Sebastian Vettel exclusive: “Life changes you”

Sebastian Vettel exclusive:

© Ferrari
Sebastian Vettel in an interview with reporter Roberto Chinchero in Melobourne

It’s Thursday afternoon at the Formula 1 paddock in Melbourne. There is a hint of uncertainty in the air in the idyllic Albert Park, but otherwise there is little to suggest that the Australian Grand Prix will be canceled in a few hours. Because of the coronavirus pandemic, which had long been known at the time, but was not yet omnipresent in the media.

The hustle and bustle in the paddock is as busy as usual, and it is precisely in this context that you have to look at the following interview, which we in the Ferrari Hospitality Sebastian Vettel have led.

The 32-year-old, now a father of three, had no idea at the time of the conversation that he was not in his a few hours later Ferrari SF1000, but will be sitting on the plane back to Switzerland, in the same plane as his former teammate and buddy Kimi Raikkonen.

The priorities in life, you can hear that in 2020 when you speak to Vettel, have changed significantly in recent years. The goal of becoming world champion with Ferrari, just like Michael Schumacher’s former role model, is still the epicenter of his professional activities.

Sebastian Vettel

Sebastian Vettel

But in addition to Formula 1 driver Sebastian Vettel there is now also the family man Sebastian Vettel.

Vettel: “For me, this sport is my life”

Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc

Sebastian Vettel, Charles Leclerc

Question: “Sebastian, what is the job of sport in a special situation like this?”

Sebastian Vettel: “For me, this sport is my life. Formula 1 offers a lot of content, but for many people who are following us, this content is limited to two hours on Sunday afternoon. From this point of view, our task is pure entertainment, if you put it down to the essentials breaks down. ”

“At the moment, as we are sitting here on Thursday afternoon, it is very difficult to predict in which direction everything will go and what will happen. Nobody can answer that seriously. But to a certain extent it is also good to have so much normality preserve as possible. If people have to completely change their everyday lives, it’s good if there’s a little bit of normalcy left over. ”

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Vettel still speaks on the assumption that the Australian Grand Prix will take place on schedule. The event was only canceled on Friday morning, shortly before the start of training. He had been on the plane for a long time. Vettel had previously indicated at the FIA ​​press conference that the Driver, if necessary, “pull the handbrake” must, when Formula 1 slips the thing. Such a strike was then no longer necessary, because the gentlemen Formula 1 bosses still came to their senses.

Roberto Chinchero and Sebastian Vettel

© Ferrari
Roberto Chinchero and Sebastian Vettel

Vettel continues: “At the same time, every time we go to the front door, we put part of our responsibility in the hands of other people. For example, we all got on the plane here, to Australia. I don’t think anyone forced you to get on the plane, right? And neither did I. It was our free decision to sit here and talk to each other this Thursday. ”

“But we have to be aware of what is going on all over the world. This also applies to every fan, every volunteer on the track, every driver, every team member: everyone has to take the precautions that they perceive to be correct.”

Question: “You dream of becoming world champion. Do the priorities change in such a situation? In the end, it’s still just a sport …”

Vettel: “Yes. It has to do with perspective. When you are 15 and go on the go-kart track, you have a different perspective than when you were 30. That teaches us life.”

“Some learn things like this faster, some more slowly. It is a question of personality. Who are you, what is important to you? And so on. It would be ignorant to think that Formula 1 is the center of the universe. It turns not all about Formula 1. ”

“Having three children and a certain age helps me to classify that. But Formula 1 is and remains my great passion and a big part of my life. Of course, it plays a central role for me personally.”

Vettel: The older you get, the more the priorities change

Question: “The young drivers really want to drive the race. Lewis, Kimi, you have a completely different opinion. You have the same passion, but still have a view of the bigger picture. Would you also formulate it yourself like I do?”

Vettel: “Maybe. But I think that’s quite normal. Life changes you. You have experiences and learn lessons from it.”

