Four-time Champion, Sebastian Vettel, talks formula one and race season
Interview by Greg Hutton
Photos courtesy of Shell
With four straight world championship crowns and numerous Formula One records under his belt, Sebastian Vettel has become one of the racing world’s greatest champions and most successful F1 drivers of all time. Currently driving for Scuderia Ferrari in Formula One, we caught up with the German racer in Montreal to learn more about Vettel, Ferrari’s partnership with Shell, and what it takes to be number one.
What do you do during race season to maintain key performance?
Throughout the winter off-season, you spend most of your time trying to stay fit and prepare for the upcoming season. When that time comes, we have a lot of competitions and races, which all involve quite a bit of traveling. So, it’s really important that we stay healthy, look after ourselves, and get enough sleep, especially with the changing time zones. In doing so, this also allows us to train a little bit in-between [races]. We try to do as much as we can.
What are the main differences in your routine between the two seasons?
It’s the amount and type of work. During the off-season, you focus on development. So, you can play a little harder one week and tone it down the next; you have to have a bit of a plan. We do quite a lot, though, with six to seven days a week of training, twice a day. During the season, you don’t quite match those numbers or develop skills the same way because you’re constantly on the road. It’s more about the groundwork and keeping up. The driving helps, though. It’s the best exercise and type of training that you can get.
What separates your team from the rest of the pack this year?
In general, I think every team works extremely hard to be at Formula One. The level of commitment is very high because the sport is very, very professional. You can’t just show up and say, “Okay, I like what I do. I’ll do a little bit here and there,” and then try to compete. It doesn’t work that way, especially when you want to compete at the top. You need to be very dedicated.
But I think the special thing about our team, or about Ferrari, is the level of passion. Obviously it comes with the heritage – it is a legend that is still alive thanks to the people that work day-in, day-out for the company. For everyone, it’s a privilege to come in and work for Ferrari and try to keep that legacy going.
Across the F1 grid, you can only presume some of the rituals that go on behind-the-scenes. For you and your teammates, what does that look like?
Well, we have quite a few meetings, so you can imagine a big group of people a lot of the time. As soon as race weekend starts, everyone knows what they have to do, so you automatically get into a routine. For example, Thursday is what we call ‘Daisy Roll’ where you set up and have your first meetings for commander program, what’s going on, and what to keep in mind. By Friday, which is practice day, things really kick off. You’re in a good rhythm and just react to whatever comes your way, whether that’s an issue with the car or an impromptu meeting. So, in terms of a ritual, it’s nothing really special or extraordinary. Like I said, everyone knows their places and what they need to do.
The fuel allowance this year is increasing to compensate for the increased drag in the size of the wheels. What have been some of the benefits to working with Shell and their technology?
Obviously you want to get maximum power and reliability, and minimum consumption, so it’s quite a tough challenge, depending on the track. Montreal is one of the tougher ones because you have a lot of time spent on full throttle and hard acceleration, again and again. These three elements are critical if you want to do well, so the [partnership with Shell] is a very close one. We’re not just putting a sticker on the car and calling it a day. There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes, hand-in-hand, to become the best.