Sat 16 April 2011
How much do you remember about last year’s Race Of Champions – because life was a bit of a blur for you after your F1 world championship…
I can remember everything, to be honest – especially getting thrashed in the semi-final! So that’s something I’m clearly not very proud of and I’ll try to do better this year. It will be in Germany again and it’ll be a home race in Frankfurt this time, so I’m really looking forward to that. Every year I seem to get a little bit further. I remember the first time I made it to the round of 16, then the quarter-final, then the semi-final. So hopefully this year I will make it into the final and win the final. That’s the big target. We all have a lot of fun every time we go, but the moment we put our helmets on we take it very seriously and we go hard.
Obviously you’ve raced at your home races at the Nürburgring and Hockenheim. But how did it feel to step out in front of 50,000 German fans screaming your name as the world champion?
It was very special. Obviously it was quite a thrill after winning the championship and the first two weeks after that passed very quickly. There were a lot of emotions and pictures in my head that I will certainly never forget. One part was being able to race in front of my home crowd in Germany together with Michael for Team Germany – and being the current world champion was not a bad thing either. So I enjoyed it a lot, up to the point where I got beaten in the semi-final. I wasn’t very pleased with that but we won the ROC Nations Cup the day before so overall I did enjoy it. And I didn’t sleep much…
We will be in Frankfurt the week after the end of the F1 season – it’s a long way ahead but have you thought about a second championship?
I obviously know what it feels like from last year – and I also know what it feels like to finish second. Winning the title is a very special feeling and nothing else can give you this kind of satisfaction and feeling. But it takes a long time plus long and hard work to get up to that point. That’s the target for this year but we know how much work we have to put in so we’ll see step by step. We have a very good car and things are looking good at this stage but it’s a very long way to go. I certainly wouldn’t mind stepping into the stadium in Frankfurt as the current world champion again but before that happens there is a lot ahead of us.
How hard is it to keep your feet on the ground when you’re constantly being told the Red Bull is the best car and you’re outperforming your team-mate?
For the people outside it’s easy to say that but inside I know that I still have to push every single lap as hard as I can. I work hard and I’m still here in the paddock many hours after a lot of people have left. That’s to try to improve the car and get it into that shape and that working window where we can potentially beat all the others. Certainly if you win races all the other teams are not very pleased about that and what they want most is too turn it around. So you have to work at least as hard as they do to make sure you stay where you are.