Q&A with F1 champ Vettelposted in F125 | 11 | 2012

    F1 WORLD CHAMP Sebastian Vettel celebrated his triple success with his team in the paddock, before celebrating with the fans in the start-finish straight (see more official photos from the Brazilian Grand Prix).

    But after missing out on the podium celebrations — Vettel brought his Red Bull home in sixth place to clinch his third successive title — he held his own hastily-arranged press conference with the world's media.

    Q. It's the obvious question: has your achievement sunk in yet?

    Sebastian Vettel: No. I haven't had any time for myself really yet. It's very difficult to find the right words, especially after the race today: what could go wrong went wrong. But we always kept believing, instead of getting angry or frustrated. Imagine you are the wrong way around at Turn 4; it looked like I had a lot of cars coming, then I went off brake as everyone went in my direction, so to join them I tried to go down hill and avoid cars by going backwards.

    We kept car damage to the minimum. We saw in dry conditions the pace was not there and we were slow down the straight, which made it easy for others to pass us and difficult for us to pass someone. Then we lost the radio, did a pitstop at the wrong time, got dry tyres, then it rained, then the inters were not ready as I didn't have radio, then we got caught up in the wet conditions.

    Fortunately the pace was there — you could make up for the loss of car pace by driving different lines and doing something different to others, then to limp home under safety car — obviously at that moment I didn't know if it was enough.

    I was told a couple of laps before it was fine then I saw the crash of Nico (Hulkenberg)/(Lewis) Hamilton and I knew Fernando was ahead and I know they were ahead of him so I didn't know: then to get told I'd clinched the title was unbelievable. But the guys couldn't hear my answer as the radio was broken.

    I am still full of adrenaline, it was an incredible race today, harder for us: not just the others, the circumstances with the damage on the car, losing radio in these conditions when communications is so crucial, stopping early, not having tyres ready. You guys had your show and we had to really fight until the end.

    Q. What does it mean to be the youngest triple world champion?

    SV: It's difficult to find the right words. I think there are two guys who have done that before. Obviously you need be in the right place at the right time, but I also believe you can create your own luck and work for what is coming up. I think one of the great things about F1 is that you can compare your time, your era to 10/20/30/40 years ago.

    Times have changed, but they will keep changing because that is what we do. If you look around world there are lots of things that have changes around the world, in everyday life … don't know what to say.

    We are in Sao Paulo here, where Ayrton Senna was born and came from, and the place where he was buried, and to come here and win the championship for the third time, I don't really know what to say.

    I have to say a big thanks to everyone in the team — for you this sounds like a standard phrase and sometimes we get criticised for bringing out standard phrases, I feel like one of the guys at the team. I don't feel more important, or less importune,t and I drive the car. What we achieved today was what we have been working for since I joined the team; it is a massive amount of work getting done through the whole year.

    Tomorrow the season is over and the guys are flat out on the RB9 and next year. You cannot afford to lift and obviously I think I'm in a very, very fortunate position compared to many guys in the team, but you don't do this job – there might be some, but all the guys in the garage, and I know in the factory – you don't do this job because you care what is written on cheque at the end of the month, you do this job because you love motorsport, F1.

    I said to the guys yesterday, am I nervous? I said yes, otherwise what am I doing here. If not why am I here? I am nervous every time so we are in groove, when lights go off we are sharp and we are there. Today we had many occasions where you need to be present, otherwise it goes wrong.

    We were present all the time, we remained ourselves through the whole year – even if people did some things that we would never consider to do – it is not in our hands to write and comment so much – we have to make sure we do our own homework.

    I said many times, sometimes people scream for Alonso, Rosberg, Schumacher — that's not the point, you are one of them and it is a privilege to race in front of a huge crowd. And having the chance we have had today makes it more enjoyable. Many times in these kind of situations, it's so easy to lose focus.

    We have won 2010, 2011 and we had a very smart guy who was telling me the hardest thing was winning after winning, you get the attention and you get the pressure, you focus on how to win again rather than small steps. That is why I try to remember myself, it is another day and another race, make sure we enjoy and it is fine.