“I have to admit: 15 years ago there was nothing else for me than racing. Everything was just about it. That also changed for me. Not that my passion had become smaller – not at all! But you see just think outside the box. The horizon widens and you can see more. ”

“I also traveled around the world for a good ten years, thanks to my work, and of course that’s where you start to think about what changes. New interests develop. You just mature over time.”

Vettel was just 19 years old when he achieved the best time in Friday’s practice for the 2006 Turkish Grand Prix in his first official Formula 1 session. As a test driver from Sauber-BMW. A year later, he contested his first Grand Prix: In Indianapolis, he replaced Robert Kubica straight away in the points. The Bild newspaper finally had its new “Baby Schumi” …

Question: “You are now before your 13th full season in Formula 1. How does that feel? Do you remember your first race at the beginning of the 2008 season?”

Vettel: “That was here. My team-mate Bourdais finished in the points and I turned in the first corner. An accident, I think. Many were eliminated at the time. Everyone who crossed the line took points. One of them was flat Bourdais, in his first race. It was a black day for me, but it was great for Toro Rosso to be in the points. ”

Question: “Is the feeling before the first race different today than it did then?”

Vettel: “Already similar, but different. Of course, I was much more nervous at the time because I had no idea what was coming. It was my first race, I didn’t know the route, a lot of question marks.”

“Of course that’s different now. I know the route, and after ten years you say to yourself: ‘I already know everything.’ This creates a certain amount of basic trust, but of course I’m still excited before qualifying on Saturday and the race on Sunday, which is also important, when this excitement is gone and you are no longer nervous when you don’t care, then … ”

“However, during the preparation I am a lot more relaxed than before because of my routine. The break is getting shorter and shorter. Abu Dhabi is not that long ago. But when we are all on the starting grid, I think: ‘Now the time has come, now it depends! ‘ And that’s still very, very exciting. “

Mercedes for Vettel Favorit on the 2020 world title

Question: “After the Barcelona tests, you analyzed the data, you got a feel for the car. Which one? From the outside, things like that are always difficult to classify.”

Vettel: “Of course you know what you’re doing. But what you don’t know what the others are doing. As a completely outsider, you probably have no idea what anyone is doing!”

“But you can already say that Mercedes was fast in all conditions, regardless of whether with a lot or little gasoline on board. I don’t know much more either. We don’t know the engine modes, battery management, we don’t know that. On the other hand, it is clear that when testing nobody tries to reinvent the wheel. You can guess what the others are doing. ”

“I think we have taken a step forward. The question is: is it big enough? Probably not at the moment. We see Mercedes and Red Bull ahead of us, but we have to wait and see. No one has qualified so far. Maybe there’s a positive surprise on Saturday. That’s where we start, and we’ll continue to look from there. ”

“The challenge will be that we have to take major development steps this year. It’s going to be a long season, some races may be postponed. But the development during the season has always been extremely important for the past few years.”

“You can win and dominate here, you can win and dominate the second race. But that doesn’t mean that you are number 1 continuously until the last race.”

Question: “Was a couple of years ago, as you know …”

Vettel: “Exactly. We were very strong in 2017. We were a bit behind in qualifying because we didn’t have the same power as Mercedes. But otherwise we were very strong. We were the best in racing conditions. But we couldn’t do that throughout the season we ended up losing the World Cup because we haven’t been fast enough in the last five or six races. “

Vettel: That’s how he sees his future in Formula 1

Question: “I’m not going to ask you what you plan to do next year. But where do you see yourself in five or six years?”

Vettel: “Of course I think about it. Realistically, I won’t be here in ten years.”

Question: “Kimi is still there. Ten years ago nobody would have believed that!”

Vettel: “True, that’s the big surprise. But all athletes have one thing in common: our time is limited. Whether you’re a footballer, tennis player, racing driver or sailor in the Americas Cup: you always have a certain number of years. Some careers are shorter, some longer. ”

“Chess players may be the only exception, because that happens primarily in the head. But as soon as the body comes into play, age plays a role. So of course I thought about these things. At 30 or 32, you start to ask the question of what you will do in ten years more often than when you are 20. ”

“At 20, it may not be that much different in ten years. But when you are 30, it is clear that your time will end, even if you might not want to. It would be stupid to ignore that “But that doesn’t mean that I get up every morning and wonder what I’m going to do in five years. I’m very relaxed about it.”

