With rain, thunderstorms and strong winds, the weather at Jerez this week has been dire, and the dry and consistent conditions so important to teams testing have been in very short supply at the Spanish track. But even though his running over the last few days has been limited, Red Bull’s Sebastian Vettel is still feeling upbeat, and is pinning his hopes on a last push at next week’s final pre-season test at Barcelona…
Q: Are you satisfied with your running over the last two days? Sebastian Vettel: It was wet and dry, and then in between, and then damp and wet again. There were some people doing more laps and some less. It was always too dry for inters or wets, and sometimes it was too wet to go out at all. It was a shame because you lose a lot of time and you have no chance to test all the things that you would want, so you end up testing all the little things, which is good, but I think no one was able to complete his program. So let’s hope that the next two days are better, when Mark (Webber) is in the car. So far the feeling is alright, but at the moment I would say that it is impossible to judge. As well as the difficulties of making a judgment with the different fuel loads, it is the unbelievable weather. At the moment the most important thing is that the car is reliable and we didn’t have any big issues. So let’s see what next week brings.
Q: You set the benchmark time on Wednesday. How did the car feel when the fuel level came down? SV: Wednesday was not such a remarkable situation because the chicane was always damp and with the wind as well, it wasn’t so consistent. It’s true we did a couple of good runs, but it’s hard to know what fuel loads the others were carrying. For us it was okay, as we already discovered last week when we had much more dry running, that the balance of the car is good with both high and low fuel.
Q: Has the car changed from last week? SV: Not much. Obviously last week is not long ago. We’ve got some new bits and pieces, but nothing major. Next week in Barcelona we expect to improve the car even more - how much we succeed, we will see. I have read that Mercedes and McLaren will bring really big updates, so let’s wait and see next week.
Q: Even if you didn’t manage to carry out the amount of running you wanted to do, are you confident you’ll start this season as well as you ended last season? SV: What we really need at the moment is a bit of dry running to really get into the rhythm. These conditions are very good for your reactions. It is so slippery out there that you have to be able to react very fast, and I think that after three months of not driving, this is no bad thing as it helps get your reactions back up to speed.
Q: How many laps did you miss because of the poor conditions? SV: Well, a good test day at Jerez is about 100 to 120 laps per day. Nowadays you would even do more long running because of the regulation changes - if you tweak the car for a long time, you miss quite a bit. Of course you can make changes on the car and change the set-up in such conditions, but it is almost impossible to read (much) into them. You never know if the difference is due to the changes on the car or a change in conditions.
Q: How much did the wind affect the performance? SV: Quite a bit. It was very strong and you felt it quite a lot when it changed; when you had head wind, you had pretty good grip, but when it came from the other direction, it was the opposite. It was quite tricky and sometimes it would throw your car offline. It’s a good practice, but doesn’t count for anything if you want to prepare a car for a long season.
Q: What is your program for the final test at Barcelona next week? SV: We have not decided yet. I hope it will be dry. After two weeks here, I think everyone has seen enough rain for a while. F1.com
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