The 2013 Italian Grand Prix was packed with milestones for Sebastian Vettel and Red Bull. After claiming his 40th Formula 1 career pole position the triple world champion powered to his 32nd Formula 1 win – a convincing one at that – and with it racking up Red Bull’s 40th grand prix win. But perhaps more importantly, for the moment, he extended his championship points lead to 53 points over his closest rival. The German spoke afterwards on the podium and in the post race press conference.
You won your first grand prix, here at Monza, in an Italian team. So, it’s very special coming back for you, isn’t it?
Sebastian Vettel: Yeah, definitely. A fantastic race – but you can hear the difference, obviously, when you don’t win here in a red suit, you get a lot of that but in the end it’s very nice because it means you’ve done very good and beat the red guys. So we are very proud of that. Great job by the whole team today, very good job by Renault. Usually this is one of the toughest tracks we go to but this year the car’s been absolutely fantastic, the race has been incredible. I think for both of us towards the end we were struggling a little bit with the gearbox so we had to pace ourselves but obviously for me it was not that bad because I had a little bit of a cushion, but very great to win here, to see all the fans coming, it’s the best podium of the season so very proud to be up here.
Your third win here at Monza but tell us about the problems you had with the gearbox – you said between fifteen and ten laps from the end. Was it getting worse or was it just one problem?
SV: In the end we finished the race so it was not a disaster. I think yeah, the heartbeat was a bit higher in the car and also at the pitwall because we didn’t know what’s going on. Fortunately, as I said, we didn’t have any big issues. Just the last ten, fifteen laps, tried to pace myself a little bit more and control the gaps. Obviously it was good to have these ten seconds in hand, so I didn’t have to push that much and also I didn’t have to squeeze it all out of the tyres even though I stopped a couple of laps earlier than Fernando. So that was positive. But yeah, we didn’t know how bad the problem is. We’ll probably know better once we strip the car next week and have a look inside the gearbox. We’ll probably know for both cars, I think, how close it was.
In parc ferme you changed gears five, six and seven I think, because you already had a warning of the same problems with the transmission that you had during the race, or was it a completely different problem, or just to be more safe for the race?
SV: We already saw something on Friday, obviously something similar but Friday to Saturday we changed the gearbox and then I think in the race it was a surprise. We were obviously aware of the Friday problem but we didn’t see anything before that. There’s not much you can do; obviously once you start the car there’s nothing you can change so in the end, I think we were lucky or in a comfortable position to have a little bit of a gap especially towards the end. I don’t know what they saw on the pit wall in terms of data, if the problem got worse and worse and worse or stabilised, but obviously I tried to save the car, save the engine and gearbox as much as I can. In the end, I still have to go full power on the straights; basically try to short shift and save the car a little bit.
Does it hurt to see the people against you on the podium?
SV: About the general atmosphere, fortunately I had an experience in 2008 which blew me away completely when we won here in an Italian team with a Ferrari engine so the atmosphere was fantastic. When we won here in 2011 and this year – 2011 was a surprise, [but] this year I think it was kind of expected. I said on the radio on the in lap that the more booing we get, the better we have done today. It’s normal. I don’t blame the people to be honest, I think their love of Ferrari is in their genes. It’s something very special. Obviously Fernando is in a great position on the podium, whereas if you’re dressed in any other colour it’s not the same, but still, it’s a fantastic race, a fantastic podium here.
The only hard moment was at the start when you locked up the front tyres a bit. How was it after that?
SV: Our start was difficult, as I mentioned. I didn’t get off the line that well, couldn’t see Mark [Webber] so tried to give him enough room and then tried to brake late, probably a little bit too late, locked the front right and then had lots of vibrations after that because I had a flat spot on the front right tyre. Fortunately we weren’t front limited on this circuit, so the front tyre was not a big issue, so I tried to look after the rears after that and we still got far enough to make the one stop work.
Adrian Newey in Spa said that Monza wouldn’t be a positive track for Red Bull, but looking at the dominance here, maybe he was wrong. What happened, how were you able to change the situation?
SV: I think he was as surprised as we were. Just on the way up to the podium, he said ‘I thought that it was going to be damage limitation this weekend.’ I said to him ‘well, if damage limitation is like that, I want to have a lot of damage for the rest of the season.’ It was very unexpected. Already the pace on Friday surprised us. From a balance point of view, I was very happy with the car, similar to two years ago. So obviously we’ve been very competitive in Canada, very competitive in Spa on medium downforce tracks. This one was a little bit unknown. We haven’t been the fastest down the straights again, but fast enough, somewhere in the mid-field which is enough to use the strengths that we have through the corners, despite running as little wing as we can afford.
You said some minutes ago that the car reminded you of the 2011 car here. It means a very dominant car as we already saw in Spa – Francorchamps, you have 53 points advantage over Alonso. What do you predict for the rest of the season? You are very close to being [F1] World Champion for the fourth consecutive time?
SV: I’m trying not to think about it too much. I think that when I spoke about the fact that it was similar to 2011 I was speaking about the experience here in Monza because usually…you know, 2009, 2010, 2012 it was very tricky for us here. Obviously this year was similar to 2011 when the car just seemed to be very well balanced in the corners, I felt very good through all the medium speed and the chicanes. It’s not as simple as you think. People say ‘at Monza, you just need horsepower, little wing on the car’ but in fact if the car doesn’t feel right and doesn’t allow you to play, you lose a lot of lap time, just because you are not comfortable. The cars are sliding more than the rest of the year because you run less downforce so you need to be happy with that and accept that. We have a car this year that was similar in 2011 in that regard and allowed myself to play and still to feel comfortable, even though the car was loose. Other than that, I think I tend to agree with Fernando. Obviously the last two races have been very good for us but overall this year, I think it’s been very close. Yesterday was the first pole position we got in real dry dry conditions, if you don’t consider Melbourne because it was a little bit damp and drying up in Q3. So on that front, we seem to have made progress and in the race it has stood out this year that we have had a very very strong race car. Together with Ferrari, I think on average we have been the fastest in the race. (FIA / Apex)
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