Vettel: In-depth interview, unpublished in UK – “I need to improve by 2020”

Yesterday, F1’s 4 time Champion and Ferrari driver Sebastian Vettel had an in-depth interview with the Swiss newspaper blick.ch.

We’ve translated the interview below and is well worth a read. Not often willing to provide such a lengthy interview, the German gives some insight into his life and Formula 1.

The original article can be found on blick.ch

Sebastian Vettel, first of all congratulations on the birth of your son.

Thank you.

For the record of the seven World Champion children of Nelson Piquet and Emerson Fittipaldi, you now only need four.

Laughs Hello, they cheated. The seven children are each from different mothers.

The many reviews about your driving style and mistakes must have annoyed you a lot?

One learns with the time to deal with it better. Many people in all walks of life form an opinion too quickly. And other things are forgotten just as quickly.

You are four-time world champion, are you addressing your fame and success?

In a world where everything is as fast-paced as it is today, both unfortunately pass very quickly.

Somehow I have the feeling that you are too intellectual for Formula 1.

I don’t think so. There are certainly smarter people in the paddock than I am. But why do you have this impression?

You recently gave the DPA in Germany a great interview. You talk about zeitgeist, time-out and values like decency, respect and honesty. Can you also set an example?

I don’t think there is anyone who can constantly exemplify all the values that perhaps stand for something very good. But I think that you have to have a certain framework in your head so that you can hold on to certain virtues. I don’t believe that this always succeeds, but if you try, more and more often.

They often talk about “digital madness”, which can no longer be stopped. What can you give your children in this respect on their way through life?

You can’t avoid this topic. The world is as it is – and development is progressing rapidly. You also have to be able to live with everything that is not so good. But there are also good things. One must not close oneself to the new. It is important for my children to know how to live certain things for themselves. They notice immediately if you don’t exemplify things as they should be!

So do your children have a mobile phone in front of you?

You will certainly have one sooner than I do! I got my first mobile phone when I was 17. With a prepaid card. 25 euros on the mobile phone and so on. At that time it was mostly used only for telephoning. That is different today.

Why are you against Twitter, Facebook and Instagram?

I just don’t feel like sharing my private life with the public. It’s that simple. Even though I know that I’m certainly not on average. What it is today is that you constantly communicate with the outside world.

Will your children have the same opinion about the social networks?

No, because the dynamic with mobile phones already begins at school. So everyone has to join in, otherwise you quickly become an outsider. But at the age of four and five, the problem has not yet arisen at Vettel – fortunately!

They say that the pace for this world is not really set. If everyone is just stepping on the gas, things won’t get any further at some point.

I believe that people have a certain speed. Now, of course, you can argue about what is fast. At first, it was the horse that brought people from A to B. Then came mobility and its development. What has really overtaken us now is the computer. It is faster than us. And it will become faster and faster. The question is simple: can we still control the computer in a few years?

An interesting question that frightens many people. Well, society doesn’t live well with this development. The stress is perhaps even life-threatening. Diseases and burnout multiply. This is also a big topic in Formula 1, are the breaks too short? And next year there will be 22 races for the first time. Unfortunately, the situation also affects young people, and this has been going on for some time now even in the lowest school classes, where the children simply have more stress. There must be solutions soon.

They are really interested in everything: the world view, politics, climate change. They can take part in discussions everywhere. Their answers have been similar to almost longer contributions.

Let’s leave politics out of it. I don’t have too much hope, everything is a bit too slow. Of course you follow world events, but it’s not my thing.

Climate change is the most topical issue. Will you take Greta to a fine restaurant?

I wouldn’t have a problem eating with her. But I don’t know if she wants to sit at a table with me. From her point of view, I’m not exactly a role model. But I think it’s great that the youth is so committed. It is also necessary that someone stands up and indicates the direction.

And you?

Each of us can and must do something. One should perhaps look less at what is not quite right. You should rather look at what you can do yourself. Otherwise we will rub our eyes in a few years.

You already picked up plastic bottles in the paddock yourself.

Many ask themselves then: “What is he trying to fool us into? He himself flies tens of thousands of kilometers around the world.” But we have to get away from this attitude and get to the point where everyone asks themselves what contribution they can make themselves.

Their big disadvantage in racing is the emotional side. Those who stand up for justice have a particularly hard time in Formula 1.

Yes, perhaps. But I don’t think that’s a disadvantage. Everyone is the way they are. And the fact that I’m emotional from time to time is part of it. I like doing this sport, and a good portion of passion is also necessary in the cockpit. From time to time it would certainly help me to be a little less emotional. But that would also take away the drive and the fun.

The 2019 season was a mountain and valley ride. In Montreal you were at the bottom with your victory stolen thanks to the 5-second penalty – and in Singapore you were at the top with your only success in 2019.

