F1GP Bahrain

Sebastian Vettel Q&A: Victory was far from easy 22 Apr 2012


Ahead of Sunday’s Bahrain event, many had predicted an unexpected result. And as far as second and third positions were concerned, the pundits were proved right, with Lotus drivers Kimi Raikkonen and Romain Grosjean racing their way on to the podium. Sebastian Vettel’s victory from pole position, however, was less of a surprise even though the defending world champion had to fight hard to stay ahead. Vettel discusses his win at Sakhir…

Q: Sebastian, how easy was your win? 

Sebastian Vettel: It was not easy at all! It was very important that I was able to get away right from the start. To make a gap then to the guys behind me allowed me to profit from that gap for the whole race. The qualifying didn’t go so perfectly in the sense of tyre usage compared to the guys behind me. Kimi and Romain both had new tyres in the race, so we knew that every lap that we could stay out longer would be crucial for the result. It was somewhat obvious that in the middle phase Kimi was faster and that I was able to control him was extremely important. Towards the end of the race he was running into the same degradation problems as me, so by pushing hard I was even able get away a bit. And then the last pit stop was awesome.

Q: As you just said you felt Kimi breathing down your neck for many laps and then you both pitted at the same time. What was going through your mind at that point?

SV: My main focus when approaching the pit was to stop the car at the perfect spot. Too far back or too much in front costs time, as my crew is positioned at the ideal point and when they have to move the watch ticks by. Everything went perfectly - we are a well-rehearsed team - so if nothing goes wrong from then on the win was logically ours. 

Q: Raikkonen said that he had one shot at the lead and he missed it. You did defend your position quite fiercely…

SV: Yes, I did. In that moment I thought that it would be extremely difficult to fend him off and I had no intention to wave him past! I knew in that situation, should he pass me, it would almost be impossible to change that order again in my favour. 

Q: How important was it to have the hard tyres available at the final stage of the race?

SV: Quite important. The same way that it was important to stay out on the used tyres in the second stint. Originally we had planned to pit one lap earlier but when I was able to get a bit away from him we decided that I should stay out for one more lap. And then we switched to the new tyres at the end. And if that sounds all too easy, believe me, it wasn’t. Over the last two or so laps the times dropped significantly so it was good that there wasn’t a 58th or 59th lap! If you get it wrong with the brakes in such a situation - and this track is very demanding on the brakes and consequently for the front tyres - it could mean you let the win slip out of your hands. But none of these things happened! Thank god. Everything worked perfectly. 

Q: Then why did you stop the car so quickly after the finish line?

SV: I had been informed via team radio to stop the car immediately after the finish line. And I did exactly that.

Q: You said recently that you like trophies. So when did you really believe that you’d win one today?

SV: Probably three or four laps before the chequered flag. In that moment I knew that it would almost be impossible for Kimi to do a faster lap time than me, as we were both in a similar tyre situation. And he didn’t.

Q: It has been rather a mixed-up season so far for you so how does it feel to be leading the championship standings again?

SV: Well, this was only the fourth race of a 20-race season so we have a long way to go. So far we have seen that small things can make a huge difference in the race. If you take today, Kimi started from P11 and was nearly winning. It just shows how tight it is this season. And how competitive. I also have to say that this weekend I felt, for the first time, really comfortable in the car. I really had the impression that I could count on it. I knew what to expect. So I must say a huge thanks to the team. This was really our win!

© ÓrbitanewsSport 2011