CAR readers interview F1 champ Sebastian Vettel

Published: 23 September 2011

CAR grabbed seven-and-a-half minutes with Red Bull Racing driver and reigning F1 world champion Sebastian Vettel at the recent 2011 Frankfurt motor show. As promised, we put your questions to Vettel, who was on the Infiniti stand to unveil his own personal FX50. He's an ambassador for Infiniti, see. We didn't quite secure the full quarter of an hour we were expecting - so we ran out of time to ask all of them. Here's a transcript of our interview with Vettel.

CAR - After your FX50, do you see Red Bull being far more involved with Infiniti in producing road cars?

Sebastian Vettel: 'The whole thing was very spontaneous to be frank. Our partnership with Infiniti was announced at Geneva, so it was only six months ago. Even back then it was just an idea, you know. It took a while to really get going.'

Was it your idea to build the Infiniti FX50 Sebastian Vettel edition?

'We kind of joked about what we could do together and that's how the idea was born. I'm very happy with the result considering we didn't have a great deal of time. It was very interesting to meet up every now and then to discuss the programme. Of course, we couldn't do everything we would have liked to.'

What would you have liked to have done then?

'Well, the car is still the same kind of car, so it was more light cosmetic work. If you go in deeper, if there's more time and if you want to change more on the car it takes more money to make certain adaptations…'

Would you like to see Red Bull have the kind of relationship that Williams has with Renault, for example?

'I don't know yet, we need to see because the partnership is very young, you know. There's still a long way to go. Hopefully we'll have a long future together and we'll hopefully build up something similar to Williams and Renault. It would be something that both sides would enjoy.'

Daveandrews13: What do you consider to be your greatest weakness in the car?

'To be honest I'm very proud of the package we have this year. Looking at all the tracks so far we have been very competitive, and even at tracks where we did not win we were still quite strong and either finished on the podium or just behind. There are always small things we can change. Sometimes this year we have struggled in colder conditions and I think we understood most of the reasons why, but then the next race approaches, so ideally we'd like to have more time for testing to truly understand why things happen.

Obviously all the teams are in the same situation but on the whole I think we can be very happy. Back in 2009 the car was not very competitive in low-speed corners and we struggled at circuits with lower to medium downforce configurations. This year we did our homework and learned from last year and brought a much more competitive package to the races this year. Probably more important than the car is the operational side. As a team we work hand in hand, so even when things get shaky, we stay on course. That's what makes a difference on a day when you might not be able to win, but you come in second or third instead of nowhere.'

Devotee: How do you feel about the prospect of driving a turbocharged 1.6-litre engine by 2014?

'I think we should go back to V12s! Formula 1 has to be loud and noisy, it has to smell of power. The fans have to be able to touch and sense what we do.'

Biram Disai: So the idea of an ell-electric GP in 2020 is not something you'd be massively excited about?

'The noise has to be there. If you walk around the motor show you will see that over the last two to three years the drop in fuel consumption in modern cars is incredible. When it comes to economy F1 will not change the world from today to tomorrow, that's impossible. But we are trying hard and we have to try harder. F1 is a sport and has to be viewed as a sport but some of the basics have to stay.'

RJacob: Would you still win an F1 race against the current grid of driver if you all drove the same cars?

'I bloody hope so! I'm confident I'd have a chance. I respect the other drivers a lot - they're bloody quick but I think I'd have a fair chance of beating them.'

JohnnyD: How do you maintain your self belief?

'To be honest I don't really have to think about it. I never really felt after I won last year that I have to motivate myself. It was natural to come back and for it to be even more of a challenge to say "Right, let's do it again." The big relief after winning my world championship was to know that I could do it. To prove it to yourself that you are good enough. It doesn't matter what other people think or say or do. Which may explain why this year we have been a bit more relaxed in some ways. Not in a way where we don't mind about winning or losing and just getting on with the job, but we now know where we want to go and how to get there, even if things are a bit shaky.'

Why do you change your helmet design so often?

'Why? Because I like to. It's fun. I've never had my own design because I've had the Red Bull can design since I was 12 years old. So I play within the design itself but keep the can design the same. The designer and I have a good time. Some people like it, some people don't!'

By Ben Whitworth

Contributing editor, sartorial over-achiever, HANS device shirt collars