Q & A with Sebastian Vettel

After a rollercoaster season, Sebastian Vettel clinched the world title at the very last race of 2010. Red Bull Racing consistently had the strongest technical package during the last season and looks to have translated that form through to its 2011 car - but can it make lighter work of this season?

Q & A with Sebastian Vettel

Speaking on the Thursday before the Australian Grand Prix, 23-year old Vettel told reporters what it's like to be world champion, and why he decided to sign a new contract with Red Bull Racing. AUTOSPORT was there to hear.

Q. What's it like to be world champion?

Sebastian Vettel: Looking back, of course, it is a very good feeling and it's something nobody can take away from me. But naturally we're built to look forward. Looking backwards is not natural in a way, and in most sports you have to look forward - to the next game, the next race.

I'm very glad to be back, to reconnect with everyone I know in the paddock. It's been a long winter and I have lots of friends, people in other teams, who I haven't seen for a long time. I'm really looking forward to the new season.

Q. So there have been no big changes - apart from your salary, perhaps?

SV: Ha! Well, I have a new contract, but I'm not going to tell you what my salary has been in the past or what it's going to be in the future...

It's not so much that restaurant bookings have become easier, but when I walk down the street at home I get recognized more often. It really brings home to you how many people follow Formula 1. As I said, it is a great feeling to be world champion and that's why I always have a smile on my face.

Q. Did winning the world title make it easier to sign a new contract with your team?

SV: It's not something you decide in one day. Well, at least I didn't - there are a couple of pages on these things, rather than one line which you either agree to or you don't. Basically, though, I feel very comfortable in the team and there's nothing that I'd like to change. We have a common target and we've achieved a lot together in the past, racing against the best teams and drivers out there. My number one priority is to win races and to be at the top of the field. Don't get me wrong - I love to drive but I also love to compete. And I'm very confident I can do that with the team I'm in.

Q. What are your expectations for this race? You haven't done well here in the past.

SV: Well I love to come here. Especially as a German - in our country it takes a long time before someone calls you a friend, here I find the whole country is calling me "mate"!

It's nice to come here. Usually the weather is good - not today - and I really like the track. Plus they have a nice trophy with a kangaroo on - something you can only get here.

Q. How important is it going to be for you to start the season in the dominant form you finished last season?

SV: You always want to start as well as you can. This year the situation is a bit tricky because we don't really know how competitive we are. We know what we achieved in the winter and we're quite happy with it. The car has been reliable from the first test onwards, we're happy with where we are, but whether that's enough - we'll only get to know on Saturday or Sunday.

With the tyres we have, especially, things could be a bit different. But in F1 it's usually the guy who has the strongest package that wins the race and I think in that regard nothing has changed. It's a long season, though, and someone who wins this race by a lap could be somewhere not worth mentioning by the end of the year.

Q. How do you feel about the new tyres?

SV: They are different, no doubt. As you've heard from other drivers during the tests, the tyres don't last as long as they used to, so it's a new challenge. We've had some time to get used to it and the strategies will have to change because the tyres won't. We'll have to stop more often. In Barcelona we found that we would do three or four stops over a race distance, here it may be a little different.

Ultimately everyone has the same tyres so everyone has the same chance.

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