Sebastian Rounds Up Day 3 and 4 of Testing
It was Sebastian's time to shakedown the 2012 challenger - in which he hopes to win a third consecutive title - in Jerez for the final two days of the first Winter testing. New faces were also present as Finnish trainer Heikki Huovinen replaced the popular Tommi Parmakoski.
Red Bull boss Dietrich Mateschitz was present to watch Seb guide the RB8 around the Spanish circuit for a total of ninety six laps.
Sebastian told his team that he had a positive day getting the feel for his new car:
"It's been two months since we were in the car, so it does take a couple of laps to get back in the rhythm, but the car feels fine and as we expected. There's quite a loss of grip due to the regulation changes, but you get used to it quickly and then start to explore how the new car feels. So far we can be happy, we had a couple of issues, but it’s normal when the car is new."
Jerez winter testing, day 3 results:
3 Sebastian Vettel Red Bull Racing 1:19.297
Ferrari took over from Mercedes at the top of the time sheet after the final day of Winter testing in Jerez, thanks to Fernando Alonso.
Sebastian didn't get going as quickly as he had hoped. However, loosing the morning to an electrical issue on the RB8 failed to ruin his mindset and he went on to set the third fastest time and completed forty nine laps (ten more than Alonso).
Seb took a moment to share his thoughts with the media:
"Something like this is simply part of testing, this is the reason why we are here,” he added. “Of course we would like to get more laps done, but that can't be changed now. So we go back to the factory, look at everything we have learned from this week and prepare for the next test in Barcelona, where I’m looking forward to putting some more miles on the car."
He also wrote his first of many blogs for the official Red Bull site.
Hello from Jerez!
Finally, we are back! We have spent the last few days and weeks in a state of constant excitement, knowing that, deep down, we all wanted the same: getting back in the car and onto the track.
Obviously we enjoyed our break and used it to have a well-deserved holiday, but let's face facts – we all couldn't wait to get back to work. When I sat down in the new car for the first time, I had the most amazing feeling – it was like coming home after a really long trip.
My first impressions of our new RB8 are extremely positive, despite the fact that we now have to "get to know each other". With all the excitement and good vibes, we shouldn't forget the fact that we're currently at the beginning.
It's all about trying out different stuff and getting a good feeling in the new car. The thing we probably focus the most on is definitely the speed. I think it's always possible to make a fast car more reliable, but I'm not sure if you can make a reliable car faster.
Also, the conditions in Jerez are very unusual ones. We're still used to the warm temperatures from last year and therefore have to work things out with the cold over here. In addition to that, the track is still slick so we have to be a bit careful. After all, the car hasn’t had that many spare parts until now, so we’re trying not to go over the top with the RB8.
Another important thing is to not get worried too soon. It's totally normal to have small problems, after all, that's what these testing days are for. For instance, we had a small technical problem today, but were able to fix it again. To be on the safe side, we changed the engine, but as I said, I’d rather have those problems now than later during a race.
A thing we're still working on is finding the right name for our new car. We already have a lot of ideas and recommendations, but luckily we have plenty of time until we have to decide. I'm sure we'll find an amazing name that everyone will like.
But not only is the car new, but so is my physiotherapist, Heikki Huovinen. Some of you already know that Tommi [Pärmakoski] won't be with us during this year. To the outside it may have come as a surprise, but on the inside, we had known for a while.
My relationship with Tommi is amazing and he will truly be missed during the season, but despite that, we have to carry on. We all want Tommi to be very happy with his new job and we know that we will always stay in touch. No matter what, he will always remain a part of our family.
I'll write to you again from Barcelona!
Not one who tires from talking, Sebastian finished his day by having a quick Q&A session with the Official Formula 1 site. Here's what he had to say:
Q: Sebastian, after the winter break, how does it feel to be back in the fast lane?
Sebastian Vettel: It feels good - believe me, it’s about time that we go racing again. It’s like being home again.
Q: You completed 96 laps on Thursday. What is your verdict on the RB8?
SV: If I were a psychic I would be able to tell you right away. But I am not. I have done 96 laps and that is definitely not enough to figure out something as complicated as a Formula One car. All I can say is that I feel comfortable and the gut feeling seems to signal green. Due to the changes in the regulations we have less grip than we had last season and I think all of us need some time to adapt to that. The only solution to this is mileage. We had some minor issues over the course of the day - nothing serious, but as it is testing we must dig to the very bottom of them. If we were racing the maxim would be to carry on until it breaks!
Q: If there is an overall loss of grip, does that mean you will be slower here than last year?
SV: No, but we will be more cautious, especially in the morning when the track is pretty cold. We don’t have so many spare parts for the new car right now, so it wouldn’t make sense to go out like a raging bull. On top of this, it was two months ago when I was last in a race car so you definitely have to use your brain before you use your foot.
Q: Will your driving style suit having less grip?
SV: Well, less grip means that we cannot go so fast in the corners and it doesn’t allow the tyres to work as well as they used to. But it is pretty cold here and last year at the tests we had the same issues with the tyres, which was caused by the cold temperatures. But once the season started and we arrived in a ‘normal’ race weekend climate everything worked very well. So there’s no reason to panic. But you probably have to work a bit differently and adapt your driving style. That’s all I can say after only one day in the car.
Q: Why is there less grip?
SV: Well, if you take the cars from last year and the year before they were basically built around the rear with the double diffuser in 2010 and the blown exhaust last year. That is almost completely gone this year. Yes, we still have an exhaust, but it is almost irrelevant. You realize that when braking, when accelerating and when going into the corners.
Q: What is the more important quality for a new car - speed or reliability?
SV: Definitely speed! You can work on the reliability, but a reliable car without speed will very likely never be a winner.
Q: From what you’ve seen of the other cars, have you been surprised? Lotus seem to be doing well, whilst Ferrari seem to be struggling?
SV: Well, it is definitely too early to say anything. When you go out at the right time, with the right tyres and low fuel you can set a good time. My guess is that [at the next test] in Barcelona we will see what the other cars are made of. You cannot go into a season on staged test lap times. I think that teams that are able to do a lot of mileage without issues will be in good shape. Lotus look pretty good from what I’ve seen. They’ve been fast and showed a consistently good performance. Ferrari and McLaren are the big question marks - and maybe so are we.
Q: But you must have data from the simulator, so you should have an inkling of whether the car you have now is the car that you want - and need…
SV: Yes, I think we are where we thought we would be - and for the moment we can be satisfied.
Q: It’s said that there is no such thing as a second first impression, so how important is the first taste of a new car?
SV: Very important - as it will accompany me all season long. Of course you don’t form your opinion on that first impression, but it will definitely stay stored in your memory.
Q: Are you more relaxed ahead of this season than you were last year?
SV: No. I definitely don’t want to take a bad turn. I want to stay where I am now so we all know what the programme for the season will be.