Newey saying he thinks the front noses are more dangerous than the old higher ones…and that he wants more time to develop the car because they didn’t spend as much time on it last year as, say, McLaren did.

    Interesting isn’t it how the ONLY team that seems to be constantly moaning about the new rules are the ones who’ve lost the most with them!

  • RBC

    @farizY, My point exactly. But people say that Vettel is better than say Lewis Hamilton because he has 4 WDC and Lewis has 1. They don’t seem to get that the care is 80% of the outcome and the driver is only 20% of the outcome.

    Sure Vettel outperformed his older, taller and much heavier team made, especially when the team was seen to favor him many times. That makes him the champion of Red Bull. But his car made him the champion of everyone else. Not his driving on its own.

    So as I have said before, to say that points and WDC’s decide who is the best driver in F1 is INSANE.

  • the fan

    if lets say ferrari is the fastest car on the grid this year and finally alonso nails the title, i wonder what the argument will be. the car or the driver.

  • WestMclarenMercedes

    Oh now its the car but for him the past 4 years its been the driver. At red bull that was not the case but at ferrari it has been the driver. We at least now he admits its the car. 4 years later. I hope red bull have a lot of reliability issues which might happen since CH is complaining about the New power units and newey complaining about the nose and how he cant get enough airflow to the rear of his car. I hope these new rules end their dominance and ferrari, mclaren and merceds are the top 3 and red bull returns to be at the midfield like 2005-2008

  • Ankit

    @ the fan

    Even if Alonso nails the title this year, I don’t think he will get it as easy as Vettel got it last year or in 2011. The field will be leveled and if Alonso wins that will be commendable and in my opinion it’s going to be a fight till the end, and if it is, then nobody will say it’s the car because all the other front runners’ car would be somewhat the same. Having said that, it will be the driver that would be applauded the most and not the car.
    Hey it’s just my opinion

  • Steve

    “people say that Vettel is better than say Lewis Hamilton because he has 4 WDC and Lewis has 1.”

    No, that’s not why they say Vettel is better. They say he’s better because he’s more consistent, makes less mistakes, gets the maximum possible out of his car and his team, etc.

    “to say that points and WDC’s decide who is the best driver in F1 is INSANE.”

    Yes, let’s decide who is the best driver in F1 by asking people who they LIKE most, that’s the only proper way to do it!

    This “points and WDC’s don’t tell us anything about the quality of a driver” nonsense only surfaced when the German guy started winning – nobody trotted out this garbage when LH won. The British badly need to learn some sportsmanship.

  • Steve

    “Oh now its the car but for him the past 4 years its been the driver. ”

    Can you cite one single instance, anytime in the last several years, of Vettel saying “It’s all ME ME ME and not the car or the team”?

    No, you can’t, so why do you feel the need to tell such preposterous lies?

    There are drivers on the grid who brag about themselves – Alonso comes to mind – but Vettel is not one of them.

  • Steve

    “Sure Vettel outperformed his older, taller and much heavier team made”

    Another “F1 fan” who knows jack about F1. The cars are ballasted to all weigh the exact same amount. Webber did not lose to Vettel because he weighed more. Or is older or taller. Or has darker hair, or an Aussie accent, or any other lame excuse you can think of.

  • the fan

    @ankit

    i respect your opinion. actually i forgot to mention that the field is the same and alonso winning. however, some people just cannot differentiate a driver winning because of his car or his skill.

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