Sebastian Vettel racked up Formula 1 career win number 30, but this time the taste of victory was extra special as it was taken at his home race – the German Grand Prix – on hallowed motor racing turf – the Nurburgring. Thus that elusive first home win is now bagged after a tense afternoon for the Red Bull driver. He spoke to the media afterwards.
Tell the world how sweet a taste is this home victory?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, it’s unbelievable. I’m very, very happy, an unbelievable race. Kimi was pushing very, very hard in the end and obviously they tried to do something different with different compound tyres. I think we had a very solid, very controlled race but I was pushing, I think, every single lap, except the laps behind the Safety Car. Very happy with the result and incredible to finally win in Germany.
At the closing stages of the race you felt the warm breath of this guy [Räikkönen] in your neck so what do you think about driving with this guy next year together in one team?
SV: Well, I don’t know. I think first of all I enjoy today and, yeah, I could feel him coming and more, and more pressure but yeah, I obviously had a couple of laps where it was quite close with Romain as well who tried to push very hard. In the middle of the race we lost KERS for a couple of laps so it was very difficult – but fortunately the system recovered and yeah, it’s very useful to defend properly. Very happy that the race ended after 60 laps and not 61 or 62.
That was a tremendously entertaining race to watch for anybody who loves the sport. You were obviously made to work pretty hard for it. Your fourth win of the season [and the] 30th of your career. Clearly, the defining thing is that it’s meant so much to you for such a long time and you’ve achieved so much in 26 years but just put into words what it means to finally win your home grand prix.
SV: Definitely a great relief. Very happy with how the day went. To be honest, for sure, there are a lot of expectations. Especially when you have a good car and for a couple of years you’ve had a good run, when you come to home soil people expect you to win. I think the whole team, including myself, we never ever let that get to our head but it just feels very, very sweet now to have succeeded after a couple of tries. Sometimes we were close. I think we had good races in the past in Germany as well, finished on the podium, which was a great experience but today, to win here, yeah. Both tracks, Hockenheim and Nurburgring mean a lot to me. To race in Germany I think is a privilege, to have the ability to have a home grand prix. Great relief, very happy, special day for sure. I think it [will] take some little while to sink in but yeah, just incredibly proud today. The team did a fantastic job for strategy and for the pit stops. On the track it was so difficult. I pushed every single lap but it’s so tough when you’re on the edge and you know that you can’t go over the [limit ofthe] tyres too much because then you will not reach the end of the stint. Equally, passing people, you know that you have to get through traffic as quick as you can, so not an easy race. The Safety Car didn’t help us. We had a little bit of a cushion but Lotus was incredibly quick today and gave us definitely a big run for our money. I’m just very happy that it worked out. Last but not least our compliments to Pirelli. They did a very, very good job within a couple of days to react and bring a different rear tyre to this event. I think we didn’t have any failures throughout the whole weekend. Compliments to them. They had a lot of criteria after the last race but it look[s] like they made up for it this race and hopefully for the next races we continue to have racing like that.
What to you think about the weather today? Maybe the weather help[ed] you [take] a win, or no?
SV: Well first of all it’s German weather. It’s always like this in Germany. I think we were just a little unlucky the last couple of years. I think it didn’t help us today. I think it made it a little bit more tricky. I think it helped probably Lotus a little bit. They were taking care of their tyres probably a little bit better than the rest of the field. By the looks of it they were very strong at the end of the stints – but I say that now, I don’t have a proper look. But in the end we won today so we had good speed – good enough to win the race so I’m very happy but I think we were a little bit stronger on Friday than today.
When you came in for the third time, did you do it in order to cover Romain or did you come in anyway? Was it a plan to come in?
SV: No, I don’t think it was the plan yet. Tyres were holding up OK and the gap to Romain was increasing a little bit again at that time. Just before the stop, a couple of laps, I lost KERS [but] I was able to switch it back on and pull away again. But obviously I think we [tried] to cover him to make sure we stay ahead and we defend the lead because we saw that overtaking is quite tricky here. It’s possible: I went through traffic pretty quickly but obviously there was a big delta in speed, in pace at that time. So, yeah, in order to make sure we stay ahead, we try to cover him.
How intense is the relief to get this done, with this win now? Did you have a plan to get it here in Germany, right now, this year?
