Vettel: Mark and I aren’t exactly fond of each other

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Vettel and trophyWhile Mark Webber and Sebastian Vettel cleared the air after Vettel won the Formula 1 driver’s title last weekend, don’t think the two are going to be playing badminton with each other during the off-season.

There’s respect there, but nothing approaching fondness.

That’s courtesy Vettel in an “exclusive” interview with the Formula 1 site. You may have seen it; it’s been up a little bit. Here are some highlights:

Q: You’ve spent all that time with team mate Mark Webber. Have you had a chance to talk about your issues during the season?
SV: Immediately after the race we had a long conversation. He came over to congratulate me and we took the chance to speak. There have been some things that annoyed me over the course of the year and vice versa. We’ve had the chance to set the record straight. I would not say that we have become fond of each other after that conversation, because there have been reasons why we collided, but we respect each other and that is a good basis.

Q: There is no one single character trait that makes a champion. What do you have?
SV: That I never give up is clearly a very strong candidate for my best character trait. I have led this championship exactly once, at the end, which is what really counted. I remember that a certain James Hunt did it in the same style in 1976. I think that there are a number of drivers in Formula One right now who perform on a very high level, but in the end only one can win. And pure speed is only one factor. In the end to succeed needs a combination of many factors. Over the course of a long season it is sometimes tempting to slacken the reins, so you have to be able to shake yourself up at times and do your thing the way you think is right. But the most important thing is to never give up the belief in yourself. And the team always gave me the feeling that they too believed in me and have never stopped doing so, regardless of how it looked.

Q: Would you back the idea that it was in Monza that you turned everything back in your favour?
SV: Yes, because in Spa I admit I made a mistake. In my opinion, it wasn’t a grave one because I just tried to get past somebody and it didn’t work out. After that I was massively criticized, including by the media. That was a real lesson for me – probably the most important of the whole season. Before that I was a kind of favourite and had to learn to live with the situation, learn to only listen to a small circle of people and invest my energy only in those few, because you know you will get some of that energy back. Monza was next and that persistence was rewarded with P4. It was a very special race in terms of my attitude. From that race on I was able to let loose. I still strongly believed I could win the title, and could do so without clenching up.

Q: Have you had chance to watch the Abu Dhabi race back?
SV: Only parts of it. I watched the last 15 laps with my engineers and mechanics on Sunday evening. That was a quite strange feeling because at that stage of the race I had no idea that I would win the title. To see the tense faces of my crew and the jiggling feet of my team principal Christian Horner was quite something. In the end we’ve done everything right this season and have let nobody irritate us. What the others did was not in our hands and that is how we went into that race. Now I am sure there are many who will say that I was just lucky. But looking at the whole season there were many negative moments where I was asking myself, why me? In the end we seized our chance and the others didn’t. It’s that simple!

I would definitely agree with that final sentiment: Vettel did have some really unlucky moments — some of them self-inflicted. But when he was “on” he was the fastest driver this season and did seize the moment there at the end. I think he is fortunate in that he is the better qualifier than Webber, which had him on pole 10 times this season. That’s a major advantage in a sport where overtaking can be at a premium.

All in a way to say that I’m not sure any of us would claim Vettel is the best all-around driver on the gird. But, much like with Jenson Button last season, it all came together — and it certainly has come together for Vettel early enough that he could become the best all-around and one of the best ever.

I’d still like to see him win from other than pole — he hasn’t done that yet, right?

Anyone see anything in what he says that strikes you as important or as providing some insight into Vettel the man?

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