Reigning Formula 1 world champion Sebastian Vettel ‘can’t wait’ for the Race Of Champions on December 3-4
The young motorsport superstar has urged race fans to come along for an ‘unforgettable experience’ at Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena this weekend
Vettel will race alongside Michael Schumacher for Team Germany as they bid for a record fifth ROC Nations Cup win in front of their home crowd
With his second successive Formula 1 title long in the bag, Sebastian Vettel will now turn his attentions to wowing his home fans at this weekend’s Race Of Champions.
Vettel has become a regular at the end-of-season motorsport spectacular – and he now heads to Düsseldorf’s ESPRIT arena aiming for a record fifth consecutive ROC Nations Cup victory alongside countryman Michael Schumacher. But his ambitions don’t stop there and he hopes to see packed grandstands as he bids for another win double to go with his two F1 world championships.
“The Race Of Champions is magic, a little bit like playing in a football stadium,” says Vettel. “It’s very special and people who are undecided should definitely come along. I personally can’t wait. It’s a very good event to bring motorsport – and its feeling of competition and fun – close to its fans. To me it’s an unforgettable experience!”
The Race Of Champions is an annual end-of-season competition that brings together the world’s greatest drivers from all motor sport’s disciplines – including Formula 1, world rally, touring cars, Le Mans and the X-Games – and sets them free to battle head-to-head in identical machinery on a specially constructed parallel track. Drivers pair up for the ROC Nations Cup, this year scheduled for Saturday 3 December, before the individual Race Of Champions takes place on Sunday 4 December.
Asked whether he’d prefer to take another ROC Nations Cup title or finally to take the individual crown, Vettel added: “I have won the ROC Nations Cup four times and I am very happy with this result. It’s very similar to the constructors’ championship in F1 where you fight together for one target. But I certainly have the ambition to win the individual Race Of Champions as well…”
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Full Q&A with Sebastian Vettel
Can you describe the sensation of racing in an enclosed stadium in front of your home crowd last year?
"Yes – it’s magic, a little bit like playing in a football stadium. It’s very special."
How much are you looking forward to doing it again and what would you say to fans who are thinking about coming?
"People who are undecided should definitely come along. I personally can’t wait for the event to happen. It’s something completely different to what we experience on the F1 circuit, in rallying or other motorsport. The reason is that drivers from so many different categories and countries compete against each other and have a lot of fun together. It’s a very good event to bring motorsport – and its feeling of competition and fun – close to its fans. They have the chance to meet the drivers or do a lap in their cars. To me it’s an unforgettable experience!"
Last year you were still in a bit of a daze from your world championship when you came to ROC. Has it a been bit calmer this year and if so do you think you can savour ROC even more this time?
"It’s a bit different because I already won the championship in Japan and not at the last race. Still this doesn’t mean that we stopped fighting or competing. We kept fighting for wins, this is all we want: to get the maximum out of every single race."
How much have you changed as a driver since this time last year with this memorable F1 season?
"I learned from the first title. I am a bit calmer these days and maybe more self-confident. If you win a title you prove you can do it. But people shouldn’t misunderstand this and think I can handle every situation easily now. I still have to learn a lot, it’s the constant experience which makes you a better driver."
If you had to choose just one, would you prefer to win the ROC Nations Cup again or finally to triumph in the individual Race Of Champions?
"I have won the ROC Nations Cup four times and I am very happy with this result. It’s very similar to the constructors’ championship in F1 where you fight together for one target. But I certainly have the ambition to win the individual Race Of Champions as well."
Drivers confirmed for the 2011 Race Of Champions:
Sebastian VETTEL, 2010 and 2011 Formula 1 World Champion
Michael SCHUMACHER, seven-time Formula 1 World Champion
Jenson BUTTON, 2009 Formula 1 World Champion
Andy PRIAULX, three-time World Touring Car Champion
Tom KRISTENSEN, eight-time Le Mans 24-Hour race winner
Mattias EKSTROM, DTM star and triple ROC Champion of Champions
Sébastien OGIER, winner of five WRC rallies in 2011
Romain GROSJEAN, 2011 GP2 Series Champion
Vitaly PETROV, Formula 1 driver for Lotus Renault GP
Timo GLOCK, Formula 1 driver for Marussia Virgin Racing
Timo SCHEIDER, 2008 and 2009 DTM Champion
Martin TOMCZYK, 2011 DTM Champion
Juho HÄNNINEN, 2011 S-WRC champion and 2010 IRC champion
Jan KOPECKÝ, three-time Intercontinental Rally Challenge runner-up
David COULTHARD, winner of 13 Formula 1 grands prix
Filipe ALBUQUERQUE, DTM star and reigning ROC Champion of Champions
Brian DEEGAN, 13 X-games medals including Rally Cross gold in 2011
Travis PASTRANA, four-time Rally America winner and X-Games legend