It certainly wasn’t the year we all hoped for. That’s the main point. In the first half of the season we had to take a lot and tried to learn a lot. That didn’t work out. In the second half I missed a few chances. In the end it became more and more constant, but the bottom line was that it wasn’t the season we wanted. And when the rhythm is missing, there are usually a few other things that stand in the way. But that doesn’t knock you out after so many years.

Many fans ask: “How long does the four-time World Champion and 53-time GP winner still have the desire? The last five years you’ve been racing in vain after the red title dream.

That was also five years full of experience with a great team. I’m grateful for that. But I hope that it won’t be another five years before the big success.

So keep going full throttle in the Ferrari with great pleasure?

As long as I can and do my best, age doesn’t matter. Hamilton is three years older than me. Nowadays the pendulum swings very fast anyway. Then you have three good races and opinions change again. Everyone has their own experiences.

You’ve never seriously thought about retiring from Formula 1?

Not concretely. But after more than twelve years you certainly think about what comes next. It’s not good to go through life without a plan. Whether it really is this plan, nobody knows.

Is your desire to drive with Ferrari really unlimited? Or are you back with Red Bull in your former family in 2021?

I wouldn’t go that far now. At the moment, the order from Ferrari with the World Championship title is clear. And we’re not there yet.

When did you notice that the big celebration in Maranello was not going to happen again?

Actually quite early, but of course you try to suppress it for a long time. We were already realistic after three races because the gap to Mercedes was quite big. And there were no signs that the gap could be closed overnight.

Charles Leclerc beat you in the internal duel with 12:9 and 2:1 wins. Is he the coming superstar? Or did you fall into a summer slump before the satisfactory final sprint?

My season just wasn’t perfect. Little things make the difference. In the end, the points that you should have scored are missing. Of course I’m not satisfied, I have to clearly improve. Life against Charles will certainly not be any easier in 2020. And the new generation is already there. With Charles, Max, Esteban, Lando, Alex, George, Pierre and what they’re all called.

How would you rate your season from 1 to 10?

Yes, I wasn’t good enough for an 8, 9 or 10. A 5 would be too hard. So there’s a 6 or 7. You have to be careful, such things will be rubbed in your nose again later.

Again: How do you deal with the often harsh criticism or advice of former drivers like Villeneuve, Webber or Irvine?

Every one of us has an opinion that can be accepted in a certain sense. But it is simply unhealthy to judge immediately without knowing the background. If I slow down, everyone says, it’s slowed down. But maybe something on the car was to blame because it suddenly changed.

What was the big minus for you in the Ferrari SF90? Only the restless rear, as you always emphasized?

Yes, that was the red thread, let’s say the thread that ran through the season. We were just not stable enough from start to finish to take the speed into the corners. Especially on the rear axle compared to the other teams. That was our Achilles heel. Especially in the slow and medium speed corners we always lost time, which we rarely could make up for with our speed on the straights.

Are the new rules from the 2021 season an advantage for you? 18-inch tyres, heavier but slower cars?

I hope the cars don’t get too slow. If, however, the goals of better overtaking are achieved, you just accept a loss of three to four seconds. But not otherwise. Then it would be a disappointment.

You told your friend Bernie Ecclestone on his farm in Brazil that you made a vegan attempt. Are you even on the trail of Lewis Hamilton?

No, the experiment was already in 2018. The experiment lasted about six weeks and I learned a lot from it. It’s up to everyone to decide how and what they eat. I have studied the subject intensively, and there is no real diet, because everyone is different, every body reacts differently. What I don’t like about that either is too fast a judgement. They say that everything is right and everything is wrong. What has changed for me: I now eat less meat and pay more attention to the quality of the products, which is relatively easy in Switzerland. In addition, there are now more vegetables on the plate.

What would you put under the Christmas tree for Hamilton, Leclerc, Verstappen and ex-partner Raikkonen?

As a teammate, Charles receives a gift from me anyway.

What?

I can’t tell you that here, otherwise it won’t be a surprise anymore. Lewis, Max and Kimi get a nice card from me like last year. And I probably won’t get an answer this time either.

Back to your intelligence again. You gave a moving speech in English at Silverstone to commemorate the late Charlie Whiting, who died in Australia in March. In front of all the drivers, the team bosses and the media. Rarely has applause been stronger.

When you go through life awake, there are many events that remind you how well you really are doing. And Charlie’s death showed how quickly things can change from one day to the next. Of course it all touched us. And you still feel the consequences. Even if the new people try to plug the holes, that doesn’t mean that everything is running flat again.

Are you going happily into the relatively short winter break?

Yes, I am very happy. I really need a break after this hectic season. Sometimes you feel like you’re in the rhythm, and that’s why it’s best to keep going. But this year it’s not like that.

Can you be seen skiing in the Vorarlberg Alps again this winter?

Yes, I’m sure I’ll be on the boards again. But this time I also want to go to Zermatt and the Jungfraujoch. I was there a few years ago, and I really liked it there.