Tue 15 June 2010
Q&A with Sebastian Vettel
What does it mean to you to have The Race Of Champions in Germany for the first time – and to be able to defend the ROC Nations Cup, which you have already won three times, here in Düsseldorf?
The Race of Champions has always been special, when drivers from Formula 1 and other disciplines like Rally, Sportscars, Touring Cars and America’s NASCAR and Drift Challenge all meet up at the end of the year. It is really exciting and great to spend a few nice days all together with time to talk about other things – even though cars and who is the fastest driver always remain the main subjects.
The fact that the race is taking place in Germany is extraordinary and as you mentioned, we’ve already won the Nations Cup three times so now only the fourth is missing. As we are at home, we can’t afford anything else.
It must be nice to catch up with old colleagues or meet new ones. But once you are sitting in your car, competition must be the same as in every race, because you know you are competing against the best of the best?
Yes, indeed. As cool and relaxed as it might seem from the outside, as soon as the helmet is on, you are focused and you try to beat your competitor, whether it is in the ROC Nations Cup or the individual Race of Champions. You concentrate on everything and try to make the most of the track. As soon as you sit in the car, the battle takes over. Every year it is a bit different, the cars have minor changes and the conditions change. In recent years, both in England and in China, the temperatures were very cold. I hope this year it will be different.
We guarantee that it will be quite hot as the ESPRIT Arena has assured us the heating will be on and the roof closed… You and Michael are defending the Nations Cup but is it important to take the prestigious title of individual Champion of Champions?
Yes, last year I crashed my car in the semi-finals. It wasn’t enough. But if you don’t arrive at the finish line, you don’t have a chance. Last year I made it to the semi-finals, the year before to the quarter-finals. Therefore statistically speaking I should make the final this year. I just hope it works out this time – but it looks pretty tight! Every year is different. You can’t say last year so-and-so was strong and therefore it will be the same this year. Two or three drivers are always the best and stay till the end. But there will always be ups and downs depending on how you manage with the cars and the conditions. It is not that easy – especially as you don’t have much time to get used to the cars, except for a handful of practice laps. But that’s what makes The Race of Champions special: it’s the same for everyone and in a short time you have to find the rhythm in each car and try to be the fastest driver.
We’ve got one other competitor confirmed today, when we announced that Alain Prost will take part in The Race of Champions for the first time…
Okay, that's nice! I hope he is not too specific on things like his seat fittings because he doesn't have a lot of time for that but I’m sure he will be fine. It will be a good challenge.
Alain comes from a completely different generation. Have you ever seen him race – were you too young to see him when he took his last Formula 1 title or do you remember anything about what he did?
Clearly I was following Ayrton Senna and Alain Prost at that time, then Michael came into Formula 1. So yes, I know who he is and obviously he has won four F1 world championships and a lot of grands prix. On top of that I know in the last couple of years he has done a lot of ice racing so he should be good on the small twisty circuit and with the cars in The Race of Champions. So it will certainly be a challenge to beat him. And if Sébastien Loeb ends up alongside him, France would be a strong team to beat in the ROC Nations Cup.
So what are your targets for the year and The Race of Champions?
Even though it is still a long way to go and a lot of work, I hope to do better than last year, meaning to become F1 World Champion and win all three titles. That would be mind-blowing. But before that there’s still a lot to be done. In Düsseldorf I’ll just hope Michael and I can defend the Nations Cup and that I manage to win the individual race.