Q and A with Sebastian Vettel
19 year-old Sebastian Vettel is widely known for being the youngest ever driver to take part in a Formula One weekend and for his position as BMW Sauber F1 Team test driver. But there’s more to the young German than that. Vettel is currently leading the World Series by Renault Championship after a dominating lights to flag victory today in race one at the Nürburgring. Here, Vettel talks about his World Series season and the whether the announcement about his Friday F1 testing will affect his racing season.
Is it difficult to switch from the World Series car to an F1 car?
No. In the beginning you think step back, step up, step back, but when you’ve done it a couple of times you get used to it. You can compare it to driving two road cars at home; one automatic and one manual. You’re not going to get into the automatic and try and drive it like a manual. So you get used to it. What are the characteristics of the World Series car? How does it differ to an F1 car?
The World Series car is much heavier and it’s quite a big car. It has a lot of downforce and you can work with the set up quite a lot. Everyone has the same package, the same chassis and the same engine. It’s just the team and driver package that makes the difference.
The BMW Sauber F1 Team have recently announced they are to stop running a third driver in Friday practice sessions for the time being. Is that going to affect your performance in World Series at all?
For me, to be honest it won’t make too much of a difference. It can only be better for my World Series season. I will still have some F1 testing during the season, so I will still get some experience in the F1 car.
The situation is how it is. Obviously I would be very pleased to drive on Friday’s; it would give me more experience in the F1 car and of the F1 tracks. But I can completely understand the step taken by the team, they are aiming to improve general performance and if this is part of that process then I must accept it. I’m very happy with my season still. I chose not to focus just on F1 this season, which is a good thing, I still have the opportunity to test with the BMW Sauber F1 Team, but I also have a great race season in World Series with Carlin. My priority at the moment is here in World Series; to win races, score points and at the end of the season win the championship.
How has the season gone so far? Were you happy with your performance at the last event in Italy?
I missed some tests because of my F1 commitments but generally testing went well so we were confident ahead of the season. The first race at Monza didn’t go quite as we expected. We had a few problems. But we had a good test at Magny Cours last week and sorted a few things and set the fastest time in the process. So I’m very confident for upcoming races.
What do you think about the revised World Series regulations this year, in particular the move to reverse the top ten finishers of race one for race two?
I’m familiar with that regulation already from F3, but they only reverse the top eight. In World Series it’s the top ten that gets reversed. In my opinion you unfairly penalize the quick drivers. If someone wins the first race or does well, he has less chance of scoring big points in the second race through no fault of his own. For me it’s much better to have two qualifying sessions. At the moment if you crash or have a mechanical problem and can’t finish the race, you automatically start from the back of the grid. Even though your true pace might have put you at the front. For this reason, the Saturday races are so much more important than they were last year. It’s essential to finish the first race now, if you stand any chance of a good weekend. One bad race can ruin your weekend.
On the other hand of course, it’s the same for everyone. Sometimes you will benefit from the reversed grid, as I did in Monza. I suppose overall, those are the rules and we have to accept them.
Is this a special race for you, being your home race?
Not really. It’s closer for me to come here! It’s special in that a lot of friends and family are coming which is quite nice. But that’s it. Generally, I had a lot of races in Germany last year, and the year before, and the year before that…. There was no particular feeling that it was a ‘home’ race and it doesn’t feel any different now. Maybe in five years time if I’m lucky enough to be racing in many different countries and only race in Germany once a year – then it will feel special.
You have a good record at Nürburgring; you won here twice last year in F3 Euroseries. Do you like the track?
The layout of the track is great, it’s very interesting and quite a technical track. I really like it. It’s nice to be able to race on the Grand Prix circuit; in F3 Euroseries we used the shortened track.
You had a bit of clash with your team mate in Monza, what happened?
Generally in Monza, Mikhail was a bit quicker than me. In the second race I had the pace to win the race and I was doing well in third. Mikhail was starting to catch up and we had a fight over about 14 laps. I had to defend my place and I did everything I could that was sporting and fair to keep my position. I didn’t try to put him in the grass or anything. I was quite confident that he wouldn’t try to overtake, but he tried it. There was no way he could stop his car and we hit. I was very lucky to be able to continue the race. I could finish, he could not. There was also quite a big gap behind us so I was able to finish comfortably. But generally it’s good to have a very competitive team mate like Mikhail. We push each other to do better.