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GP Week : Issue 117
After one of his toughest Grand Prix wins, the current F1 world champion was a happy and relieved man when he spoke to the media 5 Minutes with ... SEBASTIAN VETTEL QUESTION: A four th win in five races and a thrilling, intense battle between yourself and Lewis Hamilton in the closing stages. SEBASTIAN VETTEL: Yeah, it was pretty tough. At the beginning of the race, I think I had a good start but I didn’t understand where Fernando came from. He started behind me, some 16 metres behind, and half way down the straight he was already side -by-side. He went on the inside of Mark and I went on the outside, so he was leading after the first lap. We couldn’t get really close enough to get into the DRS, so we got no advantage and couldn' t pass him but then we got him with a pit-stop. Fairly early, everyone was getting the options out of the way. Then it was basically half of the race left with the hard tyres. McLaren were very strong and Lewis was very strong in particular and they stayed out a little bit longer – a different strategy, which brought them up to second behind us. From then onwards I knew it would be very, very close. Going into the last 10 laps I was feeling a bit like China – I felt my tyres going away and I was praying the same thing would happen to Lewis, as he was catching up. He seemed to be so much quicker, especially in the last sector, so he was always getting into the DRS zone, so he could use his rear wing on the straights. Then, thankfully, in the last two laps I think I got quite a good run in the last sector and enough to make it stick. On top of that we had sometimes KERS on, sometimes KERS off. I was playing around with the buttons and the brake distribution so it wasn’t an easy race and obviously McLaren and Lewis especially gave us a very, very hard time. Sebastian, it’s four out of five wins but the fact that once again your KERS was working intermittently, is that becoming something of an annoyance to you at the moment? Well not in a way. We are pushing ver y hard and we are giving the guys in the factory a very hard time, as you are sitting in the cockpit and you end up changing maps and changing buttons, which you have to do quite a lot on top of pressing the button. You can see the effect, especially around here onto the main straight – it was extremely crucial. When they told me about 10 laps from the end not to use KERS it wasn’t the best message I was hoping for. I knew that is what McLaren were waiting for. Some laps to the end I had KERS again which was quite useful. But I don’t have to say it here ... they know it has to work in the future. Absolutely necessary. I think after the loss of KERS yesterday in qualifying it was a big step that it was working today but we are not there yet where we want to be. How much pressure was Lewis putting on you. Three times he seemed to catch up to you? The start of the race we were very surprised by Fernando and his start in particular. I don’t know where he came from. Then he was holding us off a little bit. He did a good job, so I don’t think we could have gone massively quicker but it would have helped, especially against the McLarens. In hindsight, if you look at the race, we were quite aggressive in order to get past. It didn’t work the first time, then the second time it did. Lewis was on a new set of tyres for the second stint, which allowed him to catch up and he stayed out even longer. That’s how he found his way past Fernando. But if you see 48 laps still to go and you have already had two pit-stops then, yeah, it will be a long final three stints! I knew that the time on the primes would be extremely important and McLaren seemed to be quicker, full stop. I don’t think we were massively down but when the guy puts some pressure on and then especially gets close enough to get into the zone with the rear wing it helps as it gives you three -tenths per lap. Arguably he is close in the first sector and he cannot stay that close around the high speed corners but he was pushing a lot. I was hoping to always get enough into the last sector, as that is where we seemed to struggle a bit, to maintain the gap on the straight. We knew that we were quite slow on the straights, so with 10 laps to go when you get the message not to use KERS it is not really what you are hoping for. You are hoping for the opposite: we have found a second KERS in the car so use that button! But it wasn’t the case. It didn’t make it easier but I think even more it shows we kept out heads cool and got the best possible result today, no matter which style. Could you just explain what the crazy frog impression was for, over the team radio? It’s a long story, to be honest. I think the first time we picked it up was in 2009 at Silverstone when we won the Grand Prix there; and then, I don’t know... It’s a bit of a joke between my race engineer and myself that he comes on the radio and gives this crazy impression and if I feel like it I do it back. 18