Q & A with Sebastian Vettel
Sebastian Vettel's driving error at Spa was a blow to his championship chances, the German now 31 points behind Lewis Hamilton.
But the Red Bull driver is not ready to give and reckons anything can happen.
AUTOSPORT heard from him ahead of the Italian GP.
Q. What are you feelings on the championship situation after Spa?
Sebastian Vettel: There are still six races to go and we will see what we can do. Obviously Lewis and Mark are a bit ahead in the championship so obviously it is up to them to keep their gap in points alive, and it is up to the rest - like Fernando, Jenson and myself to trim the gap and come back. Of course we need every race but it is the same for everyone. This championship so far, we've seen a lot of different leaders at different stages of the season, so anything can happen.
Q. Fernando Alonso has said that if he does not close the gap up in the next two races then his title hopes are pretty much over. Do you see these two races as being crucial for you to?
SV: It depends always on what the others are doing. For us we have to focus on ourselves more than anything else. And of course we have to score points if we want to keep the championship alive. That is the same situation as for everyone. If Lewis does not score from now onwards then his chances are pretty high that he doesn't win. It is the same situation for everyone.
For those who are a little bit behind, they need to catch up. And we will see. There is no reason to panic or rush. We have to go step-by-step. Around 30 points now sounds more than it is. We have seen bigger gaps this year and if you look at Fernando before Hockenheim – with his gap everyone wrote him off already and within two races he came back very quickly. Anything can happen.
Q. How satisfied are you with the season in terms of your driving – and the mistakes you have made?
SV: I think I can be happy with my performance. Obviously we could have scored more points here or there as a team. Sometimes the car was not good enough, and not reliable enough. Other times the last few races I have made some mistakes, and I think that is normal. It is something you go through.
It is a long season with some ups and downs, and everybody makes mistakes. In the end you have to make sure you are the one who does the least mistakes. So, it is life in the end. As I said, there are still a lot of races to go and a lot of things can happen. In the last race it was very close, and within a fraction of a second I lost the car and could not catch it any more.
And obviously it destroyed my race and unfortunately Jenson's race – and then you see other people doing mistakes as well. Fernando threw the car away in Spa where we was also in the points, and the points area – and Lewis nearly lost the lead when he touched the barrier, but he got away with it, so it depends on the situation. Sometimes you might get away with it, and sometimes you don't.
Q. You had a very good, clean image over the last few years, but things have changed now – and you are being portrayed as the bad guy. Does that affect you?
SV: There are lots of things that get written, and said. I think it is something you need to learn, to deal with. Two or three years back I didn't know what I might go through one day, and this is probably one of the stages when it is not the easiest time.
But I never really cared what the people think and the people say – I always tried to look after myself. I am very ambitious. I have my target in life and I know what I want to do. I don't need people telling me, or reminding me. It is normal. When you are in the focus a lot of people care and you get good and back comments for what you are doing.
Q. After a driver makes a mistake like you did in Spa, at the next race do you become more cautious?
SV: I don't think so. I take the risks that I can deal with. At Spa I tried to overtake but it didn't work – full stop. So there is no reason to change the driving completely for this race. I have a very good car and we have a very good chance to win this race and that is what we have to focus on.
Once you are in the car you are busy enough and I think the secret is to not think about too many things – just to focus on the moment. If I see a chance to overtake or a chance to win I will always go for it. It is just sometimes it doesn't work. That is how it works in life.
Q. Is Spa more frustrating because it could have wrecked your whole year?
SV: I think the season is more than one race. You always have to see the whole picture and I think I had three races this year where I didn't see the chequered flag, and of course you look back and it is not nice. But everyone has its own story and you try to do the best for yourself. In the end, you have to make sure you always get the optimum out of yourself and your car, and the rest is out of your hands.