Ahead of testing in Jerez, four time Formula 1 World Champion Sebastian Vettel spoke about his expectations for 2014 where the target is a fifth consecutive title for himself and his Red Bull team.
You’ve had four years of great success but it’s a new ball game this year. Do the rule changes make you apprehensive at all?
“It’s a big change for all the teams, including ourselves, so it’s difficult to have any sort of expectations. The most important thing, once we get going, is to understand the car and hopefully build on that. Therefore, expectations are fairly low, but once you realise [that]you have a good car (hopefully!) you want to make sure you race in the same area that you did in recent years.”
Do you think drivers will have to significantly alter their driving style this year to deal with the regulations? Are there many more things for the driver to deal with in the car?
“Drivers will have to adapt their driving style. You will have to look after the car and the fuel situation, so it might be a little bit different in the races compared to what we are used to. I think everyone will get used to it, but it will take some time. If you look across the weekend it will require the driver to adapt to what needs to be done. In qualifying you will try to go as fast as possible, whereas in the race, depending on who you are racing and where you are in the order, you will have to save fuel, prepare an attack maybe laps in advance, so we will see.”
How long will it take for the racing to settle down this year?
“The bigger the changes the more time it takes for everyone – drivers, engineers, people in the factory – to adapt, so we will probably see more retirements than we are used to. We understood the cars more in the past and now everything is new, so I think [that] mistakes will happen for everyone. The question is who makes the least mistakes and the target is not to make the same mistake twice. We all have to learn, however, and there will be things happening I am sure; it’s normal after such a change.”
Only Michael Schumacher has won five titles in a row, and that was with a relatively stable set of regulations. Do you believe it’s possible to match that achievement?
“I think everything is possible. We have been on an incredible run and we will try to do it again to make it five, but at the moment expectations are low, as we don’t know what’s coming. We’ve had a good run but now it’s a blank sheet of paper, so we will have to wait and see.”
Will having a new team-mate have any effect on you this season?
“It doesn’t change that much – it’s a different name and a different guy, but the team is used to working with different drivers. The first year might be difficult for him and the team just to get to know each other, so I may have an advantage there, but he’s very talented and bright and I’m sure he will adapt quickly and the team will help him, so in the end we are the strongest team that we can be.”
How exciting was it seeing your car being built?
“You come back after the break and you get to meet everyone again and you get to see the new car. The car looks very different so there’s a lot going on – the technology behind it is very complex – so it’s hard for the engineers to understand everything, as everything is linked. For the drivers it’s even harder, as we haven’t been to school for as long! It’s fascinating to see how it works and how it comes together. It’s a lot of work for the mechanics and for everyone that works on the car, it’s a big challenge and hard to predict but we will see when we get to the first race.”
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