Sebastian Vettel was not his usual chirpy self this evening. I caught up with him at 4-30pm local time with some other media colleagues and fired a few questions at him.
I’ve heard from other teams’ engineers that the data shows he’s been a little tentative this weekend. No-one would blame him for being tentative in the insane, changeable conditions we had this afternoon, but generally it seems that the occasion may have got to to him a little bit.
This is totally understandable. He has inherited the mantle of Germany’s sporting hero from Michael Schumacher and the country doesn’t have too many in other sports so the attention on him is huge this weekend.
For a 22 year old he has handled it brilliantly, he’s so calm and savvy with the media, for example and the demands on him are many and various.
His first run in qualifying was very brave; he went out on the hard tyre and did six laps on it, with the threat of rain at any moment, whereas team mate Mark Webber tried that and couldn’t get the lap time so was forced to use up an extra set of soft tyres to get into Qualifying 2.
After that, Webber had the upper hand and he got a stunning pole, 0.26 seconds faster than Vettel on an identical fuel load.
Vettel has a fast enough car to get ahead of the Brawns tomorrow, provided that he doesn’t get jumped at the start by the McLarens with their KERS systems.
When you replay that lap in your mind, what’s missing?
“A bit of perfection here and there. It wasn’t the cleanest lap. I had a couple of mistakes. I was thinking I had two laps because originally we timed for two timed laps. As you could see for both Rubens and Jenson, they improved quite significantly on the second timed lap. I knew it was close but i was thinking it was close for the two timed lap run, not the one timed lap to cross the line in time. And then maybe I didn’t put enough effort in the lap because I was thinking I had another one so I didn’t want to destroy the tyres too much so it still benefitted me in the last lap. It turned out when I came around the last corner that the lights were red and I saw the chequered flag so it was pretty much over by then.
Has the pressure of the occasion affected you?
“I think it has affected me but only positively. It was nice to see that, usually everyone who was here dressed in red, and still many people are, but it’s good to see most of the hats or at least quite a high percentage of the hats changed to dark blue so it’s nice too get that much support. Of course, I would have liked to do better first of all for myself and for the team, and then also for the people here. But who knows what is happening tomorrow so we will see. Anything is possible.”