    Q. What happened with the accident on the first lap?

    SV: The start was quite good, I was quite happy, then a bit early on the KERS and didn't get it until Turn 1: side by side with Mark and he squeezed me, so the angle got worse and worse. If you are stubborn and aim for the apex, everyone turns in and you could lose your front wing.

    I had to back off, down to first gear and everyone around the outside used momentum and I lost those positions. I got hit in Turn 4 for no reason. I think someone, Bruno, was probably fighting someone: it was drizzling since the start of formation lap, it was slippery and maybe he forgot. It was the same thing as I said on Turn 1, the angle gets narrower and I was car he used to stop himself, it didn't help us.

    Q. Was this your hardest title, and does that make it more rewarding?

    SV: I think it is always difficult because in the end you compare to something that happened in the past and it is not as present in our heads as this one. Nevertheless it was a very tough season for us, on track, off track. A season with ups and downs for everyone, but as I mentioned before, we remained ourselves and kept doing it our way and that made the difference.

    I think for us and me, it is being happy with what you see in the mirror and you are happy with yourself. Why try and fake being someone else, being someone else, you know, if you're cheating and cheating yourself.

    It was tough, as people tried everything inside the lines, outside the lines to beat us: the amount of questions we had to deal with, stuff we had to deal with during the season – the key was to remain ourselves and that made the difference.

    I am not holy, I have made mistakes like everyone else, but the way I was brought up was to be honest if you do something wrong. In Q3 I was pushing too hard and overstepped the mark, so that wasn't perfect and I have no problem to admit that. I was brought up that way and I also believe that is the reason why we succeeded in the end.

    Q. Is the next challenge winning a title with another team?

    SV: I want to enjoy now. I tried to explain to you that for the whole team the most important thing is the present. I don't want to get carried away with next year or next years: I want to have a good time tonight and let's see how long… Sometimes at some stage you have to charge your batteries, come back in shape next season.

    I am with the team, I have a contract until the end of 2014, I am very happy with what we have achieved so far and this story isn't over yet. I am very happy and extremely committed to give everything I have in the next years, and at the moment I don't see any point about seeing another team or something else.

    I am extremely happy in the position I am and it is incredible what we have achieved… Christian came on the radio and mentioned names who have achieved similar and he forgot Prost. I didn't have radio so couldn't tell him! He mentioned all of them except Prost, he said they forgot Prost and he had four!

    It has been a tough season, seven different winners in seven different races, ups and downs for everyone. Back then I knew every place, every point would matter. In the end it was closer than we hoped for, but at some stage people were not mentioning us when they talked about championship.

    It was important we kept believing and since the start of season we were fighting with our car, a car that wasn't similar to last year. I couldn't use my tricks or my style to make it work and manipulate it, I didn't have enough rear stability to work with the brakes and get car to corner/apex – we tried everything and I think at some stage we did a step that was big enough and in the right direction that allowed me to do more that I like.

    And it came naturally in our direction, we picked up the pace, more competitive and in better position. It was tough some races, not a piece of cake – obviously everyone lost a lot of downforce and stability.

    We were always up against it, we focused on every single step, we tried to work on the car, sometimes made steps in wrong direction, we paid the price and maybe learned not to confuse ourselves too much. You make mistakes and you learn from them and cars get better.

    Q. Was this the hardest race of your career?

    SV: I said it on the radio but you didn't hear it – I said for sure it was the toughest race. Not just being in a situation of fighting for the championship means you are not on holiday — look at stuff that went wrong: it's hard enough if you lose radio, any circumstances you need to talk, then we got turned around and car damaged, on lap one we were dead last and we came back, changeable conditions all the time, we did a stop for nothing, which cost us 20-22 seconds and we had to come in when it started to rain a lap after.

    Still we finished sixth, so it was still a very good result. Some races we would have been happy to have finished sixth, we can be very happy with that and it happened to be last race and championship decider and it went in our favour so there's not much more to say.

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    Jim McGill


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