“I am in the fortunate position that I can try different things once I stop Formula One. I can drive other races, maybe do something different in motorsport or do something completely different.”

Question: “A new challenge?”

Vettel: “Yes, a new challenge. I already have a few ideas, but I haven’t decided yet. I’m still there.”

Question: “When you joined Ferrari, you wanted to take the team back to the top. Is the feeling still the same as in 2015?”

Vettel: “The goal is the same because we’re not at the top yet. Mercedes has beaten us in the past few years, so we have a mission ahead of us.”

“We have driven a lot of races now and gained experience. There were also some very nice moments. Some were less beautiful, but the goal is still to fulfill our mission: to become world champion with Ferrari.”

A year ago Vettel’s world was completely different from today. There were voices predicting that young Leclerc could make his life difficult; in principle, however, he entered the 2019 season as the undisputed number one. 2020 is different: Leclerc is the new wonder boy of Scuderia, was contracted until the end of 2024 – while Vettel’s future after 2020 has not been dry.

Vettel: “It doesn’t matter whether Charles has five points more or I”

Question: “At the Ferrari launch, you were asked a lot of questions about your future, about Lewis Hamilton and Charles Leclerc. It was different from when Kimi Raikkonen was your teammate. Does it affect you?”

Vettel: “Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether Charles has five more points or me, doesn’t it? The most important thing is that we as a team are going in the right direction.”

“2019 was a big step backwards because we weren’t as strong as the previous years. There are reasons for that. We have to understand and eliminate them and then make progress again. I currently have five points more or less than Charles honestly it doesn’t matter. Our goal is to get Ferrari back to the top. ”

“The questions are different after each result. As far as that is concerned, time has just become shorter-lived. If you had a bad day, everything is catastrophic until the next race. And if you had a good day, you are the greatest for weeks. It has always been like this, but the change intervals have become faster. ”

“This is probably not just the case in Formula 1, but in all areas of society. I’m not a financial expert now, but even the stock market goes up one day and down the next.”

“15 years ago, investors would still have panicked with such price movements. Now it is normal that the indices are up two percent or three down, in one day. 20 years ago, after three percent it was said : ‘We have a problem, what can we do?’ “

Question: “You drove a lot of cars in Formula One. From 2008 to 2010 they were very light in terms of weight. Now the cars are getting heavier. In 2021 again.”

Vettel: “And therefore slower.”

Question: “How do you feel about it as a racing driver?”

Vettel: “The cars we have right now are phenomenal in terms of downforce. It is incredible how much downforce we have and how fast the cars are in medium-fast to fast corners.”

“But in slow corners, you feel the weight. You feel it when you throw the car from side to side in a chicane. I think the cars have become too heavy. From my point of view, we could calmly a little Do without downforce and make the cars lighter. Overall, the lap times would be the same, maybe even faster. Well. ”

“It came about because we wanted these power units and everything that goes with them. Also security measures that we don’t want to undo and that are correct. Halo alone weighs ten kilos. Maybe it could be built a little bit easier without them To reduce resilience. But you cannot save a few kilos. ”

“In my opinion, you can talk about other things. It was definitely great when the cars still had 600 to 620 kilos. Now we have at least 750.”

Vettel: Formula 1 cars should be more like karts

Question: “And with these tires …”

Vettel: “Yes. Driving feels very different. You don’t have nearly as much power in the kart, but what surprises you the most is the weight compared to the power. And because a kart is so light, you can maneuver it , it is extremely agile. In relation to that you are very fast. A kart has zero aero, so it is not fast enough. But that is exactly what we lack: this feeling of playing around. The mass causes an inertia, and that do you feel.”

Question: “You’re collecting your old karts and racing cars, right?”

