Q: Sebastian, Spa marks the beginning of the second half of the season. In the first half you had ten out of 11 possible podiums – including six wins. Are you surprised by how dominant you’ve been so far?
Sebastian Vettel: Surprised? Well, it depends on what you expect and how high you set your targets. We clearly went into the season with the target to defend both championships – and that is still the target. And believe it or not, we are on a good path! (laughs) We had an excellent start to the season – there was really no way to ask for more – but of course now we have a pretty long way ahead of us, and remembering last season and how quickly things can change – how quickly some other guys are back in the championship game – we have to stay one hundred percent concentrated on our targets. Probably there has been a little bit of surprise because in the end you never can take it for granted to win so many races. I am very happy so far and will follow the principle that always served me well for the remaining races – taking it race by race.
Q: What has changed from last year to this year? Has your approached changed after having won the championship?
SV: I wouldn’t say that the general approach has changed, but of course winning both titles has proved something to ourselves. Probably we come to a race weekend a little bit calmer knowing that we can do it, that I did it. No one can take that away from you – that’s a really comfy feeling! Of course when you approach a race you never think about the past, you don’t think about last year, but somewhere it is there and probably it gives you a little extra security that might help. But so far this season has been trouble free – no reliability issues, nothing with the car. We’ve improved a lot and raised our game when it comes to professionalism – and that does make a difference.
Q: How do you feel about the results of the last three races? Everybody expects you to win all the time now…
SV: Well, results are one thing, but for me more important is how you get to the result. I would say that at the last couple of races we haven’t really done anything wrong, but I am sure we could have done better and I think that is the point. It is not so much that we are disappointed with second or fourth place, but as I just said we could have done better. Looking at the circumstances that led to those results we are quite happy with the points that we’ve been able to bag, but knowing that you can do better is stinging – and that is good as it incites us to get more out of ourselves. Winning is what we all want and what we enjoy most!
Q: When you say that winning is what you all want and enjoy most, it’s all about winning for you, isn’t it? Is there a place in your life for the word ‘defeat’?
SV: Of course this word exists in my world. It might sound strange, but losing is much more important than winning. The possibility to learn is much higher. When you win a race, everything was easy and everything looks great you just move on and tend not to reflect, whereas when you lose and get beaten there is a reason behind that. To understand those reasons for yourself and for the team is very important in order to improve – and be back on top at the next race.
Q: When you finish a race it is easy to read from your face how satisfied you are with the result. Clearly in Germany you weren’t happy…
SV: I think reading faces is something that can very easily lead to misunderstandings! (laughs) I can be happy with a second or a fifth place – it all depends on how you got there. There will always be people able to beat you – that is natural and if you believe differently you are very close to lift-off followed by a hard landing. Sure, winning feels great, but if you finish fourth knowing that you’ve done everything right, made no mistakes and it was the maximum you could achieve, then you definitely can be proud. But of course for the next race you want to prove to yourself that you can do better.
Q: Toro Rosso boss Franz Tost recently said that so far you’ve done everything right in 2011: first and foremost you have to secure the title and once that is done you can go back to fighting all out on track. Is that your reasoning too?
SV: That all depends on the situation. It is easy to say from now on I will only focus on the title, but sometimes reality bites. Of course we’re in a good position and don’t have to do things in a make-or-break way – probably others are in this situation – but of course we want to get the best out of all of us and if that means that we are able to win then of course we go for it. And if P5 is the best we can do, then P5 it is. Sure, it is always the question, how much to risk. If you are second and see an opening, I would say, ‘don’t think – just do it!’ In the end you judge for yourself if the opening is good enough to pass, and the secret is not being overoptimistic. (laughs) A chance is there to be taken. A racer never thinks he’s satisfied with second if a win is within reach – of course, if the risk level is justifiable.
Q: An 85-point lead: enough reason to head into the second half of the season cool as a cucumber?
SV: I think there are many who would love to walk in my shoes and there is nobody far and wide I would want to change with, so this should be answer enough.
Q: How is the feeling in the team? On TV your crew is always very emotional – in good and bad times…
SV: An incredible bond of understanding ties us together. All of us. Take Christian (Horner). Everybody knows that he’s the boss, but everybody can talk to him on the same level. That is a good thing because we are all very passionate about what we do. We all love racing, we love to be in Formula One – and with the results of this season we enjoy it even more.
Q: Michael Schumacher celebrates his 20th year in Formula One this weekend. You started to race in 2007 – can you imagine still being around in 2027?
SV: Gee, that’s light years from now – and no, right now I cannot imagine it. Sure at the moment I don’t want to be anywhere else, but 2027 is a number hard to imagine still being around. Congratulations to Michael. He’s not only been around for 20 years, he’s also achieved more than anybody else. I don’t think that there will be anyone beating his seven titles and I am almost sure that there will be nobody beating his 20 years, because it’s a bl**dy long time to be around that long.
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