SV: Yeah, I made it in January! No, in the end it’s just another race and we try to prepare as much as we can for every race. Surely winning here is very special and tastes very very sweet, especially the way we won today with a lot of pressure from behind, but I think we did our homework – as much as we could – on Friday, the conditions changed a little bit and it was quite close today but we succeeded, that’s the most important thing. Very happy to take the win today and also it’s good to score some points.
Kimi is one of the men on the short list to replace Webber as your teammate next season. In the closing stages of the race, we saw him giving you quite a bit of challenge. How do you feel about the prospect of being challenged by a fellow World Champion in equal equipment for an entire season rather than just a few laps?
SV: Well, I wouldn’t mind. I think he wasn’t nice today to me because of that but in the end of the day, to be completely straight, it’s not my decision. I think I have a good relationship with the team and to be honest, we spoke about that but not in detail yet. I think the team has no pressure to decide on anything, at least, that’s what they communicated with me. I think I get along fairly well with Kimi; we never had a problem on track, even if one day we might have and crash into each other which can happen, then I think we deal with it as grown-ups and talk about it and sort it out amongst ourselves, at least, I think that’s the relationship I have with him. I respect him a lot on and off track. But like I said, it’s not my decision.
Would you be excited by the challenge?
SV: Yeah, definitely. I think it’s strange in a way because I was looking up to Kimi when he was with McLaren for many years and trying to give Michael a very hard time but his McLaren broke down many times and now, since he’s come back, I’ve raced him again and I think there’s no doubt that when it comes to qualifying, to race, he does his job very well and gets the maximum out of the car, and that’s what – at the end of the day – is our job. He’s quite good at what he does. That’s my opinion.
Your team was one of the teams that suggested to come back to 2012 tyres and it looked like your car behaved very well today. Is there any relationship between these two facts?
SV: I think no. Whenever I opened my mouth, it was purely targeted at safety, because it can’t be the case that we go out and we have a race like at Silverstone. I think in the end of the day, we step into the car, we want to race, race at the limit and we cannot drive into the unknown. All sorts of criteria I think was targeted at that and I think people forget that at the end of the day, you have to do your maths, you don’t have to be a genius. We are leading the team championship and the Drivers’ championship and if anything, we are the ones that have most to lose. Nevertheless, we pushed very hard, at least I did, from the drivers’ point of view. I wasn’t shy of communicating as well. I think we are happier overall – all the drivers – with the tyres we raced this weekend. Whether it suits your car or not is secondary.
Kimi has been chasing you for victory quite a few times. What this the tightest of them all or was Bahrain last year even tighter?
SV: It was a different race. I think Bahrain was tighter because he was right behind for more than a couple of laps. Obviously I had Romain pushing very hard before Kimi pushed at the end of the stint, because he came through, past Romain and he was a little bit quicker at the end. Yeah, but both races, in terms of race pace, were very even and if the cars are nearly the same pace then it’s very tricky and very difficult to overtake, so obviously if you’re ahead, it’s your advantage but I’m sure that one day it will be the other way round and I will probably hate it as much as Kimi does right now.
How confident are you about the next race because they will change the tyres again and they will be even more similar than 2012 tyres?
SV: First of all, I think we have to wait now. I think there’s a test at Silverstone where race drivers are allowed to test and so we have a tyre test you can say, for at least a day and get a little bit more of an idea, and then I think Pirelli will make up their mind and decide to get together with the FIA – whether the teams like it or not, it doesn’t matter. So I think at this point we don’t know which tyres we are probably running in Hungary. The most important thing is that we learn the lesson from previous races, especially Silverstone, so for here, I think nothing happened which is good but it’s good to have another proper look, especially around Silverstone and then decide for the remainder of the season.
What about the support from the stands today?
SV: Yeah, it was great to receive so much support. I think it’s unique for Germany to have a situation where the Grand Prix is coming and you have two drivers able to win the race. Obviously Michael was in a good position for many years so I think we are in a lucky position anyway, but I think it was exceptional this year with Nico winning in Monaco and at Silverstone last week. Yeah, I think it was great and nice to see, especially round turn seven where, for the second time around Nurburgring, there were a lot of people and guests and friends from Red Bull. They put a big banner up on the formation lap and also on the in lap so it was very special and I enjoyed every second, for sure, especially after the chequered flag. (Apex / FIA media)
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