Vettel: “I generally like old things. I love the history of sports. Yes, I’m lucky to have a couple of my old cars.”

Question: “Formula 1 cars too? Ready to drive?”

Vettel: “It is impossible with this modern generation. With those in front of it, it is also a bit more complex than simply pressing the start button, but theoretically it is easier to drive with them than with the very modern ones.”

Question: “Today you need at least three or four mechanics for this, don’t you?”

Vettel: “30!”

Question: “Only three drivers on the grid have their cockpit safe for next year. That will be a big issue.”

Vettel: “Yes? I know about Charles.”

Question: “Charles Leclerc, Max Verstappen and Esteban Ocon. Is it also about money? Not so much because of the money in the account, but because one driver wants to earn more than the other? Ayrton Senna has always considered it important to be the highest paid driver his.”

Vettel: “It depends on what is important to you, what drives you. If money drives you, it can take you very far and make you successful. There are many athletes and business people for whom money is the main motivation.”

“The question is whether there is a sense of when you have enough. That doesn’t just apply to Formula 1. Formula 1 is a circus, sometimes a spoiled circus. This is all about so much money, and money spoils some of the character. On the whole, you can say that. ”

“The question is whether someone has a sense of when they have enough. At some point, money is no longer the most important thing. It is more about the appreciation that goes with it. There are not many people who can do our job. We In a way, we also risk our lives. That has to be valued. Some careers are also shorter than others. ”

“But the most important thing is that you are happy. It depends.”

Vettel is not one of those who need money to motivate themselves to race. Certainly not just because he has had enough of it. The numbers circulating in the media should always be treated with caution. But even if one conservatively corrects the 40 to 45 million euros annual salary that he supposedly earns in 2020: In the course of his Formula 1 career, he would have to have raised over 200 million euros.

Vettel: Switching to a midfield team is not excluded

Question: “Can you see yourself in a midfield team? With the same motivation, the same passion?”

Vettel: “I don’t know. Honest answer! I really don’t know.”

“I started at Toro Rosso and then switched to Red Bull. Red Bull quickly became a winning team. But when I started at Toro Rosso, in the first year with Vitantonio Liuzzi, we were 17th, 15th We didn’t fight for anything. The following year was sensational because we were able to fight at once. At the end of the year we were regularly in the top 10. ”

“So it depends on the perspective. When you start, top 10 places are great, top 5 places are incredible. If you have been in the top 5 for ten years, a 15th place suddenly feels completely different “If you’ve been 18 for years and can suddenly become 15, it’s the best feeling ever.”

“I don’t think you can undo what you’ve experienced. Let’s take Kimi: he doesn’t race for victories, but would like to. But you can also enjoy racing for yourself without winning. ”

Question: “You have been half an Italian for five years now, so to speak. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the Italians for you?”

Vettel: “We all have our ups and downs, our wave movements. Some things are good, some things are bad. That is probably the case in every culture. The joy of life of the Italians is certainly very different from that of the Germans. How can I best explain that now? ? ”

“Let’s take food, for example. In Italy it’s not just about the food itself, but a food is a social event. The Italians place a lot more value on it. They sit down together at a table, enjoy it, have a good one Time, forget everything else and live in the moment. That is a great strength, I think. ”

“But I’m probably not predestined to answer this question. I’m neither particularly German nor overly Italian. A bit of a hybrid!”

Question: “Simply Swiss!”

Vettel: “Exactly (laughs; editor’s note)! The strength of our team is the passion for Ferrari. That drives people to go to work every morning. Ferrari is a legend, a myth. To be part of this story, is something special.”

“On the one hand, Ferrari is very Italian, with very Italian rules and traditions. It’s great that this is preserved. At the same time, Ferrari is also very modern. This is sometimes misunderstood when looking at Ferrari and Italy from the outside, because it has a lot of tradition there, ‘La Mama, and so on. ”

“But the people are very future-oriented and we have a lot of young talents in our team with creative, great ideas. It is a shame that we haven’t had a big breakthrough in terms of results.”

“But I am convinced that we will one day succeed.”


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